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In education, teachers facilitate student learning, often in a school or academy. The objective is typically a course of study, lesson plan, or a practical skill, including learning and thinking skills. The different ways to teach are often referred to as the teacher's pedagogy. When deciding what teaching method to use, a teacher will need to consider students' background knowledge, environment, and their learning goals as well as standardized curricula as determined by the relevant authority. The teacher should also be able to deal with students with different abilities and should also be able to deal with learning disabilities. Many times, teachers will have to do their job outside of the classroom by accompanying students on field trips. They also supervise study halls, help with the organization of school functions, and serve as supervisors for extracurricular activities.

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Related positions

  • Teachers are considered professionals on par with physicians, lawyers, and CPA's because they are often required to obtain specialized education and professional licensure although pay is considerably less. They act as facilitators or coaches, using interactive discussions and “hands-on” approaches to help students learn and apply concepts in subjects such as science, mathematics, or English. They utilize “props” or “manipulatives” to help children understand intangible concepts, solve problems, and develop critical thought processes. Preparing students for the future workforce is a major stimulus generating changes in education. To be prepared, students must be able to interact with others, adapt to new technology, and think through problems logically. Teachers provide the tools and the environment for their students to develop these skills.
  • A teacher who is positioned to help the student in a particular subject, is in some cultures called a "tutor". A tutor is someone who helps out the students along with the teacher.

A tutor may also work independently of a teacher.

  • A teacher, or trainer from whom a student learns a great deal may be called a "mentor". (this term is used, in this context, in the UK.)
  • An "educationalist" is an educational theorist, writer or researcher.
  • In traditional China, the model teacher, Confucius, is greatly revered. A Chinese term for teacher is shifu or sifu (teacher-father) or laoshi (old teacher).

Primary and secondary school teachers

Perhaps the most significant thing about education in the UK is the relationship between teachers and students. In primary schools, teachers instruct one class of students in certain subjects. In secondary schools, two or more teachers work as a team and are jointly responsible for a group of students in at least one subject, usually music, art, reading, science, arithmetic, or physical education—to a number of classes. A small but growing number of teachers instruct multi-level classrooms, with students at several different learning levels.

Qualification and registration

Teachers are usually educated in a university or college. Often they must be certified by a government body before they can teach in a school.

United States

In the United States, each state determines the requirements for getting a license to teach. Normally, a bachelor's degree with a major in a certifiable area (languages, arts, sciences, etc.) is a minimum requirement, along with rigorous pedagogical methods, course work and practical field experiences as "student teachers." It is also required by all states that teachers pass standardised exams at the national and/or state levels both in the subjects they teach and the methods of teaching those subjects, and that they undergo constant evaluation by local, state, and sometimes even private organizations during their first years of teaching. Most states use graduated licensing programs (i.e., initial, Stage II, Rank I, professional, provisional, etc.). A license to teach in one state will usually facilitate the obtainment of a license in another state.

Until the 1960s, a person could not teach unless he or she had completed a year or more of specific teaching training at a normal school. In the past two decades, normal school courses have been made optional through the promotion of Alternate Route teacher certification. New Jersey was the first state to establish an Alternate Route program, doing so in 1984. Since then, most states have established their own programs.

Teachers in almost all states must have a Bachelor's degree with the appropriate teacher preparation course and complete a Master's degree within five years. Additionally, to be permanently certified, teachers must pass three state exams on pedagogy, general knowledge and knowledge of a content area. In order to work in a public school a candidate must be fingerprinted.

The annual rankings of U.S. News and World Report placed the following schools of education in the top ten of all graduate colleges of education in the United States. They follow in order of one through ten: Teachers College at Columbia University; Stanford University; Harvard University; Vanderbilt University; University of California at Los Angeles; University of Michigan at Ann Arbor; Northwestern University; University of California at Berkeley; University of Washington, and; University of Wisconsin at Madison.(2008) "America's Best Education Graduate Schools 2008", US News and World Report.

Teach for America and the Mississippi Teacher Corps are two highly competitive, alternate-route teaching programs, for college graduates who are not education majors.''

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there are 1.4 million elementary school teachers[1], 600,000 middle school teachers[2], and 1 million secondary school teachers employed in the U.S.[3]


Canadian teachers must receive certification from a provincial College of Teachers or the provincial department responsible for teacher certification in order to be able to teach in elementary and secondary schools. In Manitoba, for example, the responsibility for teacher certification lies with the Department of Education, Citizenship, and Youth - Professional Certification and Records Branch. Teachers need a Bachelor's degree in Education (B.Ed.), often on top of another recognized Bachelor's degree. This adds one or two more years to a university education. To earn a degree in secondary education, teachers must have a certain number of university credits in their subject field. This number varies from province to province, and in some provinces it varies from school to school. Most employers of teachers require that successful applicants complete criminal record checks, as well as verification that an employee is not listed in the Child Abuse Registry. These same requirements are, in addition to being a sound part of the hiring practice, a requirement of most provincial education legislation. Other requirements such as a tuberculosis test, and level of experience criteria may also be required.

The process for certification is somewhat intricate in all provinces, but there is no process for obtaining "inter-provincial" certification. Any teacher must obtain certification from the specific province they wish to teach in. In extreme circumstances, such as a lack of any suitable certifiable candidates for a specific teaching position, an employer may apply for temporary certification of a non-certified person. This temporary certification is usually valid for one calendar year after ministry approval, but must be requested by the school, not by a non-certified applicant for a teaching position.

