If You Love History, Social Studies is for You
If you enjoy reading articles on politics and current affairs, actively taking part in community events, and sharing your keen interest in the social sciences with others, you might consider a career as a social studies teacher.
A democracy such as the U.S. relies heavily on the civic competence of its citizens to function properly. Citizens of a democracy have the right―and the responsibility―to apply critical thinking to social and cultural structures and government workings, and understand how these institutions affect their day-to-day lives. This is where your role as a social studies teacher comes into play.
At middle school and high school levels, a social studies education is often integrated using multiple disciplines, such as history, sociology, political science and geography. Some high schools also offer curriculum or advanced classes in economics, business, anthropology, psychology and philosophy.
The primary goal of a social studies teacher is to explain the development and progression of social events and theories and to explain the institutions and processes that define our country and the world. As a result, the subject matter is broad and the curriculum diverse. Some typical duties may include the following:
- Understanding and teaching each course curriculum
- Preparing and delivering cohesive lectures
- Actively engaging students in group discussions
- Developing and correcting reading and writing assignments
- Creating fun and stimulating class projects that explore social issues
- Coordinating with other teachers involved in your integrated studies program
What Will My Constituency Look Like?
As a full-time secondary-school social studies teacher, you'll probably teach a number of classes a day to different groups of students. Curriculum will vary by class, but you'll frequently have the opportunity to use secondary sources and interactive media.
You might work in one of the following settings:
- elementary schools
- secondary schools, such as middle and high schools
- public or private schools
- 2-year colleges or 4-year universities
- community centers
Education and Training
To become a social studies teacher, you'll need a minimum of a bachelor's degree in education from an accredited teaching program, along with a major in social studies. If you already have a bachelor's in a social studies discipline, such as history or sociology, you may be able to complete a fifth-year course in education while also fulfilling any additional core study requirements.
Another option is to pursue a master's degree in education, which some states require all teachers to earn within a specific time period.
Teacher Certification for Social Studies Teachers
Although teacher certification requirements vary by state, all public school teachers must be certified. Certification usually entails proof of degree, a specific number of subject and education credits, hands-on teaching experience and a competency test. Some states also require a minimum GPA. Additionally, your state may require you to take continuing education courses to maintain your teaching license. Certification may not be necessary if you choose to teach at a private school.