When most people think of the American Dream, they imagine growing up, attending a college, earning a degree, finding a good job, marrying someone they love, and living out their lives.
But today, people often achieve this dream in many different ways, and the traditional view of enrolling in a university to earn a degree is changing. Many universities require enormous time commitments, often asking students to essentially put their lives on hold as they work toward their degrees.
But increasing amounts of people today are looking online to earn their degrees. Earning a degree online gives students more flexibility and opportunities for success.
And for potential teachers, earning a teaching degree online has never been more convenient and accessible than it is now.
Who earns a degree online?
A student might be interested in earning a degree online because it fits their lifestyle better.
Online universities tend to attract non-traditional students with full-time jobs, children, or other time-consuming responsibilities.
For example, a single mother who works might have trouble juggling a job, kids, and other responsibilities in addition to driving to and attending class full time. For this mother, earning an online degree might be the best option, allowing her to schedule class lessons around her other obligations.
Earning a degree online is attractive to these students because of how accommodating online universities are. To earn a degree at an online university, most students don't even need to reside in the same state as the university.
Online teaching degree students must be self-motivated and determined individuals, ready to immerse themselves in the methods, strategies, and theories of teaching.
Steps to earning a teaching degree online
While traditional universities require students to adjust their lives to the schedule of a university, an online teaching degree allows students to fit their education around their current lives. The first step to earning an online teaching degree is to examine the different teaching degree programs of online universities.
During the school admissions process, potential students speak with an adviser who will help them to identify their goals and objectives, and how earning a degree online might help them achieve those goals.
When first looking at online teaching degrees, students meet their personal mentor who will help guide them through the online education process. A personal mentor helps students to determine their focus, and helps to schedule classes.
During the beginning phases of earning an education degree, a student's personal mentor outlines and explains the curriculum for the degree. During this phase, a student learns the steps to earning his or her degree, how long it will take, and what learning online entails.
Typically, a student's personal mentor sets up a path to graduation, so that student doesn't need to wade through dozens of classes to find the important ones. For many students, this is one of the most attractive parts of online teaching degree programs, allowing them to skip the confusing process of sorting through classes to find the ones they need.
Online learning is a unique experience that still provides education students with the skills and necessary techniques to become effective teachers.
During class, students log into their online learning accounts and chat with other students in their class. Usually, there are multiple folders that students access containing assignments, instructions, discussions, and class submissions. This allows all the students to be on the same page as the instructor, who moderates the folders and discussions.
Typically, students log in and participate in class between four and five days per week, but students get to choose the dates and times they log on. This flexibility and ability to earn a quality education on their own terms is what attracts so many students to online degree programs.
Online teaching degree programs typically begin with classes such as foundations of education, which introduce students to the history, trends, and issues in education. They learn about the various teaching models and theories, and develop their own lesson plans – all in an online setting.
From here, potential teachers also begin to learn child development theories, focusing on defining the various stages of child development. With knowledge of child development, students earning degrees online learn effective management techniques by exploring motivation, how to deal with disruptive students, classroom expectations, and how development factors into this.
Typically, most online universities split their education degree options by subject, so students focus on topics like math teaching, language arts teaching, social studies teaching, and science teaching. Choosing a teaching path allows student teachers to focus on a particular branch of teaching, and their online classes become more focused as well.
After completing the online-only portions of earning a teaching degree, potential teachers also participate in student teaching, much like students who earn traditional education degrees. Student teaching is the only portion of earning a degree online that requires students to perform work in a non-online setting.
During student teaching, students are assigned to teach real classes and test their knowledge of teaching methods and classroom management. Over the course of a few months, potential teachers hone their skills and abilities teaching classes, while reporting their progress to online universities and staying in contact with their personal mentors.
At the end of student teaching, students are prepared to graduate from their universities and receive their degrees.
But students aren't completely ready to start teaching in the real world. Teachers who earn their degrees online must still pass the standards of teacher certification in the states they wish to teach in. Student advisors are there to help you through this process.
For more information on earning certification after receiving a degree, see the map of state teaching certification requirements.