So You Think You Want to Teach Part 3: Before You Take the Credentialing Leap

Here’s part 3 of the So You Think You’d Like to Teach School series. The idea for this series came out of some questions I’ve gotten from folks interested in making teaching their profession.

Volunteer or at least observe 20-40 hours in a classroom, preferably in the same one. If you have to take vacation time from your job, please do. It is remarkably illuminating watching someone work. Plus you will get a head start on what is expected when you are in the front of the room. It will also help you get a head start on your credentialing school application.

Read teacher books and blogs. 

Books I found inspiring:

Read some blogs to get you thinking about what issues teachers are facing today. Here are some of my favorites.

It’s Not All Flowers and Sausages

Blogging Through The Fourth Dimension

Teaching With Soul

Informational interview all kinds if teachers: ones who love their jobs and those that hate them. Find out why. It is better to know what you are getting into before you find yourself in a career you hate.

Make teacher connections on Twitter. New teacher chat #ntchat on Wednesdays at 5pm PST is a treasure trove of excellent ideas. Other helpful hashtags include: #mathchat #edchat

Read 20 Tidbits for New Teachers from Lisa Dabbs.

Substitute teach.  Sub teaching was as beneficial {or more} than my credential program in a lot of ways. Kids will never be more ill-behaved than with a sub, so you get a sneak peek into future behavior issues now. It helped my classroom management a lot. Plus, being paid to practice teaching? I’d say a pretty good gig.


Did I miss anything? Have a question about teaching? If so, leave me a note in the comments.

Stay tuned for upcoming topics in the series: Classroom Management, Taming the Homework Beast, Parents: Friend or Foe?


Interested in more about Life As A School Teacher? Be sure to click the Life As A School Teacher category link below.

So You Think You’d Like To Teach School?

Recently I’ve gotten some interest in the hows and whys behind my teaching story. So I started a series called So You Think You Want to Teach School.
I figured you also may be interested or can add your own story or thoughts in the comments.
What made you want to become a school teacher?
My husband is a teacher. While I worked in politics on the exact opposite schedule, I got to see and hear what great fun he was having at work. A bitter pill since I so wasn’t having any fun.I grew up thinking I’d be a teacher of some kind. I definitely wanted to have some life experience under my belt before I got in front of a classroom full of students, so I spent a little more than a decade working in politics. While I was jumping from job to job, office to office, campaign to campaign I completely lost sight of my desire to teach. As in, totally forgot about it.Once it became clear a political life wasn’t for me, I decided to try teaching and while applying to credential programs I discovered my original college entrance essay all about how I wanted to work in politics long enough to have contributed to the world in that way and to have something to contribute to my students.

Clearly I thought (at the time), I’d be teaching high school social studies or government at the community college level. Turns out,  I was made to teach elementary school. {See: Best Part}

Here’s a little interview I did talking about discovering my inner teacher, dining with rock stars and working too much.

Was it scary to change careers?

Absolutely! But the thought of staying where I was scared me even more.

I bridged the money and experience gap through substitute teaching for a year while I was earning my teaching credential. Nothing prepares you for teaching like doing it every day with new kids – not even your credential program.

During that year I learned about classroom management (and how it was the most important part of being able to teach), organization, ages of students I was most interested in teaching, and that yes, I really like kids and wanted to spend my work days with them.

What program/school did you go through to get your credential? Would you recommend the program/school you went through?

I went through the UCDavis/Sac State Collaborative program – an intense 1 year program which has since been dissolved.  Both colleges offered challenging courses and helped me develop my teaching philosophy.

UC Davis professors helped me learn how to teach kids to read (and pass the RICA), how to use a read aloud to develop a community of learners, challenge my students with writing in math, use games to further learning as well as teach me some math fundamentals I never learned.

Who knew multiplication was actually just repeated addition?

You did?

Am I the only one who thought it was just a series of step to follow?Sacramento State helped me get over my fear of science (hands on learning and curiosity about how stuff works), look at my biases on race, class and gender and figure out how I’m going to get a room full of kids to do what I need them to do when I need them to do it.What do you love most about teaching?Friends, may I be honest here? I’ve had a LOT of co-workers before and none are even in the ballpark of awesome like my third graders.Seriously. Eight year olds are amazing. They are like super human of the little kids. Smart, funny, kind, generous, willing to try to understand their sarcastic teacher even when they have no idea what she’s talking about.  They usually don’t cry, will try most things and they love recess as much as I do. Also they think I’m the best reader, writer and jump-roper they know.

Can you say that about your co-workers?

What do you like least about teaching?

Hmmmm… the endless meetings for meeting sake? What about paper work for paper work sake? Everyone and their grandma thinking they know how to do your job better than you because they went to school? The national “debate” how my profession is RUINING THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT?

Christ, I may have to start a whole other blog for this one. Since I don’t have time for that, please go read Mrs. Mimi at It’s Not All Flowers and Sausages. She says it better than I do anyway.

Stay tuned for Part 2!


Do you have any questions about becoming a teacher? Do you have anything to add?