Industry Spotlight: Careers in Education

Are you a CLAS student who’s interested in a career in education? Check out this blog post for some great resources on entering the field of education!

In this post:

Alumni Insights

Gil Gallant
Political Science ’87
Teacher, East Lyme Public Schools or
(If your reach out to Gil, make sure to include how you found him in your note)

Why did you decide to pursue a career in education?
The greatest motivator in my mind to become a teacher was the desire to be a better teacher than any teacher I had ever had. I had a lovely time at UCONN but my elementary education left a lot to be desired and I always thought I could do a better job of motivating students, having fun and channeling students’ interests. Teaching in elementary school requires me to be a well-rounded individual with lots of interests and background knowledge. The job itself is always changing and the children are always fascinating from year to year.

What is your favorite part about your job?
My favorite part of teaching, in general, has to be that light bulb moment when you can see that a student actually understands what you are trying to teach. Some students struggle with concepts or ideas and there is nothing better than the second you see their eyes light up or when their body language shows excitement and they begin to make connections between what they already know and what you are teaching.

What is a typical day in your job like?
A typical day in an elementary classroom always begins at least an hour before the children arrive in school. I prepare the day’s activities, SMART board templates or materials. The children arrive and we have a morning meeting with a game/song and a greeting then we begin language arts instruction. We work a good hour and a half rotating stations and exposing children to various activities using multiple intelligences where they might be reading, writing, drawing, singing, acting, making with art materials various responses to language arts activities. The afternoon is usually hands on science and math activities and drawn or written responses to instruction. It’s a job where the teacher is always on their feet moving around answering questions, providing feedback and solving problems. We never sit down anymore, at least not until lunch time!

What are the current trends affecting your industry?
Education has lots of testing of children, assessments of skills and accountability in the profession. Teachers need to keep in mind we are dealing with humans who sometimes have good days and sometimes bad ones. We need to continue to make learning fun and relevant to children.

What advice do you have for current students looking to enter this field?
I hear a lot of talk about people recommending you never get into the profession. I would never say that to anyone, but it is not a job to enter lightly, it truly is a vocation. You must love learning, children, and have a strong sense of what you believe to be successful. The job doesn’t pay well, has long hours and many frustrations, but if you love sharing your knowledge, guiding children and having a life-long effect then teaching is for you!

Any additional advice you would share with current UConn students?
My advice to any student at a college is take advantage of the electives and any courses you can take outside your major. You never know when the knowledge or interest you follow might come in your future endeavors. I didn’t major in education as an undergraduate, in fact had no idea I was going to become a teacher until almost 10 years after I graduated college but my wide range of classes and experiences really helped me become certified and follow my dreams!

Relevant Articles

U.S. News & World Report – Michael Morella – March 20, 2014 Think Outside the Box with These Hot Education Careers: Positions experiencing growth include jobs in transition services and STEM education.

Industry Job Boards

Professional Associations
National Association of Special Education Teachers
National Education Association
The U.S. Department of Education – Organizations Directory

The UConn Center for Career Development does our best to share up to date, relevant resources; however the Center for Career Development does not specifically endorse any of these sites. Before joining an organization, investing in classes, or utilizing a placement agency be sure to check its credentials through additional sources.

By Emily Merritt
Emily Merritt Career Consultant, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Emily Merritt