January 21, 2018

Choosing a Degree in Secondary Education

If you are pursuing a degree in secondary education, you will want to determine exactly what you want to teach. Unlike elementary education, where you can get a general teaching degree and then teach all subjects, secondary school teachers must specialize in at least one subject. You will be teaching older children (sixth grade or older), so you will have to become somewhat of a subject specialist before you can teach.

The Basics of Getting a Degree in Secondary Education

If you want to teach high school or middle school, you’ll need to get a bachelor’s of education with a minor in whatever it is you wish to specialize in. It’s not a bad idea to double major in education and your subject of choice – this will give you an edge over the competition. Most people who double major graduate from college in five years instead of four years, but you can do it in four and a half years if you take summer classes.

What Degree in Secondary Education Will Be Best For You?

When choosing a subject to specialize in, you need to keep your end goal in mind. For example, do you want to teach biology? Then you may wish to double major in education and biology, but you also may want to minor in another science, such as earth sciences, chemistry or physics. Why? Most schools are too small to hire a full time biology teacher. They will expect you to be a general sciences teacher, able to teach a range of science classes.

Let’s say you want to teach physical education. You’ll want to double major in education and physical education, but you’ll probably want to minor in health sciences. Most physical education teachers are required to teach health classes in addition to gym class.

Choose the Degree That Will Get You a Job

You’ll also want to take into consideration which jobs are in demand in your area. For example, there are usually an overabundance of art teachers, but math and science teachers seem to always be in demand.

What are the local middle schools and high schools looking for? There are a few ways to find out. You can check online advertisements for teaching positions, but you won’t get the full picture that way. The best way to check out availability is to schedule informational interviews with principals of teachers in the schools near you and ask what they subject specialists they are looking for.

When you meet with the principal, you’ll want to accomplish two things. Most importantly, you want to establish a relationship with the principal and express a desire to student teach and/or work at the school at some time in the future. This will help you get a job after you graduate. Then you will also want to explain that you understand teacher demand fluctuates each year, but you’d like to know what kinds of teachers they see shortages of. You’ll gain valuable information that may affect what you choose as your specialty, plus you’ll get a foot in the door in several schools.

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