To Elementary Teachers: I need some advice about becoming a teacher and getting hiredI'm a junior in high school and looking to become an elementary teacher. I really like history. I've been told...

To Elementary Teachers: I need some advice about becoming a teacher and getting hired

I'm a junior in high school and looking to become an elementary teacher. I really like history. I've been told by many people that along with the Elementary Education major, you also have a minor. Is it possible to do a history minor? Would I get hired? Any other advice?

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Prefacing my answer to this question would be a couple of career guiding posts. Initially, it should be noted that what is presented here is simply my experience and different answers may vary. Accordingly, I would suggest that one should always be ready to embrace the nature of individual change and the dynamics of college upon your career choice.  This is in no way meant to say that you will not become a teacher, or a primary aged teacher, but rather that opportunities and experiences might allow you to envision new images of your "professional self." I only say this out of personal experience.  My goal throughout my education preparation was to teach at the university level.  Then, I started working in a high school and this became my focus.  After my first teaching job- Teaching Spanish to Kindergarten to Sophomores- at a K-12 Building, I became enamored with the Middle School child, and this is the age I have been teaching for the last 12 years.  Experiences and opportunities help to create a new sense of professional self and one should be open to them.

In terms of having any minor or any further course of study with your Education degree, I have always believed that if you can afford in both time and money to gain more and wider academic rigor to your teaching degree, it will help expand your reach in the teaching market.  There is a natural fluidity in the process of hiring in education.  Administrators might be interviewing a candidate for one position and something might click, causing the administrator to match up the candidate to another post.  The more opportunity you present in your own background, the greater the chance you can fit into this fluidity.  Additionally, with an emphasis on "qualified" individuals under No Child Left Behind Mandates, the more qualifications you can present in your own background, the better it will be.  There used to be a time when teachers could have "taken a couple of courses" in a subject area and be allowed to teach.  The stress on accountability has changed this drastically, as any stakeholder can enquire about teacher qualifications.  The more training and formal education one has in a subject area, the better it is.  Another effect is that it allows you, as a prospective hire, greater flexibility in seeking out a teaching position.

Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Good for you! You have a goal (a great one!) and are already thinking ahead. What I would add to the discussion is this suggestion. Starting now, avail yourself of any opportunity you might have to work with children, especially in teaching situations. For instance, in my school district there is a program that matches community volunteers with elementary kids who need to catch up in reading and/or math. It provides guided, one-on-one instruction, and the results have been phenomenal. There are also after-school programs through the Y that always need volunteers. Does your high school have a Future Teachers club? If so, consider joining it--or starting one. When you get to college, try to find campus/community activities that relate to your career choice.

All of these activities, in high school and in college, will help you build your resume, and they will show future employers that your interest in children and in education has been a part of your life for a long time.

I hope you enjoy the rest of your school years and find yourself in your own classroom. Teaching is just the best. You will never have two days alike!

sharrons eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that the availablity of jobs also depends on the part of the country in which you teach.  I know that in North Carolina, (prior to the current recession) their were always jobs available.  However, I noticed that teachers from the midwest who moved to NC for jobs would always tell me that their werent a lot of teaching jobs available in that part of the country..

With that said, History could make you more marketable if you decided that you wanted to teach high school or middle school.  In North Carolina, after you have been teaching for three years, you are able to receive a license in just about any other field---you just have to pass the Praxis.

If History is something that you are really passionate about, I suggest you go for it.  You never know where life will take you...

Noelle Thompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The previous answers have been so spectacular that I barely have anything to add!  : )  I will just share one tidbit about being hired that has worked for me.  Ironically, this was the one piece of advice that helped the most from all of my training in education.  I was told (by a school principal who came to speak to us) that what he most wanted from a candidate is "to not have to go through the hiring process again for a long time"!  Therefore, his point was to show that you were going to be at that job for many, many years.  In his mind, that gave the particular candidate a "leg up" over every other.  Learning this truth always made me very sad, . . . and it still does.  Still, perhaps it will help you get the job.  : )

drmonica eNotes educator| Certified Educator

First of all, congratulations on choosing teaching as a career! I am a former principal and I work with new teachers, so I’ll offer you an answer to your question. Yes, absolutely you can pick up a minor in history while majoring in elementary education. It might actually make you more attractive as a teaching candidate. What schools look for in new hires is appropriate certification first of all, so getting your certificate in elementary education is very important before seeking a teaching job.

Good luck!

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Getting a minor in history along with an elementary ed degree might open doors for you down the road if you decide to move up to middle school, too.  Elementary ed is usually from K-5, but in some states it's K-6.  That would enable you to teach at a middle school, but only in grade 6.  Without going back to school for a 6-12 history certification you would be restricted to 6th grade.

Congrats on your decision, and good luck!

slchanmo1885 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would suggest getting a middle school level History certification along with your Elementary certification to allow yourself to have more options. Hopefully, by the time you graduate there will be more jobs open in the field, but right now there aren't many, and any doors that you can open for yourself will be really helpful. 

teacherlady | Student

Unfortunately you will probably not be able to be hired as a upper level history teacher with a minor alone, however, you can get certified. To add a certification to your license you will have to take and pass the praxis exam in each subject matter.

Wiggin42 | Student

I'm not a teacher but I thought I could answer anyway because like you, I wanted to be a teacher. I figured out very easily if this is the career for me by volunteering at local elementary schools. I was a teacher assistant for summer school and after spending a whole summer with elementary students, I came to the conclusion that teaching isn't for me. 

mjsk291 | Student
To Elementary Teachers: I need some advice about becoming a teacher and getting hired

I'm a junior in high school and looking to become an elementary teacher. I really like history. I've been told by many people that along with the Elementary Education major, you also have a minor. Is it possible to do a history minor? Would I get hired? Any other advice?

In Minnesota, as well as many other states, you are not required to have a minor in order to become an elementary teacher.  Having said that, however, you should recognize that it is to your advantage to have an area of strength that matches a school's needs. Schools typically look for specialties such as reading, mathematics, and science in the elementary school when they departmentalize, so a minor or a certificate in one of those areas would be helpful.  A minor in history probably would not be as helpful in getting a job as a minor in reading or mathematics.  As to other advice, a desire to coach a sport or lead an extracurricular activity such as speech may give you an edge over another candidates.  Advertisements for teachers often indicate that there are also opportunities for coaching.

fiatmom | Student

I have been a teacher in an inner city school district for 22 years.  The fact that I had an Elementary Ed. degree along with a minor (and a master's) in Reading is what enabled me to be marketable.  I applaud you for wanting to be a teacher, it is truly a rewarding field.  Having a minor will also make you more marketable when looking for a job.