People who are interested in helping students who struggle with English or math skills might be interested in becoming a Title I teacher. Title I funds are focused on schools with a high number of students from low-income families who are identified as being at-risk academically. Although most Title I teachers teach at the elementary school level, there are also some Title I positions at the middle and high school level.
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What They Do
Title I teachers work with students who struggle academically, but they are not the same as special education teachers. Students are not selected for Title I because of a disability but based on academic scores and progress. Title I positions are funded by the federal government. One duty of Title I teachers might be reviewing data to identify which students might be at risk. The teacher would also develop lesson plans and work with teachers and parents.
One way Title I teachers differ from other teachers is that they do not have a regular classroom of students or focus on one particular grade. Instead, they might see a group of students for a certain amount of time each week, and the group might be mixed in grade level. In other schools, they might work with the regular classroom teacher.
Title I teachers need to have the same education and qualifications as regular classroom teachers. In fact, some teachers may spend part of their career as Title I teachers and part of it teaching in a regular classroom. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, elementary school teachers need either a bachelor’s degree in elementary education or in a specific subject with a certification in education. In some places, teachers may be required to have a master’s degree. A similar path would be followed by people who hope to work with middle or high school students. There is no particular path to follow in becoming a Title I teacher, but students may want to take classes that focus on working with at-risk and underachieving children. When choosing a classroom for student teaching experience, the student might also want to try to work in a Title I school if possible. They may also want to volunteer with at-risk youth to get some experience working with this particular population.
What to Expect
Working as a Title I teacher can be rewarding, but there are also challenges associated with the position that teachers in other jobs may not deal with as much. For one thing, children who are in a Title I program may face exceptional life challenges themselves. According to an article in the Washington Post by a teacher at a Title I school, teachers in these schools work long hours and may use their own money at times. They might also struggle with some of the policies they are required to enforce. Burnout can be a problem, but it can also be exciting for a teacher when a student has a breakthrough, such as learning to read.
Students who want to work as Title I teachers may want to identify specific schools where they hope to work and talk with teachers there about their experience. While a person can be hired as a Title I teacher with regular coursework and experience in education, experience with children struggling academically can help them better prepare to become a Title I teacher.