How Do I Become a High School English Teacher?

Research what it takes to become a high school English teacher. Learn about degree program coursework, job duties and licensure requirements to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Literacy degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a High School English Teacher?

High school English teachers are education professionals who instruct students in grades nine through twelve in the subject of English. They prepare lesson plans to cover the approved curriculum and teach classes. They also assess how well students understand the material taught, and to do this, they may use assignments, tests and homework. As part of their duties, they may address behavioral issues. High school teachers are often involved in extracurricular activities with students, and they may oversee a book club or another club outside of regular school hours. They may also meet with parents to review their child's progress or address disciplinary issues if there have been problems in class.

Education Required A bachelor's degree and teacher education program
Education Field of Study English and secondary education
Key Responsibilities Prepare lesson plans, provide instruction, administer tests
Licensure State licensure is required for public school teachers
Job Growth (2014-2024) 6% (for all high school teachers)*
Median Salary (2015) $57,200 (for all high school teachers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Education Do I Need to Become a High School English Teacher?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most state departments of education require prospective English teachers to complete a bachelor's degree in English and a teacher education program (www.bls.gov). English bachelor's degree coursework may cover literacy studies, Shakespeare, British drama, short fiction and the American novel.

Teacher education programs include coursework in child development, educational technology and classroom management. You'll also learn instructional methods for teaching literature and composition. During the final semesters of this program you'll be required to partake in student teaching or field experiences, where you will experience firsthand what it's like to teach high school students.

What Tasks Will I Perform?

The National Council of Teachers of English states that English teachers should show students how to express themselves through writing or discover their cultural identities through literature (www.ncte.org). Preparing lesson plans and outlines, instructing students, administering tests and counseling students when academic problems arise are just some of the responsibilities you may have, according to job postings on Monster.com. You may also be asked to work with a school's yearbook club or student newspaper staff.

What About Licensure?

According to the BLS, every state requires public high school teachers to be licensed. Licensure requirements usually include the completion of a bachelor's degree program, teacher education program and student teaching internship. You may also be required to submit passing scores on subject area or teaching skills examinations such as the Praxis.

You will probably also need to complete continuing education requirements to maintain your teaching license. In some states this involves earning credits towards a master's degree in teaching or English education. Coursework for these programs may include courses on individualized writing instruction, educational linguistics and English curriculum.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

The work that high school English teachers do is very similar to the work of middle school English teachers and career and technical education teachers. All of these education professionals need a bachelor's degree and teaching license. They all use curriculum guidelines, develop lesson plans and teach classes. They also all use tests and assignments and other methods of assessing student performance in their classes.

The key difference between a high school English teacher and a middle school English teacher is that middle school teachers work with students in grades six through eight and focus on preparing them to enter high school, while high school teachers are preparing students for college. Career and technical education teachers focus on instructing students in vocational courses, such as automotive repair, that may prepare them to enter a career field instead of going to college.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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