Higher Education Teaching Degrees Tips

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Should I take both online and traditional classes?

Attend Both Traditional And Online Classes

Is it beneficial to take both traditional and online teaching classes? Are you doing it to get a different perspective on student-teacher and student-student interaction, or would you take two classes for school credit only? Both kinds of classroom settings can teach you a great deal and help you learn about human nature and communication in different academic settings. On the other hand, with the debate raging about the validity of online classes versus the traditional degree, your best bet is to talk to counselors of all institutions involved before mixing classes. Just because courses have similar, if not exact, course descriptions, it doesn't mean they will transfer. The first step is to ensure any online program is accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC.org), then have your individual transcripts and a course catalogues ready when you talk to each of the counselors. Ironically, if you have the course catalogues available, you may find some other classes you took do cover a required class at another institution. This facilitates the counselor's job as well and can make mixing a much easier experience.

After talking to all parties involved, make sure to get all degree plans in writing, keeping a copy for your files and one for your school files. This will help you later if there is any confusion with your completed and transferred classes. See if taking classes in both settings would help you develop better skills for your teaching career. If the majority or all of your classes are online and it doesn't mix well with traditional classes, you can take a non-credit, continuing education class to find out about the traditional classroom setting.

How do I handle a bad situation in the classroom?

Preparing For Complicated Classroom Situations

Since the events of September 11, 2001, programs have been established across the country to protect against terrorist attacks and initiate first response teams. With this, the general publics' anxiety levels have increased while reducing their tolerance levels of threatening people. When teaching adults, it's important to remember that they have many other obligations, aside from being in your classroom. The woman in the front is missing putting her baby to bed; the man in the back worked a double shift and hasn't been home since 5am; the kid by the door is trying to earn the skills for a better job while working full-time. Stressors are different for evening class students but their coping measures may not be all that different.

With these students, there will always be good and bad classes and there may be times when a spouse, significant other or child crashes class and causes a disturbance. Most of these will be easily diffused, but if there are problems, know what your security options are on the campus where you teach. Have your cell phone available and talk in a calm, non-demeaning voice. If you feel the need, take a self-defense class but only use the technique of you are directly threatened. Do not try to disarm any assailant and don't try any heroic moves unless they are in self-defense. Just like any teaching job, students are human and come with baggage. Learn to keep yourself and your students as safe as possible.

How do I learn to become a good teacher?

Taking Your Online Studies To The Classroom

No matter if you are teaching adults or toddlers, being a teacher can be tricky but being a great teacher and motivator can be even more difficult. We all had great teachers, and not so great teachers, during our years in school. Pull from these experiences when deciding on what kind of teacher you want to be. If they are still teaching or available, call up some of your favorite teachers up and offer to take them to lunch or coffee. Ask them why they became educators, what they love about the profession, what they hate and what they could give or take. Ask them what motivated them as an educator and the tools they used to motivate students.

Don't stop there; ask your online professors the same questions. Schedule time during office hours and ask why they became a teacher? Why are they teaching adult education? And who motivated them when they were students?

Just because you may not sit in a traditional classroom doesn't mean you can't learn from your professors just as well, helping you on your way to becoming a great educator.

What do I teach?

Finding Your Niche-What to Teach

Teaching is a broad based word used for a broad field of study. When considering what to teach and who to teach, take time to think it through. If you are still harboring ill feelings about your high school experiences, that may not be the best grade for you to teach. If you've not had the experience of teaching adults, one way to find out if you'd enjoy this age group is to take an informal or evening class. This age group is generally more interested in participating in classroom discussions, more likely to show up for class, and will have a much different points of view and life experiences than standard (daytime) college students. It can be a refreshing change and one where you can be less restricted in thinking while inspiring others to do the same. Being a student among those you are thinking of teaching can be a great way to make a decision on what you want to teach.


Extending Into The Teaching World

Community colleges and universities that offer informal or evening classes may allow those with life experiences, such as computer programming, education, languages, science, travel backgrounds, writing or other liberal arts fields, to teach without having a formal teaching certification. This is state and university dependent so it's best to check with the colleges you're interesting in teaching with and asking.
You can also start out as a tutor as well. Many high schools and community colleges have programs for those needing additional help with their studies. This may be an excellent way to get your foot in the door and network, plus add to your resume and learn if teaching an older student is where your strength lays.

Young mothers and fathers who are trying to return to high school benefit from programs that encourage them to continue their studies and offer free child care. If you are interested in helping young mind succeed, look into your local high school programs to find out more information. This may only involve a few hours a week but again, can help you decide what age group to (or not to) teach.

How do I meet my classmates?

Interacting With Other Online Students

Most people who have decided on an online degree program are doing so because of cost, time, family or work commitments or any combination of above. This leaves little time to socialize with other students but when your classroom is on the Internet, this can prove to be impossible.

One way to interact with your fellow classmates is through chat room sessions or online study sessions. If you live in the same city, you can suggest in-person study groups or phone study sessions. Ideally, this can help you review and discuss the lectures and question each other, preparing for exams and projects. Also, ask other students about their jobs and places of employment -- you just may make a good connection or lead on future employment.

How do I get into the practical part of teaching while I'm in school?

Practical Experience in a Cyber-space Classroom

Teaching adults is an entirely different ball game than teaching the average 18-year-old college student.

With the job market constantly changing and offering no "steady jobs" as our parents and grandparents boasted, more adults than ever are returning to the classrooms. Here, they hope to increase their hiring potential and knowledge base, making them a more desirable employee. Understand, many adult students have family and job responsibilities and because of this, they may be better students than those who have neither. Community colleges working with public school systems offer informal classes from dancing to computer programming and are always looking for those in different fields to help instruct classes. This could be a great way to network, earn a little extra cash, and decide if teaching adults is where you want to be.

The Literacy Project (literacyproject.org) is a way to give back to the community and to help someone who has returned to school to learn to read and acquire basic literary skills. Imagine going through most of your life illiterate or able to read at a third grade level and supporting your family. Finally, you decide it was time to learn to read. What courage it must take to a step towards better educating yourself and what an amazing student to teach.

With the growing immigrant population, volunteers to teach English as a Second Language is always in demand. Check with your local school districts, churches, colleges/universities or Englishclub.org and find out where their programs are and what are the certification requirements for your state.

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Jerry Mayo