Introduction to Secondary Education Online Degrees
In the digital age, those who wish to become high school teachers may do so through an online program in secondary education. Online programs provide candidates with the opportunity to earn the same classroom experience and information they would receive on campus in the comfort of their own homes. This enables aspiring instructors to easily balance work and life obligations while working toward earning their degrees. Graduates from online degree programs in secondary education are typically eligible for teacher certification, provided that they pass all required tests associated with the specific grade level and subject area in which they wish to instruct. While many go on to become certified educators, there are many additional career paths individuals can take upon graduating from an online program.
Admittance to Online Secondary Education Program
Candidates may enter an online undergraduate program after earning a high school diploma or GED equivalent. Aspiring teachers are typically held to a higher standard than other incoming participants, with many programs requiring candidates to hold a GPA of at least 2.5 on a scale of 4.0. Typical of most college application processes, candidates must also provide a formal application, applicable fees, official transcripts, letters of recommendation from a prior instructor, and a college essay. Some programs may provide aspiring instructors with the option to take their state-specific basic skills test for teacher competency; however, most candidates will take these exams later in their academic career before graduation from the online program.
Common Secondary Education Course Descriptions
Depending on the specific grade level and subject area aspiring teachers wish to instruct, their coursework in secondary education may vary. However, all instructors are expected to possess a core understanding in various areas of pedagogy and child development, making the following coursework common across most online programs.
Child & Adolescent Psychology
Aspiring high school teachers will be expected to spend most of their time interacting with children and adolescents, requiring them to have a thorough understanding of psychological development within this age group. Candidates will learn about the psychology of adolescents and children as it pertains to cognitive, linguistic, social, emotional, and physical areas of development. In learning this material, aspiring instructors will gain the fundamental knowledge necessary for creating appropriate learning opportunities and environments for their future students.
Secondary Reading & Language Arts
As high school instructors prepare to teach their future students, they will need to understand the appropriate methods and interventions for high-school-level reading instruction. This coursework will provide educators with the skills and information necessary for successful reading and language arts instruction for students within this age group. They will also learn the appropriate benchmarks and quantitative methodologies employed to track students' progress as they further develop their skills.
Classroom Management in Secondary School Settings
High school educators must be skilled at effectively managing classrooms with older student populations. Coursework in classroom management in secondary school settings provides aspiring teachers with the training necessary to prepare them for the demands of full-time adolescent instruction. Teachers will learn how to structure classrooms and effectively manage a variety of classroom sizes, age groups, and demographics to better prepare for their future careers.
Diversity, Inclusion & Exceptional Learners
Coursework in diversity, inclusion, and exceptional learning challenges aspiring teachers to view learning through the lens of underserved or marginalized populations. Regardless of a teacher's position as a special education instructor or general population educator, they will be expected to interact with many student demographics and will need to understand the appropriate ways in which to instruct each of them. This coursework will also provide future teachers with a more worldly perspective of some of the unique challenges facing certain student populations and how best to approach these topics within a school setting.
Instructional Planning & Presentation
As teachers prepare to enter the classroom, they will need to have exceptional instructional planning and presentation skills. Coursework for secondary school instructors in this area covers all aspects of classroom instruction, including curriculum planning, educational benchmarks, assessment best practices, and presentation skills. All instructors must be able to illustrate competency in this area through supervised student teaching or pre-clinical experiences.
How to Choose an Online Secondary Education Program
Before selecting an online secondary education degree program, participants should ensure the institution offers coursework in the specific grade level and subject area they wish to teach. Additionally, participants should feel confident that the resources offered to them through their online coursework will be sufficient enough to grant them the opportunity for academic success. Most successful programs offer hands-on experiences through student teaching clinics; without a student teaching element, aspiring teachers may not be eligible to earn their certification. Teachers are required to have exceptional interpersonal and social skills. While candidates may pursue their degrees online, it's important that they have opportunities to interact with others in the program to further develop these skills and build a professional network.
Most online programs in secondary education are designed to help candidates become high school teachers. Job growth among high school educators is expected to grow 4% between 2018 and 2028, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Additionally, the average high school teacher in America earns $60,320 annually. While high school instruction is one possible route to employment beyond graduation, candidates can hope to pursue a number of career paths after obtaining their degrees, including: