What Classes to Take in College to Become a Teacher

Smiling teacher helping students with homework
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You enjoy working with children and are passionate about helping them to learn and develop. Before you can begin a career in the teaching profession, you need to go to school yourself and get at least a bachelor's degree. Although college curriculum requirements may vary slightly, classes in areas such as child development and instructional planning are universal.

1 Child Development

Understanding the child's development across all of the domains -- social, emotional, cognitive and physical -- is essential for teachers at any K-12 level. Assessing students' abilities, planning developmentally appropriate lessons and interacting with students on their level are all parts of the teacher's job, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. College-level courses on child development include the theoretical approaches to student growth and changes that any teacher needs to know before working in the classroom. This may also include child psychology or a similarly named course.

2 Core Content Classes

Whether you're planning to teach at the primary or secondary level, you'll need some content-specific knowledge. Elementary teaching programs often require students to take an array of courses that cover the subjects they will teach. This is likely to include the main subjects that grade school teachers instruct, such as literacy, mathematics, science and social studies. Special subject teachers -- such as physical education or art educators -- as well as secondary teachers will take a concentration of subject-specific courses.

3 Planning, Instruction and Assessment

The act of teaching takes training. Bachelor's degree programs in education all require students to complete coursework in instructional practices. This includes content in lesson planning, teaching in small groups, teaching in large groups, working with individuals, assessment and managing classroom behaviors. For example, the California University of Pennsylvania's pre-K to grade 4 education curriculum includes a course called "Instruction and Assessment in Pre-K." The classes that each degree program requires will match the focus of the course of study. If you're getting an elementary education degree, you will take classes on instructing younger children, while someone taking a secondary curriculum will takes courses on teaching adolescents.

4 Student Teaching

Becoming a licensed teacher, in most states, requires pre-service educators to complete student teaching experiences. A student teaching class, practicum or internship provides the soon-to-be teacher with the opportunity to try out the skills that she is learning in a real-world environment. This type of class is completed in a primary or secondary school -- depending on the student's focus area -- under the supervision of a mentor teacher. It may also include a college classroom component or regular check-ins with your academic adviser.

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.