Some college students feel the calling to become a teacher. It’s a noble profession, and in many times in history and in many cultures, the teacher is held in high regard. Luckily, there are many volunteer, internship and student teaching programs, such as Teach for America and AmeriCorps, for college students and graduates to get a taste of the teaching profession and to give back to the community.
Who decides to be a teacher?
The kind of person who wants to give back to the community, to work with children and enlighten their minds might choose to be teachers.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the typical college graduate will change his career field up to three times. Commenting on the way today’s students want a more fulfilling career path, Wendy Libby, Ph.D., president of Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, remarked in “Stephens helps students spread their wings,” for Columbia Daily Tribune, August 17, 2008: “All the research on this generation of millennial students points to their emphasis on life above work, on causes that are important to them, on their interest in making the world a better place…This is a great starting place- for students to ask themselves what they value, what they are competent in and how this matches existing or emerging career options.”
Qualities needed to be a teacher
Teaching a classroom of young children, unruly teenagers, underserved kids or even adults who want to continue their education takes a certain kind of person. According to La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, the qualities and skills that an effective teacher should possess are:
- commitment to the students and the profession
- compassion and empathy for students as they learn
- creativity, versatility and ability to be innovative
- flexibility with lesson plans and ways to motivate people
- knowledge of the subject and the desire to always quest for knowledge
- organizational skills and ability to make effective use of time
- positive and enthusiastic attitude
- a good sense of humor.
Teach for America
For a taste of the teaching profession, college students can check out Teach for America. The company has a program for underclassmen that offers opportunities with prominent non-profit organizations. Participants can choose between volunteer programs, internships, campus-based opportunities and summer programs. Of the many organizations in which college students may participate:
- American Chemical Society – teach elementary and middle school students basic science concepts.
- Breakthrough Collaborative – teach your own academic courses to middle school students from underserved areas in 25 cities.
- Jumpstart – work one-on-one with preschool children for a year. Help them build skills crucial to school success.
- Sponsors for Educational Opportunity – a chance for young people of color in business, law, banking, technology and philanthropy to contribute to black, Hispanic, Asian and Native American communities.
Tom Van Riper in “Best first jobs for college graduates,” a June 13, 2006 post on Forbes.com reported: “The teaching profession, through the fast-growing Teach for America program, is attracting students from the best schools who aren’t yet sure of their long-term career plans and don’t mind deferring a big paycheck for a couple of years.”
AmeriCorps each year places 80,000 people in public service positions in schools, nonprofit organizations and public agencies in the areas of education, public safety and health. AmeriCorps hands out the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award, which pays education costs up to $5,500 at qualified institutions of higher education for additional educational training or to pay student loans.
For a list of community, education and government programs and fellowships for teachers, visit Grinnell College’s “75 great opportunities” for social commitment that includes positions helping underserved, inner city, religious, Native American, overseas, middle school and young adult students.
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