Do you have a strong desire to teach and learn? Do you want to make a difference in the lives of children and teenagers? Do you appreciate learning about history, politics, economics, and sociology? If you responded yes to these questions, you could be interested in working as a government teacher in the United States.
A government teacher is a social studies instructor who teaches classes about the structure, function, and history of the United States government, as well as its role in the globe. Civics, law, geography, and current events may also be taught by government teachers. Government teachers work in either public or private middle or high schools.
In the United States, being a government instructor necessitates a mix of education, certification, and experience. In this blog, we will walk you through the process of becoming a government instructor in the United States, covering the following topics:
The Benefits and Challenges of Being a Government Teacher
For a variety of reasons, working for the government may be a lucrative and meaningful job. Some of the advantages of working for the government include:
- You will be able to share your knowledge and enthusiasm for the United States government and its place in the world with your students.
- You have the opportunity to inspire your children to become knowledgeable and active citizens capable of participating in the democratic process.
- You get to help your pupils develop critical thinking, communication, and teamwork abilities.
- You will be exposed to a wide range of educational approaches, including lectures, discussions, debates, simulations, projects, and field visits.
- You will have a flexible schedule that will allow you to take time off during the summers and holidays.
- You will enjoy employment security as well as benefits such as health insurance, a retirement plan, and paid time off.
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However, becoming a government teacher has several drawbacks that you should be aware of. Some of the difficulties of being a government teacher include:
- You must contend with big class numbers, a wide range of student needs, and limited resources.
- You must deal with high-stakes testing, curriculum requirements, and accountability measures.
- You must deal with difficulties of classroom administration such as student behaviour, attendance, and punishment.
- You must balance a variety of tasks and responsibilities, including lesson planning, grading, reporting, and engaging with parents and administrators.
- You must stay up with new trends and advances in government and social studies.
When teaching sensitive or controversial topics, you must be prepared to deal with potential disagreements or conflicts.
The Education and Training Requirements for Becoming a Government Teacher
The education and training requirements for becoming a government teacher differ from state to state, but generally include the following steps:
Step 1: Get your Bachelor’s Degree
Earning a bachelor’s degree from an authorized institution or university is the first step toward becoming a government instructor. Depending on the regulations of your state, you may need to major in education or a field connected to government or social studies. You could major in political science, history, or legal studies, for example.
Coursework in educational psychology, curriculum development, instructional methods, assessment methodologies, classroom management, diversity and inclusion, educational technology, and student teaching will be required if you major in education.
If you major in government or social studies, you will need to take courses in American government, comparative politics, international relations, constitutional law, political theory, U.S. history, global history, geography, economics, and sociology.
You will need to finish general education classes in areas such as English composition, mathematics, science, humanities, and foreign language in addition to your main curriculum.
Step 2: Complete a Teacher Preparation Program
The second step in becoming a government teacher is to complete a teacher preparation program approved by your state’s education department. A teacher preparation program is meant to give you the knowledge and abilities you need to be an effective teacher in the classroom.
A teacher preparation program may be included as part of your bachelor’s degree program, or it may be a distinct program that you finish after you complete your bachelor’s degree. A typical teacher preparation program includes training in pedagogy, content knowledge, instructional strategies, educational research, and professional ethics.
A teacher preparation program will also involve field experiences in which you will be able to watch and practice teaching under the supervision of experienced teachers. Practicums, internships, and student teaching are examples of field experiences.
Step 3: Earn a Master’s Degree (Optional)
The third stage toward becoming a government teacher is optional but strongly advised. A master’s degree can help you develop your job, raise your compensation, and improve your teaching abilities.
Some states or school districts may need a master’s degree for licensing renewal or professional progression. Some colleges and universities may also demand a master’s degree if you want to teach dual enrollment or advanced placement courses.
A master’s degree in education or a field connected to government or social studies can be obtained. You could pursue a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction, educational leadership, special education, or political science, for example.
A master’s degree is normally completed in one to two years and includes coursework, research, and a capstone project or thesis.
The Certification and Licensing Process for Becoming a Government Teacher
The certification and licensing procedure for becoming a government teacher varies by state, but the following steps are generally involved:
Step 1: Pass the Required Exams
The first step toward becoming a professional and licensed government teacher is passing the necessary exams that demonstrate your knowledge and skills in teaching and in your subject area.
You may be required to take one or more of the following exams, depending on your state’s requirements:
- Core Academic Skills for Educators (Praxis Core): This exam assesses your fundamental skills in reading, writing, and mathematics.
- Praxis Subject Assessments: These tests assess your topic knowledge as well as your instructional abilities in certain subject areas such as social studies or government.
- PLT (Principles of Learning and Teaching) Exam: This exam assesses your broad pedagogical knowledge and skills across grade levels.
- The Praxis Performance Assessment for Teachers (PPAT) is a portfolio-based exam that assesses your ability to organize, instruct, and assess student learning.
- Individual states create these tests to test your knowledge and skills in accordance with their criteria.
More information about these tests can be found on the official website of Educational Testing Service (ETS) 1 or on the website of your state’s Department of Education.
Step 2: Submit an Initial Teaching License Application
The second step in becoming a qualified and licensed government teacher is to apply for your initial teaching license with the Department of Education in your state.
Depending on your state’s requirements, your initial teaching license is normally good for one to five years. You must provide the following documents to apply for your initial teaching license:
- Application form
- Official transcripts from all colleges or universities attended
- Proof of passing scores on the required exams
- Proof of completion of an approved teacher preparation program
- Fingerprint cards for background check
- Application fee
More information on the application procedure can be found on the website of your state’s Department of Education.
Step 3: Renew Your Teaching License
The final stage in becoming a certified and licensed government teacher is to renew your teaching license on a regular basis in accordance with your state’s requirements.
Depending on your state’s laws, you need to renew your teaching license every one to five years. To renew your teaching license, you must meet the following criteria:
- Complete continuing education credits or professional development activities
- Maintain satisfactory performance evaluations
- Pay renewal fee
You can find out more about the renewal process on your state’s Department of Education website.
The Job Outlook and Salary for Government Teachers
The job prospects and income for government instructors are affected by a variety of factors, including geography, education level, experience level, and demand.
As of May 2020, the median annual wage for middle school teachers was $60,810 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). As of May 2020, the median yearly compensation for high school teachers was $62,870.
According to the BLS, employment of middle school teachers will increase by 4% between 2019 and 2029. From 2019 to 2029, the number of high school teachers employed will increase by 4%. These rates of growth are comparable to the national average for all occupations.
These projections, however, may differ by region and topic area. According to the BLS 3, due to reasons such as enrollment growth, retirement rates, and budget constraints, some states may experience teacher shortages in certain courses such as social studies.
As a result, government teachers who are willing to relocate or teach in high-needs areas may have more job opportunities than others.
The Skills and Qualities of a Successful Government Teacher
You will need more than just knowledge and certification to be a good government teacher. You will also require particular talents and attributes to perform properly. A government teacher is a social studies teacher who specializes in teaching courses about the U.S. government and its interactions with the world. They may also cover other subjects such as civics, law, geography, and current events. Government teachers work with middle or high school students in public or private schools.