Teacher Outlook: Cloudy At Best


My wife and I come from families where a number of people are teachers or have had teacher training. If fact, my wife taught pre-school for fourteen years and also worked as a Teacher’s Assistant in our local elementary school.

Shaping Young Lives

teacherTeaching remains a desirable profession for many college students who understand that they can have a wonderful impact in helping to shape children’s lives. But, the field has been undergoing a lot of changes of late including requiring students to meet standardized testing and certain benchmarks year after year.

One complaint frequently repeated among teachers is that many feel that students are being prepared to take and pass tests all throughout the year with some of the practical teaching pushed to the side. Morale is being effected as teachers see that their role in changing in ways they never imagined.

The Federal Government’s Expanded Role In Education

Another factor which is shaping the outlook for teaching is the government’s role in funding education. President Obama has promised to pour tens of billions of dollars into education, but that money has yet to reach the states who will be responsible for distributing funds to local school districts. With many states currently going through a financial crisis, teachers are being cut back and those that remain are finding that they’re responsible for managing more students.

Elementary school teachers are responsible for managing one classroom and teaching all or most subjects. Art, speech, music and occasionally social studies may be handled by another teacher, while in some districts two teachers manage the same classroom.  Middle school and high school teachers are trained in a specific subject area and are hired accorded to their training.

Training & Licensure

Depending on the state they are licensed in, teachers can be certified as special education, elementary, math, science, Language Arts, social studies, arts or some other field.  Generally, there is a shortage of math and science teachers and abundance of English and history teachers. Special education and other “specialty” teachers are in demand, but often depend on district funding for their respective programs. This means that if a district isn’t fully committed to advancing the arts, then the school’s art program could be weak.

All public school teachers must be licensed which means that they have completed a training program of some sort. This means that they are in possession of a bachelor’s degree in their field of study and/or have a master’s degree or are working toward one.  Some states accept teacher candidates with degrees in other fields, providing “alternate route” training for the probationary instructor.

Pay is a matter of importance and generally varies depending on experience, district, training and other factors. Benefits are considered to be excellent and include health, dental, retirement, paid time off, etc. Though most teachers work a ten-month schedule, teachers frequently take other positions over the summer or go back to school.

Despite the short term uncertainty for the teaching profession, the long term outlook appears to be quite good especially with renewed commitment from lawmakers to fund education to the extent promised.

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Photo Credit: Heriberto Herrera


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Categories: Career Planning