A Career in Teaching

Regarded widely as the noblest profession of all, teaching is a field you may want to consider as a career path for your child. Here’s all the information you need.

By Parama Gupta

A Career in Teaching

‘Teaching is the profession that creates all the other professions,’ goes an old adage. Quite true! Not only that, no other profession holds the promise of self-development and personal fulfilment as teaching does.

Teaching involves not just imparting knowledge but also developing students’ originality, tapping their potentials and guiding them towards their calling in life. Besides honing their skills in a specific area, a teacher’s job also includes the all-important task of helping students in their character-building and personality development. Yes, the responsibilities are immense. But, so are the rewards. The self-fulfilment that comes with the knowledge that one has been instrumental in showing a direction to several others in their life's purpose and in shaping them as individuals, is unmatched by any lucrative rewards that other professions may offer.

In India, there is today a huge demand for well-trained and highly motivated teachers at all levels. Teaching can actually be quite an exciting career path. And, if your child shows an inclination for it, then you should do all in your power to back him in his pursuits.

Required Skill Set

Professional skills

When it comes to professional skills, a teacher should possess the following -

  • in-depth knowledge of existing theories and concepts in one’s subject
  • a knack for research
  • a drive to constantly update knowledge based on latest developments in the subject

Besides the skill set mentioned above, a good teacher should also possess the following traits.

  • Excellent communication skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Creativity and innovation
  • Patience and Understanding
  • Self-confidence and Assertiveness
  • Discipline
  • Honesty and integrity
  • Fairness and impartiality
  • Positive outlook towards life

So, it is suggested that you pay attention towards developing these traits in your child if you are serious about motivating her to take to this profession. These are only a few essential traits that a teacher is expected to have. However, this is not the end. A teacher has to strive to be a role model with high standards.

Career Options

Mainstream education

Mainstream educational institutions include schools and colleges. Let us explore the job profile and the qualification required for a teacher at the different stages of mainstream education.

Elementary education (School level)

Preschool and Kindergarten stage

A teacher handling preschool children needs to undergo a special training for nursery education. After passing his class XII exam, he should undertake a diploma or a certificate course in Nursery Teacher Training.

A teacher at this level has to have a way with tiny tots and be able to handle their various moods. Also, he has to be highly imaginative to capture the attention of young children and introduce basic concepts in a way that will stay with them for long. He has to be a story-teller, singer, actor, and much more, all at once.

Primary school stage

This includes classes I to V. Here, a teacher is not expected to have a specialisation but has to teach the basics of all subjects.

It is a huge task as this is the stage when foundations of mathematics, science and grammar are laid. Children of this age group can be difficult to control at times and the teacher needs to exert command over the class, besides providing a friendly atmosphere and making learning a fun-filled affair.

To become a teacher at this level, your child needs to have a basic qualification of Bachelors of Education (B. Ed) degree, which she has to take up after completion of a bachelors’ degree in a specific discipline like arts (English, History, Geography, etc.) or science (Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, Biology, etc.)

A B.Ed course will prepare your child by training her on various aspects of education, which includes theories of education, teaching methodologies, practices in classroom management, handling examinations, and so on.

While a B Ed course is generally completed in two years, there are institutions that offer Integrated Teachers Training Programmes of five years.

Secondary, Higher secondary and Senior secondary

To teach students at the secondary (classes VI to VIII), higher secondary(classes IX and X) and senior secondary (classes XI and XII) levels, a teacher needs to be specialised in a particular subject by completing a masters’ degree in addition to the B.Ed degree.

Handling students at this stage demands a lot of the teacher’s energy as she has to pay attention to the progress of each and every student in the class.

Higher Education (Colleges and Universities)

For teaching at the college level, aspirants are required to first have a master’s degree in their chosen subject with a minimum of 55 per cent marks.

They should then clear eligibility tests such as the National Eligibility Test conducted by the UGC twice every year for various disciplines or State Eligibility Tests conducted by universities in various states of India.

Further, completing a doctoral degree adds to the chances of growth in terms of position and salary.

Undergraduate level

At this stage, a teacher, referred to more commonly as a lecturer or a professor, has to handle students who have come fresh out of schools. The teacher, at this stage, has the huge responsibility of initiating students to a new way of academic life. Besides delivering lectures, she has to help students adapt themselves to the habit of self-study and has to aid them in developing their own voice and shaping their worldview.

A teacher may not get the luxury of time to devote to each and every student, but has to make out time occasionally to interact with them and give feedback on their work.

Post graduate level

At the PG level, students are expected to have gained the preliminary level of training in their respective fields and come with the purpose of gaining mastery over the subject.

Not deviating much from the style of teaching at the UG level, the teacher’s focus should be on adding to the already existing knowledge the student has gained and guide him to develop his research and original thinking skills. From this stage onwards, the teacher begins to assume the role of a guide, who has to encourage students to work on their own.

Non-mainstream options

Besides teaching in mainstream educational institutions, your child also has the option of considering teaching in non-mainstream ones like language centres or soft skill training centres. Even in these places, the rewards of teaching are high. Here, a trainer gets to interact with a variety of individuals and help them acquire certain skills.

Besides, special needs educators are also much in demand. Such educators work with children who have learning difficulties. This area calls for immense dedication and mental robustness.

Several professionals working in fields like banking, medicine, engineering or management later become a part of the teaching fraternity in their chosen fields and pass on their expertise and knowledge to the new crop of professionals.

Leading by example

A large group of youngsters across different cities in India have led by example in the last few years by taking up voluntary teaching activities. Initiatives like Bhumi, Hindustan Paathshala and Teach for India have assumed the proportions of nationwide movements. These organisations rope in young volunteers to impart elementary education to children belonging to underprivileged sections of the society. Some of them also provide remuneration to volunteers. Several youngsters have left well-paying jobs in the corporate sector to pursue teaching as the ultimate calling of their life, by joining such organisations, while many others teach part time even while working at their regular jobs. Before sending volunteers on teaching assignments, these organisations provide specialised training.

If you want to inspire your child to take to this noble profession, then take him to the nearest corporation school that is covered under the Teach for India project, or any other venue where young volunteers work with little children. When your child observes a session or two of these classes, where highly innovative methods of teaching are used, he is sure to come back inspired to take up teaching. You can even encourage your child to volunteer at one of these organisations, which can be a good practice if he wants to enter mainstream teaching later.

A Career in Teaching

List of Top Educational Institutions in India

  • Delhi University
  • University of Calcutta
  • University of Madras
  • University of Mumbai
  • Jadavpur University, Kolkata, West Bengal
  • Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
  • Presidency University, Kolkata, West Bengal
  • Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh
  • Banaras Hindu University, Banaras, Uttar Pradesh
  • Christ University, Bengaluru, Karnataka

To inspire your child...

Here's a list of a few eminent personalities from India who were also teachers:

  • Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam
  • Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
  • Savitribai Phule
  • Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar
  • Dr. Manmohan Singh
  • Rabindranath Tagore
  • Nissim Ezekiel
  • C K Prahalad

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