What’s the best way to choose a teaching subject/specialty?

Teachers in middle school, high school and post secondary institutions generally focus in one or two subjects. Some teachers may deliver the same lesson to several classes of students each day, while others have the freedom to alter their lessons according to class level, especially if they have gifted students or students with special needs. College instructors usually teach several different classes within a subject area like history or religion, but focus each course on a different, more detailed subject like the Renaissance or the American Revolution. If you know that you want to be a teacher but are having trouble narrowing down a subject, consider the following options and tips.

Really think about why you want to become a teacher in the first place. If there is a particular subject or topic that has inspired you to want to share it with others, then maybe that subject is the one you will feel happiest teaching. You should also consider choosing a subject that you feel passionate about and want to continue learning about anyway, even if you weren’t leading a classroom. If you’re genuinely interested in the subject and will constantly research the area for new developments and trends, then your students will benefit from your natural interest, and you won’t tire of teaching the same subject year after year.

Narrow down an age group and talk to other teachers in those schools. Do you love working with little kids and introducing new topics to them? Or would you rather work with students who already have a general knowledge of your subject area and can contribute their own thoughts and past experiences to the discussion? If you plan on doing a lot of extra research in your field and want to design lesson plans for a variety of topics, you might want to become a university instructor so that you aren’t limited to teaching one type of class every year. By narrowing down an age group you want to teach, you’ll have a better understanding of whether or not you want to specialize in a certain subject or teach many different subjects at an introductory level to younger students. Volunteer in a classroom to get a better idea of the behavioral and academic qualities of the different age groups before you make a decision.

Consider what subjects you are naturally good at. If you almost failed math year after year when you were in school, you will probably want to consider teaching a different subject. Every teacher should make an effort to learn about new topics in his or her field, and while it’s important to choose a subject you’re passionate about, you do need to make sure that you don’t have to spend a lot of time learning the material yourself before trying to teach it to someone else.

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