How To Become A High School Teacher
A high school teacher educates young people in the classroom but helping them develop the important skills that they need so they can survive and cope with a new set of challenges upon graduation.
As a high school teacher, you will be specializing in one particular subject to teach students. These include chemistry, biology, mathematics, English and history. You may also be a teacher of music, art and physical education or you may specialize solely on teaching English as a second language (ESL). You will be tasked with preparing your lesson plan so that you’ll know what lesson to teach a particular grade level each day.
As a high school teacher, you will be handling students from Grade 9 to Grade 12 so you need to be prepared to teach classes composed of individuals of varying abilities. Although you will be specializing only in one subject, you still need to prepare different lessons even within the same grade level because in many high schools, students are grouped based on their academic abilities.
You will be facilitating classroom discussions and engaging students to participate. You will be making creative presentations with the use of various materials and resources, including computers and technological tools. Like other teachers, you will be grading students and administering tests. You will also be discussing the performance of each student with your fellow teachers and their parents or guardians. You will also be enforcing disciplinary measures to erring students.
In addition to teaching and other academic activities, you will also be tasked with other duties. One of the responsibilities that go with the job of being a high school teacher is becoming a counselor to students who need your guidance and listening ear. Teachers often sense that something is bothering a student in school and often counsel them on the issues they have at home and in school. You will also be asked to organize field trips and plan or supervise other school-related activities.
To succeed in this profession, you need to have a genuine love for teaching. You also need to love working with young people. This also requires patience since there will be times when the profession is going to be very trying. You also need to be resourceful, particularly if you will be assigned to teach in schools which have limited budgets for supplies and teaching materials. Of course, you also need to have excellent communication skills since you will be verbally delivering your lessons to the students.
Why Become A High School Teacher
Teaching is a calling. One reason to become a high school teacher is that it gives you the opportunity to touch the lives of young people and help them chart the path they should go to in the future. It also allows you to learn something new each day. While working with young people can be challenging at times, it can also be very rejuvenating because their fresh energy rubs off on you.
While a high school teacher’s pay is not really lucrative, it is still quite good. For those who already have kids, one perk of the profession is that it has many long vacations, giving you the opportunity to spend more time with them. You can also put your kids in the same high school where you are teaching and thus have the chance to monitor them more closely.
High School Teacher Work Environment
High school teachers are employed by public and private schools. Those working in public schools can work for magnet schools or charter schools while those in private schools can be employed by secular or religious high schools. The work schedule is fulltime and the job can be demanding, especially in schools where the student population is large and the facilities are poor.
Another hurdle that teachers have to face constantly is the fact that the performance of students in standardized tests falls on their shoulders. When students don’t measure up, the teacher is often blamed. After school, the job of high school teachers is not yet over.
hey are often asked to advise clubs or coach sports teams. They also do work at home, checking papers, computing grades and preparing lesson plans for the next day’s lesson.
High School Teacher Salary
The Occupational Employment and Wages report of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the mean annual wage of secondary school teachers is $58,170. They are divided into three kinds:
- Secondary school teachers, except special and career/technical education
- Career/technical education teachers, secondary school
- Special education teachers
The first receive a mean annual wage of $58,260 while the second have a mean wage of $57,200. Secondary special education teachers receive $60,410 annually. Comparatively speaking, the mean annual wage of elementary and middle school teachers is $56,420 while that of preschool and kindergarten teachers is $38,040.
High School Teacher Career Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that while there are still opportunities for high school teachers, the projected growth rate is estimated to be slower than the average for all job types. In the decade covering 2012 to 2022, it is estimated that the employment rate is set to grow at six percent. It will also not be the same for all regions.
The areas where growth is fastest are in the Southern and Western portions of the United States. There will be declines in employment in the Northeast. The demand for high school teachers will also come from the declines in student-teacher ratio. Having a reduced student ratio means that there will be more teachers who will be needed to teach the students.
High School Teacher Degree
The entry point for a career as a high school teacher is a bachelor’s degree, typically holding a major in the area that they wish to teach. They can major in chemistry, biology, math, history or any other subject taught in high school.
They also need to take a teacher preparation program and take courses in education and child psychology. The teacher education programs essentially prepare teachers how to teach and give them the opportunity to have hands-on experience through student teaching experiences.
High school teachers who wish to work in public schools must get a license. The requirements by state but generally involves passing a general teaching exam as well as a test that shows their expertise in the subject they intend to teach.
In order to keep their license, high school teachers are expected to enroll in yearly professional development classes and pass a background investigation. They are usually also expected to complete their master’s degree after getting their certification.
Private schools don’t have to require that their teachers be licensed but some prefer hiring teachers who have a license.