Secondary School Teachers Overview
A secondary school teacher at a public school must be licensed with a bachelor’s degree and by completing an approved teacher education program. Secondary school teachers at private schools do not need to be licensed but are required to have a bachelor’s degree to teach. For hard to fill positions, some states offer alternative licensing programs to secondary school teachers. Understanding a student’s needs, the ability to motivate them and communicate well, are important qualifications for secondary school teachers. Job prospects are best in rural and undesirable school districts as well as those teaching mathematics, science or bilingual education.
Nature of the Work for Secondary School Teachers
Secondary school teachers play an important role for students during their formative years by fostering the intellectual and social development of their students. They provide their students with an environment and the proper tools to develop into responsible adults.
Whether they use a hands-on approach with props or ask students to work together in groups, secondary school teachers can provide instruction to students that will help them later on in life. Secondary school teachers will prepare report cards, listen to oral presentations, observe a student’s performance and potential as well as meet with members of the staff and parents to go over any personal problems or the academic progress of a student. For students having trouble in a particular area, secondary school teachers will asses the problem and work with them to improve in that particular area.
Secondary school teachers are responsible for delving into subjects deeper and teaching them more information about the world. They usually specialize in a particular subject, such as English or History, or teach career oriented subjects. Secondary school teachers may also be responsible for providing career guidance, help with job placement, and following up with students after they graduate.
Secondary school teachers can also be responsible for overseeing field trips, study halls, and other classroom activities. They might also assist students in choosing colleges or careers.
Resources such as the internet, computers and educational software are important for students and teachers. Teachers may use such resources to perform administrative and clerical duties such as recording grades while students use these resources to research and communicate with other students.
Secondary school teachers may also work with students from different racial, religious, and ethnic backgrounds. Some schools offer training to teachers to help them understand different backgrounds of their students.
Site-based management has become popular for secondary school teachers and parents who can make management decisions about the school. Some teachers are even involved in decisions such as budgeting, textbook choices or curriculum design.
Many secondary school teachers can find their jobs rewarding as well as stressful and frustrating. Working with unmotivated students or in rundown classrooms can contribute to this frustration. Heavy workloads and large classrooms can also contribute to this stress. Secondary school teachers working for private schools will experience working in smaller classes with more motivated students due to the selective admissions process.
Secondary school teachers can either work on their own or with other colleagues in teams.
The usually workweek for a secondary school teacher consists of 40 hours over a 10-month school year with a 2-month break. Those working year round will work 8 weeks with a 1 week break as well as a 5 week midwinter break.
Tenure is granted to secondary school teachers who have taught longer than 3 years. Though it doesn’t guarantee a job, it definitely provides some security.
Training, Other Qualifications and Advancement for Secondary School Teachers
Secondary school teachers at public schools need a license from a teacher education program and bachelor’s degree while those teaching at private schools only need a bachelor’s degree.
Secondary school teachers should not only take preparatory teaching courses at education programs but should also major in the subject they wish to teach.
In order to maintain accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council, secondary school teachers must complete courses in computers and technology and sometimes have to complete a student-teaching internship.
Professional development schools allow secondary school teachers to learn through the merging of theory and practice while gaining hands-on experience in a 1-year program after completing their bachelor’s degree.
Secondary school teachers in public schools must obtain a license from the State Board of Education or a licensure advisory board. Those working in private schools do not need a license.
All states require that secondary school teachers have a bachelor’s degree and complete an approved teacher training program. A master’s degree in education may sometimes also be required.
Applicant’s testing for a teacher’s license will be tested in subjects such as reading, writing, and teaching and some states are implementing performance-based testing as well.
Alternative licensure programs are offered to teachers who may not meet certain requirements but have a bachelor’s degree as a way to bring in more people to the profession.
Private schools usually only require secondary school teachers to obtain a bachelor’s degree.
Important qualifications for a secondary school teacher are good communication skills, patience, creativity, motivating students, and responding well to any problems students may have.
Certification can be received and can help secondary school teachers obtain better benefits such as higher pay.
Secondary school teachers may also become librarians, guidance counselors, instructional coordinators or other supervisory positions.
Employment and Job Outlook for Secondary School Teachers
Secondary school teachers hold 1.1 million jobs. Even though enrollment will vary by region, opportunities will be best for secondary school teachers in the South and West. Those who are geographically mobile as well as have a license will also have the best job opportunities.
Depending on locality, grade level and subject, job openings will be available for secondary school teachers. Job opportunities will also be better in rural areas and inner cities rather than suburban districts. Minority teachers will also have more job opportunities due to an increase in minority enrollment. The need for bilingual secondary school teachers will also grow.
Due to better pay and an active interest in education, there will be a larger supply of secondary school teachers. Substitute teachers and those changing careers can also be drawn from the pool to become secondary school teachers, as long as they meet the proper requirements.
Earnings and Salary for Secondary School Teachers
Median annual wages for salaried secondary school teachers are $52,200. The middle 50 percent earn between $42,070 and $66,110. The lowest 10 percent earn less than $34,600, and the highest 10 percent earn more than $82,000.