Adding A Master’s Degree To Your Curriculum – A Pathway To Preparedness

By Vera Marie Reed

When you just so happen to be the member of a minority group, like the LGTBQ community, for example, you may seem to struggle more and you might feel like you have to work twice as hard to prove yourself to the rest of the world. This belief also rings true for taking that important extra step towards getting your Master’s Degree.

People of this particular group have come a long way in the past few decades, and similar to the women’s rights movement, they’re also becoming more successful in classrooms and Universities across the country and all around the world. Although there’s no real statistics available for enrollment and academic achievements for gays and lesbians nowadays, think about that previous comparison with women.

More Highly Educated Women On The Rise

Not that long ago it may seem to some of us older folk, women were being discouraged from attending college, and instead were pushed towards marriage and being a stay-at-home mom (barefoot and pregnant). But they’ve really made up the difference since and the “proof is in the pudding” according to some statistics from the National Center For Education.

As a matter of fact, when it comes to obtaining this valuable degree, women outnumber men when conferred with a Master’s diploma in every ethnic category, Black, White, Hispanic, Asian and Native Americans – in some cases by over 20% – You Go Girl! So when you’re looking at this valuable goal, keep in mind all of this important information.

Getting the Correct Degree From the Beginning

According to the FaceTheFacts, over 50% of teachers in public schools now hold Master’s degrees making it less of a bonus and more of a necessity. If you visit, you will learn about programs where you can earn your degree and something interesting – there is more than one type of Master’s.

In fact, there are at least three degrees: the Master’s of Education (M.Ed), The Master’s of Arts in Teaching (MAT), and the Master’s of Science in Teaching (MST). Note that the M.Ed is for people who see themselves teaching, but also perhaps leaving the class to do counseling, work on curriculum, or administration. If you see yourself being a teacher for the long haul, choose the Master’s of Arts In Teaching (English, History, and other disciplines) or the Master’s of Science in Teaching (Chemistry, Maths, Physics, etc.).

What the Typical Course May Look Like

Curriculum will vary by school, but you are going to have required courses that every student takes, plus required courses for your chosen field – English, History, Math, and so on. If you are very lucky, you may have some time for perhaps three to five electives within your field. You will learn your focus information from the perspective of how you should teach it to your students.

Note that it is understood that you already have a Bachelor’s degree with the proper number of courses in your field. If you do not have enough background information in the field of your choice, you will have to take extra coursework! Some students opt to take a Bachelor’s to Master’s programs. These exist. Look into them.

Consider getting your Master’s Degree online.  There are many programs that will allow you to get your degree with a minimal disruption in your life and routine.  Online degrees make it viable to earn your master’s while working or parenting your children.

Remember that a Master’s Degree Focuses on the Word MASTER

It isn’t easy, and the focus is on research, whether it is language acquisition or how the brain best retains knowledge. It is very likely you will have the opportunity to craft lessons using new media and Smart Boards and all the most up-to-date teacher softwares. You are treated as a teacher and are expected to present and “teach” regularly, often times with your classmates acting as the students. Beyond this however, is the thesis.While not as grueling as the dissertation required for a doctorate, the goal is a new idea, not explored before, that also stretches you professionally.

How Prepared Will You Be?

When you graduate, you will have the knowledge and the background. The Praxis exam is required in many states and should be a part of your teacher registration and licensure process. The question is: are you ready to teach? Veteran teachers, still young by anyone’s estimation, but with upwards of fifteen years under their desk blotters will tell you frankly, no, they weren’t prepared.

“I had no idea what I was doing,” says Dana Amberoy of Chesterwood Academy in New Jersey. “I thought I was ready. After all, I took a classroom management course,” she laughs. Another veteran teacher, Joseph Nicholls says, “It wasn’t the management – I had work up to my eyes and had no idea how to finish it.” When I asked if they had any advice, Dana said, “I’m still here, and you get better. There is no better teacher than the classroom. I think I’m teaching them? I learn something every day.” 

Getting Practice Before Your First Job

To get practice teaching before your first teaching job, visit ProLiteracy or Literacy Volunteers of America. Becoming a volunteer has numerous benefits. It helps youth and adults who want to earn their GED, learn to read, or gain other valuable skills. For you, a volunteer teaching position gives you the edge of experience that other newly graduated candidates simply don’t have. More importantly, it gives you the taste of real world teaching that school will never give you: thinking on your feet and problem-solving. You’ll earn real-life skills and strategies, and with it a higher degree of “classroom comfort” and confidence. When you get an interview and have to perform an important demonstration lesson, you’ll be glad for the practice hours you racked up!

Vera Marie Reed is freelance writer living in Glendale, California. This mother of two specializes in education and parenting content. When she’s not delivering expert advice, you can find her reading, writing, arts, going to museums and doing craft projects with her children.

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