Foundations and Assessment of Education/Edition 1/Foundations Table of Contents/Chapter 1/1.5.2

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A Teacher Checklist[edit]

Learning Objectives[edit]

The reader will be able to:

  • describe common characteristics that teachers should possess
  • understand and describe what tests are necessary for licensure
  • describe an alternative for going back to school


The teaching profession is not for everybody. How do you know? Characteristics and expectations can be found in any career, but education is the foundation for every child’s life. Once you know that teaching is for you, one of the hardest parts is dedicating yourself to an accredited institution for at least four years. It may be hard, but the end result should be worth it. Becoming a teacher requires at least a bachelor’s degree in an education related field and especially now, a master’s degree is often preferred upon receiving a license to teach. While completing the bachelor’s a number of tests are necessary. Also, the state of Virginia offers an alternative for people deciding later on in life that teaching is the place to be.


As our society increases so does the demand for new teachers. As described by veteran teachers, “teaching is difficult, wonderful, exhausting, fun, stressful, enlightening-and rewarding beyond compare” (AFT). If this sounds like too much then considering another career option might be wise.

Not only is the demand for new teachers high so is the demand of your time. A teacher needs to have certain characteristics that will aid them in the classroom. The saying Patience is a virtue can be understood when dealing with any age child. Not every child or adult you teach is at the same pace as others requiring more energy from you. If a teacher is not patient how can they expect a child to exhibit the same behavior? It is the responsibility of the teacher to have obedience in the class therefore some form of leadership needs to accompany the teaching style. Children will respond better if a teacher shows passion for the material and for them. Candidates need to have a passion for wanting to guide others in their educational endeavors as well as learning from them.

Having a sense of humor can go a long way when dealing directly with children. According to McDermott and Rothenberg students enjoy teachers with a sense of humor and found those teachers made learning fun (McDermott 2000). It is hard to pay attention in class when the teacher drones on in a monotone voice and can not take a joke or laugh at a mistake. A good teacher can laugh with the class from time to time and even show that by laughing at a mortifying situation, a new way to handle a problem has occurred. Being prepared and having a positive attitude positively affects the students. These and many more are great characteristics for a teacher to display because students are able to take them seriously and in a positive manner.

The toughest job you’ll ever love.

(Peace Corps)

First Things First[edit]

After deciding that you want to teach, the first thing to do is find an institution that has an approved teacher preparation program. There are 38 colleges and universities that offer a variety of education curriculums in Virginia (Teacher Education). Education World’s website is a wonderful resource to use in order to find a state University or College where you live. Once the institution is chosen the next choice is the degree you would like to pursue. At Old Dominion University there are many degrees in which you can major in, such as:

  • Interdisciplinary Studies Teacher Preparation Pk-3, Special Education k-12, or Pk-6
  • K-12 Subject areas (Art, Music, Health and Physical Education)
  • Secondary Education

For Old Dominion and other universities there are admission requirements and application procedures that take place. By maintaining a grade point average of at least 2.75 and a passing Praxis I score of 532 a student is admitted into the particular academic department they choose (Darden College 2008). At ODU the College of Education has degree programs at the undergraduate level that lead to a fifth year masters. Student teaching is also a step to completing the bachelors. Not all education majors or minors, depending on the curriculum, are required to do a 30 hour observation either.

Next Things Next[edit]

In order to finish with at least a bachelor's, you have to take specific tests that count towards your licensure. The Educational Testing Service website is a great resource for future teachers. It gives descriptions of the Praxis 1 and 2(subject test) and is the site you register to take those two tests. The VCLA and VRA registration website is a good resource for the other initial licensure tests.

