TEFL Teacher Career Development

There are many different paths on the road to becoming a teacher. As a college student in the United States it seemed there was only one: get certified in your state and start teaching. However, as I explored the idea of teaching internationally I found that as many teachers as there are, there are almost that many different paths to becoming, and developing your career as, a teacher.

There are a few ways to become a certified teacher in the United States. Someone looking to be a teacher can get certified in college with only one year of student teaching after graduation, or she can enroll in a post-graduate masters program at a university. Either way, extra work beyond a simple undergraduate degree is necessary.

In order to teach in the International School community, a teaching certificate equivalent to that that you would receive in the United States is generally necessary. As most of these schools are private, it is at their discretion if they want to hire an uncertified teacher. If this is the case the schools generally require a minimum of 3 years teaching experience as well as a masters degree.

Another way to teach both internationally or in the United States is to certify in EFL/ESL. There are almost countless paths to this?some paths having more benefits than others, naturally. In most countries, language schools are looking to hire EFL teachers with a degree. It is possible to find work without a separate degree, but pay generally tends to be lower and it is certainly harder to find a job than with a degree.

Once a teacher finds herself in a teaching job pursuing a career, the most important thing to do is to keep developing herself as an educator. Traditionally, this means attending seminars, going to workshops, taking more education classes, and staying on top of the latest advancements in her teaching field. This is an exceptionally important aspect to teaching, regardless of the subject matter. The importance of career development rests upon the fact that there are constantly new teaching methods being developed. Technology has arrived in classrooms in a big way. This spans from impacting what we know about students? brains?primary, secondary, adult?to the tools we are able to use in the classroom now. The traditional means of career development are necessary to stay up on the best ways to educate our students. Individual teachers simply do not have the time to research numerous methods? they have the time to attend workshops and seminars to see what catches their interest and try different things out in the classroom to see what works for them and their students.

Another part of career development that I think is often overlooked is alternative development. ?Experimentation with alternative systems of teacher development moved to a prominent educational policy agenda in the 1980?s.? Alternative development refers to anything outside of the traditional parameters of career development?so it?s a wide range of things. The most common alternative development is taking a teaching abroad sabbatical. Many schools throughout the United States have started to give permission to teachers to take a one year or two year leave of absence to teach abroad in hopes that this will help the teacher develop her educating techniques in ways the traditional seminars and workshops are unable to do.

I am very much in favor of teaching abroad sabbaticals as I think it is one of the best ways for teachers to experience truly new teaching styles. It also forces the teacher to experience a totally new culture, which necessarily puts the teacher in a student position in many ways as well. I adhere to the school of thought that the best teachers are also the best learners. A truly good teacher knows that she has much more to learn about the world and views herself as a lifelong learner. The teaching abroad sabbatical is a great way to bring this learner out of its teacher shell.

Professional development in education has many paths and many heads. It is a crucial aspect in ensuring the betterment of the profession and the education of students worldwide. As long as the educator is developing herself throughout her career rather than letting herself stagnate in her educating techniques, career development can be done in almost any fashion.

Works Cited:

Conley, Sharon. Linking Teacher Compensation to Teacher Career Development?. Educational Evaulation and Policy Analysis. Vol 17, 1995.

Guskey, Thomas R. ED. Professional Development in Education: New Paradigms and Practices. Teachers College Press; New York, 1995.

Kelchtermans, Geert. Getting the Story, Understanding the Lives: From Career Stories to Teachers´ Professional Development. Teaching and Teacher Education. Vol. 9, 1993.

1. Conley, Sharon. Linking Teacher Compensation to Teacher Career Development?. Educational Evaulation and Policy Analysis. Vol. 17, 1995, 219.

Author: Courtney Jensen

Date of post: 2007-04-02