Explore Careers in Education
Many students with teaching assistantships or other teaching opportunities have not had formal training and wonder how to build their teaching skills. Practice is an effective way to improve a skill, and this is true for teaching as well. Not only do teaching experiences help you to become a better teacher, they also strengthen job applications, both in and out of academia. Explore opportunities for getting formal or informal teaching experience in your area. This can be through volunteering to give a lecture at a local school, volunteering to teach as part of an after-school or summer program, or taking part in fellowships or internships (e.g. the Soil and Water Conservation District, among other agencies, may have opportunities for you to participate in informal teaching experiences at a local event or in a classroom setting). Find resources on and learn more about getting teaching experience from the On the Cutting Edge Preparing for an Academic Career module.
Finding a job that is compatible with your interests ultimately results in higher job satisfaction. As a first step, as advised in our section on non-academic jobs, take an inventory of your interests and find career opportunities that align with those interests; you may not be able to find your 'dream job' but an inventory gives you a place to start your search. Also, keep an open mind - many students approach the job search process with tunnel vision that they want to teach at a specific type of institution in a specific location. While it is great to know what you want, you may be over-limiting yourself and missing opportunities that are well aligned with your interests. Participants from several years of the On the Cutting Edge Preparing for an Academic Career annual workshop indicated that learning about jobs at two-year colleges, informal education, primarily undergraduate institutions, and research institutions broadened their perspective and opened them up to seeking out opportunities at institutions outside of their initial interest.
- Interested in teaching K-12 students? Check out the Teaching K-12 page
- Interested in teaching at a college or university? Check out the Post Secondary page
Getting started in the classroom can be daunting: while you are more of an expert on the subject matter than the majority of your students, you may be intimidated by the public speaking aspect of teaching, planning a course/lesson, and/or teaching students of similar age or older who may have hands-on experience in the field. Don't let this sway you from teaching! Use the resources below to equip yourself for the classroom.
Remember that you are most likely the 'expert' in the classroom and you are likely more interested and excited about the material than your students are. Your job is to deliver the information to your students in an informative, and hopefully, interesting way. Ideally, the intent is to spark their interest and engage them in learning the material. If you are teaching introductory level students or non-majors, you may think of it like teaching a foreign language - be careful with overusing jargon. This Getting Started: The Basics of Teaching website from Colorado State University includes tips for new teachers, including making content interesting, making yourself understandable, accounting for different learning styles, and providing a useful context.
Finding a mentor, asking for help, and learning where to look for help and resources can help make teaching less daunting. No one has to go it alone in teaching. There's always help and you don't have to reinvent the wheel. You can find a mentor, ask friends what they are doing, attend a workshop or professional development event, or learn to use web resources (such as the [link /serc.carleton.edu SERC websites), for starters.
- The SERC Site Guides offer informational sites and examples, organized by topic and theme. They explore topics/themes such as: for Assessment, Teaching Large Classes, Teaching Quantitative Skills, Thinking and Reasoning, Teaching Introductory Courses, and the K12 Portal,
- From the K12 Portal, explore innovative tools to supplement teaching, including as visualizations, videos and simulations, and ways to incorporate satellite imagery and quantitative skills into the classroom,
- Common teaching strategies for the K12 Classroom or Post Secondary Classroom,
- Large, searchable collections of faculty-contributed:
- Teaching activities to get inspired for new activities or for ready-to-use examples of activities you can adapt to your classroom and
- Visualizations, including images, maps, and videos. This page also provides links to resources that can help you use visuals in the classroom.
- Workshops, webinars, and other PD opportunities offered from SERC partner projects,
- And more!