The term “specialized teacher” has a definition that’s difficult to pin down. Teachers today can specialize in so many areas and directions that it’s nearly impossible to say what a specialized teacher is. Add to the term the word “education” and we deepen our dilemma. “Specialized teacher education” can refer to many different things, all depending on the context.
Within the context of this article, we’re going to use a particular definition of the term “specialized teacher education.” For now, it refers to the educational curriculum particularly useful to prospective teachers with a bachelor’s degree in something other than teaching. In other words, specialized teacher education is for professionals with bachelor’s degrees in subjects like math, art, literature, athletic training, or the natural or social sciences who want to transition their careers to teaching.
Now let’s assume that the term “specialized teacher education” applies to you. You’ve got the itch to become a teacher, but your education and career have taken you down a different path. Thankfully, teaching opportunities exist for professionals like you.
So how do you begin your transition to teaching? Here are some Teaching Education Fast Facts to give you some ideas:
You can become a teacher by earning a master’s degree in teaching and securing a teaching license. You don’t even have to have a bachelor’s degree in teaching to do so. You can learn how to teach in your master’s program![i]
If you majored in subjects such as math, literature, art, music, or one of the social or natural sciences in your bachelor’s program, you can bring your knowledge to the classroom. People with bachelor’s degrees in these and other subject often become teachers with specialized subject area knowledge.
Assuming you know what to teach, you can learn how to teach through master’s programs for teachers. A master’s of art in teaching, for example, emphasizes coursework in areas such as classroom management, curriculum development, educational theory, and teaching pedagogy. Through specializations offered in graduate programs in education, you can learn how to apply those skills to your particular knowledge area.
You can further specialize your teaching by emphasizing areas of study in your master’s program. You can not only specialize your skillset for a particular grade level, but also for a particular area of education—special education, ESL, or online education, for example.
You can bring your professional experience into the classroom as a teacher with specialized subject area knowledge. Your experience in the private sector, for example, may add significant depth and insight to classroom instruction and discussion.
If you’re not prepared to earn a master’s degree right now, you can pursue an alternative program that prepares you to teach. Many professionals learn how to teach and gain experience through alternative programs. Note that even in this option, you’ll have to secure a teaching license.[i]
As you can see, there are many options for you to begin work as a specialized subject area teacher. By embracing your current knowledge and learning how to effectively teach, you can become an educator with a unique and distinct perspective. This will provide students with a fresh opportunity to study a subject you know and love. Perhaps they will come to know and love it too!