Gaining Teaching Experience
If you are changing careers, every book, every career counselor and every life coach will tell you the same thing – you really need to try the job before you switch careers. In fact, in the 10 steps to a successful career change, numbers 5, 6, and 7 all include really getting to know your potential new career by truly getting hands on experience – from the website:
- Get personal. Find out as much as much as you can about the new fields and reach out to personal contacts for informational interviews.
- Set up a job shadow (or two). Shadow professionals in fields of primary interest to observe work first hand. Spend anywhere from a few hours to a few days job shadowing people who have jobs that interest you in a school in your county (public or charter – the experience will be similar).
- Try it out. Identify volunteer and freelance activities related to your target field to test your interest.
A teaching career is no different. The more you can experience in a school setting, the better and you will be able to make a much more informed decision on becoming a teacher.
This is truly a great calling – but a calling that is just as demanding as it is rewarding.
So – What are some ways to get experience?
Substitute – as much as you can.
Our most successful teachers have substitute teaching experience. Make sure you are actively teaching a lesson. This gives you a chance to meet other teachers and to truly understand the great things about teaching, as well as any challenges. It also gives you an edge when job hunting – you will know school leadership, the teachers, the students, the school climate and culture – this gives you a leg up on the competition for a great teaching job.
Volunteer – at a school in your county where you would like to teach.
The administration has needs for additional support each day so find out where you fit and go for it!
Paraprofessional – assist with supervising students, grading, and occasionally provide instruction.
In some cases, you may provide dedicated assistance to exceptional children students or to students in general in dedicated locations, like computer labs.
Tutor – at lunchtime or after school in specific subject areas.
Administrators are seeking tutors and it is incredibly helpful to students and their teachers.
The more experience you have, the better prepared you are for day one in your classroom. Plus, it helps build up some great teaching skills for your resume, as well as contacts in your community schools.
Get all the teaching experience you can and put the teaching skills you learned in your North Carolina Teachers of Tomorrow program to work. It will be well worth it!