Planning the Perfect Teaching Portfolio

The requirement for content knowledge versus education methods is a current debate in teacher education. Many argue that with a sufficient knowledge base, anyone can teach. Others argue that someone with sufficient teaching skills can teach almost anything. When becoming a teacher, it’s important to craft your own philosophy on education. Do some critical thinking! Try tackling the following three sets of questions as a way to jumpstart figuring out your take on teaching.

1. Compare the course requirements for elementary certification and secondary certification at your institution or college. How are they similar? How are they different? What benefits or problems do you see where the differences between these programs are concerned?

2. Use the Internet to find the most up-to-date information about the debate over pedagogy versus content. Search terms such as “teaching credentials” or “alternative teacher certification.” This will help you get started. Based on information you found, do you or do you not support the position that anyone with adequate knowledge can be a teacher or anyone with enough skills in teaching can teach anyone or anything? Your opinion may be somewhere in the middle. Take some time to explain your decision on the issue.

3. Map out a plan. What other field placements, courses, or experiences do you think should be required to become a qualified teacher? What level of teaching interests you (high school, middle school, or elementary school)? Do you have a content area that you are interested in (like history or math)? Are there any additional specializations that you could obtain to broaden your interests and opportunities? Have you discussed these various options with your advisor? If you haven’t, draft an academic plan, and then determine everything you need and want to accomplish in order to be licensed as a teacher in your area or state.

Education is a complex field full of complex questions and answers. In order to be a good teacher, you’ll need to take the time to think about not just what you’re doing, but also why and how. Figure out the issues, take some time to look at all the sides, and apply your critical thinking skills in figuring out your own perspective. Be active in your own education! You’ll be doing yourself – and your students – a big favor.

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