K - 12 Education

There are a lot of options for students interested in teaching at the K-12 level, from focusing on a specific subject area to working at a school with a distinct mission. For students at Williams interested in exploring teaching, there are a number of ways to get involved, which you can find on the Williams K-12 Teaching Resource. You’ll learn about engagement with local schools through the Center for Learning in Action and the academics of the Program in Teaching.

Interested in asking alumni teachers about their experiences or seeing where they work? Join the Education Group on EphLink!

Learn more about careers and topics in k-12 education:

Recruiting timeline: From fall for some fellowship and residency programs through spring for independent schools and some charter schools. Public schools hire year-round, with the early summer being the most common hiring date.

Sample jobs for recent grads: Teaching Assistant; Teaching Fellow; Classroom Assistant; 9-10th Grade English Teacher; 4th Grade Teacher; Reading Specialist; Coach; Admissions Specialist; School Counselor

Types of Schools

Public Schools

Funded and governed by local, state, and federal governments. A teaching certification of the relevant state is typically required. You can read more about residency and graduate programs that provide teacher certification in the post-graduation resource, and this resource explains requirements by state.

Most states have different levels of certification. For example, Massachusetts has an initial license that requires a bachelor’s degree, passing the state exam & subject matter tests, and completion of an approved educator preparation program (for Williams alumni, this would be a master’s, residency, or alternative certification program). Initial Certification requires a certain number of supervised classroom hours at the grade level or subject area as well as the state exam. The MA Department of Education provides a licensure tool that is helpful in determining the license you’ll need.

The National Education Association tracks average teacher starting salaries by state.

Williams alumni interested in teaching in public schools often go on to graduate programs or teacher residency programs that provide teaching certification. Ideally, a student would earn certification through a program in the state in which they intend to teach.

There are alternative certification programs that do not require a master’s degree and are aimed at students who already have a bachelor’s degree. Research these programs by state and be sure to look closely at fees, placement of teachers in positions after completion, hours in the classroom, and curriculum.

Charter Schools

Charter Schools are public schools and are governed by basic educational standards, but they typically have more freedom in how they achieve learning outcomes and meet requirements. Charter Schools are typically founded and funded by a foundation or organization. Charter Schools often operate with a “start-up” mentality when they are young and they can be created to serve distinct populations of students. Regulations and requirements for charter schools vary by state and some requires master’s degrees and/or state licensure while others do not. Talking to current teachers at charter school you are exploring is the best way to learn more about the teacher experience, since it varies widely.

Examples of charter schools:

  • Brooke Charter Schools (Boston)
  • Ascend Public Charter Schools (NY)
  • DC Prep (DC)
  • Uplift Education (TX)
  • Uncommon Schools (Northeast)
  • Kipp Schools
  • Basis Schools
  • Aspire Schools (CA)

Independent/Private Schools

Private schools are funded by tuition and private donations and aside from meeting basic requirements, they operate independently from government. They can take the form of boarding schools or day schools and are traditionally smaller in size and do not require a state teaching certification. Teachers often also hold other duties including dorm parent and athletic coach. A number of Williams graduates each year go on to teach at independent schools. You can learn more about private schools at NAIS.

Roles at K-12 Schools

Teacher

Typically broken down by elementary versus secondary education, and within secondary, subject matter specialities (e.g, math, science, English, history) or student focus (English Language Learners, Special Education).  Teachers are responsible for classroom instruction and additional duties to ensure the wellbeing of the students.  Specialists such as reading specialists may work in the classroom or work one-on-one with individual students or small groups.

School Counselor

School counselors support the success and wellbeing of students outside of the classroom, including health and wellbeing, mental health, academic success, and career and college counseling. You can learn more about this role at the American School Counseling Association. Similar to teaching, becoming a school counselor requires a master’s degree in school counseling or education with a speciality in counseling.

Administrator

This includes principals and vice principals, admissions, athletics, and more. To rise to the principal and vice principal level, a number of years of teaching is typically required prior to moving to administration.