Whether you feel that you chose teaching, or teaching chose you— there remains the practical question of what grade level(s) best suit you, personally and professionally. Where can you share your talents and skills to impact the lives of your future students? The choice may not always be yours, but if you are given options, it’s good to have a sense of the best fit.
Here are some tips on how to decide:
Use observation time early and often:
Assumption education majors can begin classroom observation as early as freshman year. Try to balance the time spent watching the teacher with close observation of students. Do you recognize the particular developmental steps and challenges for a specific grade? Be sure to observe several different grade levels to see which age sparks your curiosity and passion.
Volunteering + summer experience:
Formal observation can offer one kind of experience, but you may also want to volunteer or get an internship to refine your sense of what grade fits you best. Whether you work as a tutor, mentor, teaching assistant, or even kid-sitter — paid, volunteer and summer work provide a good opportunity to work with children of different grades and ages. You can volunteer at after-school programs, camps and church events to gain a more rounded take on each age and developmental stage. Experiment in these settings with different teaching approaches— for example, see how nonverbal approaches to teaching work.
These experiences will not only help you gain clarity on the right fit for you, but you’ll also build a stronger resume in the process.
Ask your neighbors, people at church, family and friends and you will quickly find parents who can provide insights into raising kids of different ages. Find a good guide to child development for educators, and come up with a relevant list of questions. What qualities did the parents value most among the teachers they’ve encountered at various grade levels?
Ask yourself the following questions:
How will teaching enable to you to lead a fulfilling life? Some secondary teachers say the deeper exploration of particular topics or writers feed their own intellectual development. Does the idea of outside activities (yearbook, student drama) required of secondary teachers excite or discourage you? Do you want to coach? What about your own plans for raising a family — how might this impact your choice?
Talk to current teachers:
Nobody can run through the pros and cons of teaching certain grade levels like current teachers. Prepare a list of questions in advance and ask about shadowing opportunities. Assumption’s web site is a good place to begin to familiarize yourself with the different courses and licensing required for each grade level and specialization.