England and Wales

In England and Wales teachers in the maintained sector must have gained Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). There are many paths in which a person can work towards gaining their QTS, the most popular of which is to have completed a first degree (such as a BA or BSc) and then a Post-Graduate Certificate of Education (PGCE). Other methods include a specific teaching degree (BEd) or on-the-job training at a school. All qualified teachers in England must serve, after training, a statutory one year induction period that must be passed in order to remain a registered teacher. In Wales this period lasts for two years. During this period a teacher is known as an NQT (Newly Qualified Teacher). Schools are obliged to provide guidance, support and training to facilitate the NQT's success during this year. Local education authorities are also obliged to provide professional development opportunities.

Teachers in independent schools are not statutorily required to hold QTS, although independent schools increasingly prefer teachers to hold this qualification unless they have already gained significant teaching experience. The post-experience PGCE at the University of Buckingham is designed for independent school teachers. Some specialist independent schools, such as those following Montessori principles, require teachers trained in that specific educational philosophy.

The Teach First scheme, aimed at recent graduates, was introduced in 2003 in London and more recently in Manchester and it allows trainees to teach in schools without the Post-Graduate Certificate of Education (PGCE). After an intense period of training in the summer following graduation, trainees are placed in secondary schools. Following the successful completion of the first year, trainee teachers gain QTS status and may then continue teaching for a minimum of one year.


In France the teachers (professeurs) are mainly civil servants, recruted by competitive examination. The primary education teachers (professeurs des écoles) study at IUFM (University Institute for Formation of Teachers). The high school teachers must hold the CAPES (certificate for teaching in secundary education) or the agrégation. They are called professeur certifié or professeur agrégé, depending on the exam they pass. The postulants to these formations must have completed undergraduate studies (for IUFM and CAPES) or graduate studies (often a MA for the agrégation). Even the teachers in private schools must pass an exam (the CAPEPS - certificate for teaching in private secundary education) and are civil servants. However, any holder of a licentiate (bachelor's degree equivalent) can teach on a non-permanent basis.


In Australia teaching is mostly a public servant occupation with education currently funded and controlled by the various Australian states and territories. However a large portion of primary and secondary education is undertaken in the private sector (the largest being the catholic system). Applicants for teachers registration are required to hold at least a bachelors degree in education from a certified tertiary institution such as a university). Practical experience is undertaken during this tertiary study and then the transition is completed with a short internship. Teachers are ordinarily held on a one to three year probationary period for registration once they begin teaching (depending on the state).

Teaching as a profession

Teachers are considered professionals on par with physicians, lawyers, and CPA's because they are often required to obtain specialized education and professional licensure.

In most cultures, teaching is referred to as a profession. Arguments for this include the respect that is felt for teachers in some cultures, the existence of a body of specialised professional knowledge, and codes of ethics. In Canada some provinces such as Ontario and British Columbia operate a 'College of Teachers' established by legislation to serve and protect the public interest through certifying, governing and enforcing the standards of practice for the teaching profession.

The College's functions include setting out clear standards of practice, providing for the ongoing education of teachers, investigating complaints involving members, conducting hearings into allegations of professional misconduct and taking appropriate disciplinary action and accrediting teacher education programs.

Teachers in publicly funded schools in these provinces must be members in good standing with the College. Many private schools also require their teachers to be College members.

World Teachers’ Day

UNESCO inaugurated World Teachers’ Day on 5 October 1994 to celebrate and commemorate the signing of the Recommendation Concerning the Status of Teachers on 5 October 1966. World Teachers’ Day also highlighted the Recommendation Concerning the Status of Higher Education Teaching Personnel adopted in 1997. Some countries or regions such as Taiwan also celebrate Teacher's Day as a national holiday. In Brazil and Chile, it is celebrated on October 15, while in India it is celebrated on the 5th of September. In Brunei, it is celebrated on September 23. In Turkey it has been celebrated on 24th November since 1928. Northern Cyprus also celebrates this day. In Malaysia and in Colombia, it is celebrated on 16 May. Teachers' Day is a school holiday for students in primary and secondary schools and junior colleges/centralised institutes in Singapore celebrated on 1 September. Malaysia celebrates Teachers' Day on the 16th of May every year. This celebration is celebrated with joy and passion.


Teachers' salaries vary from country to country: US teachers are paid on a graduated scale, starting at the low end and moving up on the pay scale with experience. The national average teacher’s salary for 2000-2001 was $43,335, according to the National Education Association. The lowest average salary was in South Dakota at $30,265 and the highest average salary was in New Jersey at $53,281. Wisconsin ranked 19th. Teacher benefits vary by contract but most include the following: health insurance, sick leave and dental coverage. Some contracts may include long-term disability insurance, life insurance, emergency/personal leave and investment options.[4] The American Federation of Teachers' teacher salary survey for the 2004-05 school year found that the average teacher salary was $47,602.[5]

Salaries in England and Wales are largely dependent upon time in post (seniority) and any management responsibilities. From 2007, teachers outside the London area (which are paid higher due to higher living costs) can expect to start on around £21,000 GBP (approx. $41,500 USD/€31,000 EUR) and rising by around £1,100 GBP (approx. $2,150 USD/€1,600 EUR) per year.[6] Teachers of 'shortage' subjects, such as math and physics, can expect a 'golden hello' taking them to around £26,000 GBP (approx. $51,200 USD/€38,300 EUR) starting salary.[7]

Unpromoted posts in Scotland attract a salary paid on an annually incremented scale which rises over 6 points from £19,878 GBP (approx. $39,000 USD/€29,300 EUR) to £31,707 GBP (approx. $62,200 USD/€46,707 EUR) [1].

Religious Teacher

In Hinduism, a spiritual teacher is known as a guru. Traditionally, a spiritual seeker would revere his or her guru highly, and demonstrate utmost submission and humility through menial service in order to prove worthy to be a recipient of esoteric knowledge from the guru.

In the Latter Day Saint movement, teacher is an office in the Aaronic priesthood.

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