The call to become a teacher can be strong but not without hesitance.
With concerns about salaries and staff cutbacks, professors in the School of Education said many students, though interested in teaching, opt against enrolling in the school.
And that isn’t necessarily a bad idea, they said.
On Monday, University Career Services offered a seminar for undergraduate students who are interested in pursuing a teaching career, but do not want to enroll in the UNC School of Education.
“I have a really strong interest in teaching,” said Kara Pearce, a senior history and journalism major who was one of about 10 students in attendance. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but I want to keep my options open.”
It is for this reason that the school is designing a minor in education that will be available in fall 2011, said associate education professor Cheryl Bolick.
“Teaching is a complex career, and is very multifaceted,” Bolick said in an interview. “Students who choose to pursue an education degree from the School of Education will earn a richer and deeper enrichment in regards to teaching.”
Students with bachelor’s degrees who didn’t major in education are fully capable of obtaining a teaching position in a public school before being officially licensed, said Assistant Director of University Career Services Sharon Jones.
Jones said this opportunity is most likely to be available in areas with shortages, such as math, science, bilingual education and foreign languages.
She also touted programs such as Uncommon Schools, which works to close the achievement gap, and charter and magnet schools, which she said offer more independence and flexibility than traditional public schools.
Jones added that students can get a Master of Arts in Teaching on top of their bachelor’s degrees in one to two years through UNC or programs such as The New Teacher Project.
“A lot of students are often discouraged from teaching, although it may be their passion,” Jones said after the meeting. “These programs give students a way to test their interest in teaching.”
But Jones also said that a four-year education curriculum gives students a more valuable experience.
It will let students gain familiarity with the profession, said Deborah Eaker-Rich, assistant dean in the School of Education.
“It gives students more preparation for a teaching job by allowing them to get more education,” she said. “Students will have more of a leg-up when it comes to searching for jobs. It’s just a win-win situation in general.”
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