Profiled: An Elementary School Teacher In Chicago

(credit: Thinkstock)

(credit: Thinkstock)

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Think education for teachers ends when they receive their license? Think again. Between attending workshops and graduate school programs, many teachers in the Chicagoland area continually improve their own teaching techniques and learn how to effectively implement lessons. But what’s required of teachers today?

To get an inside look at education requirements for teachers, we interviewed Kristin Solis who teaches first grade at Euclid Elementary School in Mount Prospect. Solis has been a teacher for seven years, and has a master’s degree in curriculum instruction. She also has an endorsement in teaching English as a second language.

Kristin Solis of Euclid Elementary School (credit: Megan Horst Hatch)

Kristin Solis of Euclid Elementary School (credit: Megan Horst Hatch)

According to Solis, staying current with trends in teaching is important. “Education is ever-changing, and being a teacher is always a learning experience. If you do not continue your own education as a teacher, you’ll miss out,” she explained.

Solis completed both her master’s degree and ESL certification online, as the online programs allowed her to balance her schedule instead of trying to get to a traditional classroom at a set time every week. “I had more flexibility with the online programs, which made it easier for my schedule in terms of when I could finish assignments,” she said.

While Solis emphasizes the importance of having a master’s degree in education, she also suggests waiting to receive the degree. “Someone who just graduated from college might want to get a solid ground in teaching first before pursuing a master’s degree,” she explained.

She said her education prepared her for her career as a teacher. “I had to learn how a child thinks, and I also had to learn to take a child’s reading level into account, along with a student’s background,” she explained.

Solis also stays up-to-date with new information available online for teaching. “Technology is so important in teaching today, so you want to know what’s going on,” she said. Solis said she uses websites to find new ideas on how to teach lessons.

Solis’s master’s degree in curriculum instruction also prepared her for classroom teaching. “My master’s degree in curriculum education helps me think of how to present ideas and teach students. I can look at the curriculum differently and find how to present the ideas to my class,” Solis said.

In the state of Illinois, teachers are required to renew their licenses by obtaining continual professional development units (CPDUs). According to the Illinois State Board of Education, teachers must have 120 CPDUs to renew their license and must have them completed in five years, and this requirement can be fulfilled by taking graduate-level classes or attending workshops through approved providers. The workshops might be off-site in another school or could be all-day conferences on a particular topic.

Solis said she fulfills her professional development requirements by attending conferences and workshops on education-related topics.

“I think continuing education is so important for teachers. As a teacher, I never want to be stagnant and do the same thing every single year,” Solis said.

“I like to continue my education, and it’s something I would do anyway for my own professional development. When teachers take the continuing education classes, they can prove they’ve furthered themselves, and it helps them in the classroom,” Solis said.

Megan Horst-Hatch is a mother, runner, baker, gardener, knitter, and other words that end in “-er.” She loves nothing more than a great cupcake, and writes at I’m a Trader Joe’s Fan. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.