Choosing electives is a hard decision, especially if you don’t know which electives will help you get closer to your teaching goals. And because there’s a lot of different angles to come at this field from, it’s hard to figure out which ones are best for you.
To best prepare to become a teacher, high school students should take child development and/or psychology, speech classes, skills classes, and even teaching classes. However, there are many different subjects and age groups to teach, and there are different recommendations for them all.
In this article, you’ll discover more about these classes and how they can help you on your way to becoming a teacher, so keep reading to learn more!
In the Child Development elective, students learn about the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development of children from birth until 5 years old. Students will also learn the best ways to interact with and instruct young children. Child Development classes include a lot of hands-on activities, so be prepared for some fun! This class is perfect for high school students that are wanting to pursue a career in early elementary education, such as preschool and kindergarten.
Teaching as a Profession
This elective isn’t offered at many high schools, but if it’s offered at yours, take it! This class is true to the name—it teaches students how to be teachers. In these classes, students learn effective teaching strategies and how to work with others, and they get to apply these strategies to the real world. Students in Teaching as a Profession get to travel to local elementary and middle schools to observe a teacher of their choice and learn about teaching as they watch real teachers.
The application of this class to teaching is obvious—it teaches students that want to become teachers about the profession of teaching and how to excel at it.
At one high school, this class was partnered with a club called Educators Rising. Students can compete in several areas, including Children’s Literature, Lesson Planning and Delivery (in multiple areas), Job Interview, Public Speaking, and Ethical Dilemma, with a chance to compete nationally in Washington, D.C. Look at your high school to see if you can also participate in clubs to prepare yourself to be a teacher.
In Psychology, students learn more about why people do what they do, why they feel what they feel, and so much more. Additionally, students learn about research, the history of psychology, and even how to classify and treat mental disorders. This is so important in today’s world, especially as mental illness becomes more and more prevalent.
Psychology is similar to Child Development in that it teaches how the brain develops. The difference is that what is learned in a Psychology class will be applicable to a variety of age groups—it won’t be limited to a specific one.
Psychology is a great elective to take to prepare to be a teacher because it teaches students how to better understand their future students, and in general, their future colleagues. Also, Psychology can teach students about mental disorders and how to help those who have them in their classes.
Speech and Debate
Speech and Debate classes come in a variety of names, but whatever they’re called, they’ll definitely help the up-and-coming teacher. In these classes, students learn thinking and listening skills, improvisation, and how to articulate their thoughts clearly and confidently.
Sometimes, teachers have to answer random questions or teach topics that might be different from what a child has previously learned. In these situations, teachers need to be able to think quickly and critically to provide the best answer. They also need to be able to teach in a convincing manner so students will actually believe that the material is important.
Another great way that Speech and Debate or Public Speaking classes can be applied will be especially helpful to students that want to teach high school when they’re older. Those debate skills will really come in handy when you’re dealing with the especially sassy and smart-alecky student.
Language classes are a great way to put students ahead in the career game—no matter what career they want to go into. Teaching is no different. If you’re bilingual, you have the possibility to teach in a whole different category that isn’t available to those who can’t speak another language.
When we say language classes, we are not talking about the language arts classes that all of a sudden became English in high school. We are talking about Spanish, Japanese, French—the languages that kids like to learn just because they can sound cool, and, let’s be honest, the class that some parents will force their children to take.
These kinds of classes will be helpful to students that want to become teachers because they will not only open up more options for you, but they will also give you higher consideration for any job.
Also known as career and technical education, this category covers a huge variety of classes—from music and Family and Consumer Sciences to physical education and woodworking classes—and they’re all so important for those who want to become teachers, especially if you want to teach a specific skill. Want to be an elementary P.E. teacher? Take lots of P.E. classes! Want to teach kids how to play the violin? Learn how to play the violin! And then say a prayer, because trying to teach kids how to play the violin is like herding cats…and then hurting your eardrums.
What defines skills classes? Well, honestly anything that teaches you how to do something or teaches you about something is a skills class. For example, if you want to be a FACS teacher, you’d want to take the classes in that career pathway. They’d be things like Foods/Cooking, Sewing, Interior Design, Child Development, and more.
These classes are the best to take because they help you to explore so many different careers. Maybe you’ll find you like something better than teaching. Maybe you’ll find something else that you want to teach. Either way, any of the hundreds of skills classes available are the perfect choice for the up-and-coming teacher.