Jewish Teaching Jobs

Judaist educators: What You Need to Know

There are many Jewish-based career paths for educators today. Whether you are currently an elementary, secondary, or pre-school teacher, college professor, or school administrator, there are a number of faith-based options for you.

Many people of the Jewish faith prefer to send their children to Jewish schools, so they not only receive a basic education, but are also taught about their faith and the importance of a relationship with God. This has led to the establishment of Judaic-based elementary schools. Middle and high schools are not as prevalent as pre-schools and elementary schools. The schools are usually on the same campus as, or affiliated with a particular temple or Judaic movement. If you enjoy working with kids, teaching and learning new concepts, and seeing them develop new skills and abilities, teaching may be the right career path for you.

Teachers provide classroom instruction for their students. Depending on the school, its methodology, budget, and size, teachers may be able to focus on one or two subjects, or may be required to teach every subject to their students. Teachers at Jewish schools also provide educational material related to God and the Judaic faith, and how faith should play a role in the children’s daily lives. Teachers provide reports to their students’ parents about how well their child is progressing. At high schools teachers will also help prepare their students for college entrance tests.

Educators at the college level will provide coursework applicable to the Judaic faith and Hebrew language, while instructors at Judaic seminaries create and teach coursework that primarily prepares students to become rabbis and cantors.

The outlook for Judaic teaching jobs is good, especially for preschool teachers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2008, preschool teachers, except those teaching special education, held 457,200 jobs. Fifteen percent of this total number were employed in private schools. Employment of preschool teachers is projected to grow faster than the average job through 2018, and faster than other kinds of teachers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says job prospects are expected to be excellent due to high turnover. In fact, employment of preschool teachers is expected to grow by 19 percent from 2008 to 2018, which is faster than the average for all occupations. When it comes to elementary and secondary teachers, employment is projected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations. Keep in mind, however that there is a much smaller pool of teaching jobs in Jewish schools than in public schools, so these national trends should only be used as guidelines, and may not necessarily apply to this population.

Educational Requirements for Teachers

Although many private schools do not require licensed teachers, most Jewish schools do require the same credentials and educational level as some private and all public schools. While teachers at pre-schools are not always required to be certified or have a degree, depending on the school’s program, the vast majority of elementary and secondary grade teachers will need to have at a minimum a bachelor’s degree, as well as certification.

However, keep in mind that pre-school teacher educational requirements vary widely from school to school. Call schools you are interested in and ask administrators what credentials are needed to be considered for teaching preschool. Otherwise, how you become certified depends on your state’s requirements. In some states, teachers are required to pass a test before they receive certification. In other states, a teacher is required to earn a master’s degree. To determine what your state requires for you to become a certified teacher, visit your state department of education Web site, or give them a call. Once you are certified, most teachers are expected to take continuing education classes, keeping themselves up to date on the latest techniques and teaching methods, and incorporating them into their classrooms.

If you are interested in becoming an instructor at the college level as a staff member, or sometimes on an adjunct basis, you will need to have at least a master’s degree in the subject area you wish to teach. To become a professor and earn tenure you will need to earn a PhD in your subject area.

Jewish Educator Job Requirements

Teachers are expected to have a very solid base of knowledge in the subjects they teach. They are also expected to understand children’s developmental stages and needs, as well as have a high level of knowledge of effective learning techniques. Additionally, teachers are expected to know how to work with kids with behavioral issues, and in fact have some knowledge of what behaviors are typical of the ages they teach. Often, children with special needs are placed in regular classrooms, and teachers should have some knowledge of how to work with these special needs. Today’s teachers use technology as part of their teaching tools, such as the Internet and Smart Boards. Teachers will need to know how to use and integrate these tools into their lessons. Discipline is a part of every teacher’s vocabulary, and knowing discipline techniques that motivate students to change and improve their behavior, is essential. Most schools administer standardized tests which enable administrators to see where students need to improve. Teachers are expected to prepare their students for these tests. Additionally, teachers must know how to organize their time and communicate well with administrators and parents.

People who work with children and young adults need to genuinely enjoy being around them. Working with young people can be very satisfying, but also can be draining. Enjoying kids as well as teaching them is important if you wish to enjoy a long-lasting career as a teacher. Not only should you enjoy being around kids, but you need to be able to work with them in a patient and consistent manner. It is important that teachers have excellent communication skills, and are great listeners as well as talkers. Understanding students’ non-verbal “body” language helps teachers recognize when a student is struggling or needs assistance. In some schools teachers work in teams, and must have the ability to adapt to that structure. Even when teachers are not part of a team, they need to have the ability to work as a team with other teachers and service providers, as well as school administrators.

Average Salary Information

Jewish schools may offer salaries that are higher, lower, or comparable to standard teachers’ salaries in area public schools. Salaries depend on the size of the school and how it is funded. Salaries given in this section are to be used as guidelines only, since actual salaries will vary widely, especially given the smaller pool of schools and jobs available.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that preschool teachers earned an average yearly salary of $27,130 in 2012. In the same year, the average annual salaries of kindergarten, elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers ranged from $53,600 to $56,760. The lowest 10 percent earned $33,340 to $37,450, while the top 10 percent earned $81,340 to $85,690. College level instructors and professors earned an average annual salary of $62,450. The middle 50 percent earned between $41,600 and $83,960. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $35,670 and the highest 10 percent earned more than $142,270.

Potential Career Path

Teachers at Jewish schools can become certified school librarians, reading specialists, instructional coordinators, and guidance counselors. Teachers can also become administrators, getting promoted to supervisor, director, or principal of a school. Some school systems provide opportunities for teachers to mentor new teachers, and earn higher pay rates and gain new responsibilities that way. Administrators of Jewish schools can move to larger schools, or grow their current school.

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