  • Praxis 1- As stated by the Educational Testing Service, "The Praxis I Pre-Professional Skills Tests (PPST®) measure basic skills in reading, writing and mathematics and include multiple-choice questions and an essay question on the Writing test. The tests are designed to evaluate whether you have the academic skills needed to prepare for a career in education" (ETS 2008).
  • Praxis 2- "Praxis II Subject Assessments measure knowledge of specific subjects that K–12 educators will teach, as well as general and subject-specific teaching skills and knowledge" as stated by the Educational Testing Service (ETS 2008)
  • Virginia Communication and Literacy assessment- Unless someone is exempt from this assessment it is required for initial licensure. A composite score of 470 is considered passing. According to the registration website, "the VCLA measures the communication and literacy skills necessary to teach and communicate effectively with parents and others in the education community. The VCLA consists of two subtests—a reading subtest and a writing subtest" (VCLA n.d).
  • Virginia Reading Assessment- According to the VCLA and VRA registration website "the content of the VRA is organized into objectives, which are aligned with the SOL and reading competencies contained in the Regulations Governing the Review and Approval of Education Programs in Virginia and the Virginia Licensure Regulations for School Personnel and consistent with the recommendations of the Committee to Enhance the K–12 Teaching Experience in Virginia, the Advisory Board on Teacher Education and Licensure (ABTEL), and the Panel for Reviewing Reading Assessment for Initial Licensure" (VCLA n.d)

An Alternative[edit]

What happens when you decide that the career you are in is not what you want to be doing? If you are certain that teaching is for you and have already been to school for something else, it is never too late to switch paths to become an educator. The Virginia Department of Education offers a career switcher program that allows people outside the teaching profession the opportunity to develop into a qualified educator. That individual has to have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school along with at least five years of work experience, and passing teacher examination scores, for example the Praxis II and Virginia Communication and Literacy Assessment (Virginia Career). The career switcher program is offered by four Universities including Old Dominion University. It is a great program to get into if continuing an education. "In just two years the Career Switcher Program has graduated more than 1000 highly qualified and motivated teachers for Virginia classrooms. Students are benefiting from the knowledge and life experience these teachers bring to the classroom." commented Jo Lynne DeMary Superintendent of Public Instruction (Career 2007).


The teaching profession can be a rewarding and extremely challenging field to enter. There are multiple characteristics that all teachers should possess in order to engage and enhance a childs learning. Requirements for acceptance into an education program include passing the Praxis I and maintaining a GPA. Not only are the classes rigorous, so are the tests required for initial licensure. The steps to licensure involve a lot of work, but in the end when you have a bachelor's or a master's degree and are doing something you love the sacrifice and commitment should be well worth the time and money.

Multiple Choice Questions[edit]

1. Which of the following would not be an Old Dominion University Interdisciplinary Studies Teacher Preparation major?

a. K-12 Subject Areas

b. Pk-6

c. Pk-3

d. Special Education K-12

2. What is NOT a good characteristic that a teacher should acquire?

a. Humor

b. Impatience

c. Patience

d. Positive Attitude

3. What test needs to have a passing score of 532 before a student can be admitted into the Old Dominion Teacher Education program?

a. Praxis I

b. Praxis II

c. Virginia Communication and Literacy Assessment (VCLA)

d. Virginia Reading Assessment (VRA)

4. If Carrie Lynn wanted to go back to school to teach and already has a degree in another field, what should she do?

a. Apply at Old Dominion University and if excepted begin taking classes that will lead to a Bachelor's.

b. She cannot change her career now, it is too late.

c. She could do the Career Switcher Program because she already has a degree.

d. She should contact the college or university where she obtained her degree and tell them she wants to be a teacher.

Answers: 1. a 2. b 3. a 4. c


AFT - Tools for Teachers - Becoming a Teacher. (n.d.). Retrieved February 8, 2009, from

Career Switcher Program and Programs for Continued Learning. (2007). Retrieved February 8, 2009, from

Darden College of Education: Teacher Education Services. (2008). Undergraduate Teacher Education Programs. Retrieved February 6, 2009, from

Educational Testing Services. (2008). Tests Directory: Praxis. Retrieved February 7, 2009, from

Teacher Education Program Contact Persons. (n.d.). Retrieved February 8, 2009, from

Virginia Career Switcher Alternative Route to Licensure Program. (n.d.). Retrieved February 4, 2009, from

Virginia Communication and Literacy Assessment (VCLA) and Virginia Reading Assessment (VRA) Home Page. (n.d.). Retrieved February 15, 2009, from