Many people dream of teaching. Becoming an educator means having the unique opportunity to affect the lives of young people in a number of positive intellectual and emotional ways. If you look forward to teaching in order to be a role model, spread the importance of a good education, or simply to teach and learn about a field you love, it’s worth looking into gaining experience in the field of education before you even begin the process of becoming a certified teacher.
Why start with volunteering, working as a teaching assistant, or some other type of work within the field of education? Well, teaching is more than a career. Being an educator is a vocation. The work requires an incredible dedication to the ideals and ethics of education, as well as personal strength and a commitment to the job. There are many challenges that accompany a career as a K-12 educator. And while you can’t fully experience those challenges until you begin teaching, working with educators and observing the process from within can be a revealing process.
There are a number of different avenues you can take in order to experience what a career in education might be like. Volunteering is one such avenue. Look into volunteer opportunities with your local school system. They may have openings for volunteers to help supervise lunch periods, chaperone field trips, or even work in the classroom. Don’t discount other venues for related volunteer work either. Your local library or community center is likely to need volunteers as well. Both may have literacy programs, after school tutoring, or other similar opportunities that will give you the chance to experience what it means to teach first hand.
You can also look into community groups like Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts or 4H for the chance to share your knowledge and be a role model. Find out whether teaching and mentoring is for you, now, before you devote your time to earning a teaching certification.