What Subject Should I Teach?
Lean into your strengths to find a meaningful career as a teacher
Just getting started on your teaching journey? You may be asking yourself, “What subject should I teach?” Many times, when people think about becoming a teacher, the first thing that comes to mind are the foundational subjects we all know. But teaching is more than just Science, Math, English, and History. If you’ve shied away from a teaching career because you didn’t think you had what it took to teach the core subjects, think again. There are so many options besides these basic subjects when it comes to teaching. It is very likely that you already possess the knowledge and a natural ability to teach something you are passionate about and good at.
Are you a gifted athlete who loves sports? Maybe you would be a great coach or PE teacher. Do you speak a second language? That is certainly a skillset you could use for a teaching career, and foreign language and ESL teachers are in demand. Are you a creative genius? Perhaps being an art teacher is your calling. If you start thinking outside the box and narrow in on your specialized skills, a world of opportunities in the teaching field will begin to reveal itself.
When you lean into your strengths, you may just discover a career that is more rewarding than you could have imagined. Nobody wants a job that is simply a paycheck to collect. Can you imagine? How daunting would it feel to go to work each day and endure 5 hours of teaching a subject that you weren’t excited about? It would be nearly impossible to motivate your students if that were the case. As a teacher, it is integral that you love the subject you teach so you can encourage a love for learning in your students. If you’re anything like most, you probably desire for your work to be more than just a job. You want to make a difference. You want to live out your purpose and use the gifts you’ve been given to impact others in a positive way.
Listen to this 11th grader as she empowers adults to find a job that is more than just a job.
So how do you answer the question, “What subject should I teach?”
If you are looking for a meaningful teaching career, it is important to assess your talents and skills as well as the current opportunities. Here are some questions to consider as you navigate figuring out what subject to teach.
What are you good at?
You’ll feel more confident at your job if you teach a subject that you are already knowledgeable about. That confidence can fuel you and help you excel even more in your area of expertise. Here are some questions to ask yourself to help identify what you are good at…
- As a child, what were you known as?
- What do your friends and family ask you for help with?
- Is there something that you never want to stop learning about?
- What experiences or training have you had that gives you a leg up on certain subjects?
What are you passionate about?
A teaching career is far more rewarding when you are doing something in your classroom that gives you life. When you are passionate about what you do, that excitement transfers to your students so they can get excited about learning too. Still trying to discover what you are passionate about? Take some time to answer these thought-provoking questions that will give you some insight into where your passions lie.
- List some of your hobbies and activities that leave you feeling fulfilled.
- What was your favorite subject in school?
- Which aspects of previous jobs did you enjoy the most?
- What section of the bookstore or library do you head to first?
- How do you love to spend your free time?
- Is there something could you do for hours and never get tired of?
- Think about what makes your heart beat fast.
- What do you lie awake at night thinking about?
Where do your passions and skills intersect?
After you’ve gone through the above questions, sit back and analyze your answers. Do you see any common threads or areas where the things that you are good at could line up with the things you are passionate about? That intersection of skills and passions is a great place to start exploring which teaching opportunities are right for you.
Consider the opportunities
So, you’ve narrowed down an area of interest. Now let’s take a look at the current landscape and explore some subjects to teach that are in high demand.
Foreign Language Teachers: Presently, the US Department of Education is reporting that foreign language is #4 on the list of subjects facing a national shortage of teachers. Because these classes are required for students to graduate, there is a greater emphasis on the demand for foreign language teachers. If you are well versed in a second language and have a passion for linguistics and culture, this could be the perfect opportunity to use your skills to teach a subject like Spanish, French, or Latin.
ESL Teachers: If you are bilingual, especially in Spanish, English as a Second Language is another high demand teaching career that may be a good fit for you. ESL teachers help students who have recently moved from another country or are not fluent in English. Teaching this subject requires patience and understanding as you help students learn the language and adapt to the culture. Schools often have a specialized class for ESL. Some even have one on one coaching to allow these students to transition comfortably into the classroom.
Special Ed Teachers: Teaching Special Education can be extremely challenging but also one of the most rewarding teaching jobs out there for the right person. It takes a compassionate and positive individual to work with special needs students. The time a Special Education teacher spends with their students will have an impact that goes beyond just academics. Many of the behavioral and social skills taught by these teachers will make a difference in the lives of their students for many years to come. There are many areas of focus within Special Education. These include helping students overcome mild learning disabilities like dyslexia to providing one on one assistance to those with more severe physical and mental impairments. It is estimated that nearly all states in the US report a shortage of Special Education teachers.
Want to examine even more about who you are and what makes you tick? Truity has a plethora of free personality tests that can help you shape a career around what you are passionate about and naturally wired to do.
Okay, I’ve answered the questions. Now what subject should I teach?
Once you’ve identified what you’re good at, what you are passionate about, and found the intersection between the two, you’ve got a solid foundation to begin considering the many available subjects to teach. The possibilities are out there. You just need a little creativity and an open mind to find them. Lay out your answers to the above questions and look for commonalities between them. Do you see any recurring themes that have you leaning in a certain direction? Here is a short list to inspire you and get you brainstorming some non-traditional teaching opportunities that might be a fit for you.
11 Subjects to Teach You May Not Have Thought About:
Being a coach or a PE teacher is not only fun, but it keeps you in shape. If being cooped up in a classroom all day doesn’t sound like your thing, consider getting outside and out on the field with a coaching career.
Maybe you are feeling self-conscious because you’ve been a stay-at-home mom and the thought of going back to work makes you nervous because you don’t have a lot of career experience. You may have exactly the right skills to prepare students for a successful home life as a home economics teacher.
Are you naturally gifted with music? Why not share that gift with others by stepping into a career as a music teacher? There are so many different areas you can explore including choir, marching band, and orchestra.
Theater teachers are often the creatives of the bunch. Every day is different in this classroom, and teachers will get to have their hands in everything from music, to dance, to tech arts, to drama.
Art is a wonderful form of self-expression. It can be therapeutic for both students and teachers. Art teachers have the joy of getting the opportunity to see students express themselves in ways other teachers often don’t get to see.
If you are passionate and knowledgeable about religion, consider a teaching job a private school where religion classes are offered. Teaching religion can expand both yours and your students’ perspectives. It can offer insight into different worldviews and even help solidify your own world view.
Psychology teachers can teach students vital skills that they can use beyond the school years and apply to daily life. These teachers guide students to become introspective and understand themselves even better.
Perhaps photography, videography, or graphic design is your thing. Several high schools offer film and photography classes as an elective. Many even offer yearbook classes that teach students photography in conjunction with basic graphic design skills.
Teaching computer classes is so important for today’s generation. Computer teachers introduce vital career skills that students will need to enter the workforce and prepare them for success in college.
Health and Nutrition:
Health and nutrition teachers help students discover how to build healthy habits for a lifetime. Teachers can get creative and make this class fun and exciting with cooking projects and fitness competitions.
Robotics is an enjoyable elective that many schools are now offering. The students gain valuable engineering skills as teachers guide them through building robots that perform a specific function.
Become a Teacher. Change Lives.
If you are passionate about impacting the world around you there are few places where you can influence the future as much as a teacher. Teachers have the ability to build students up and set them on a positive course that can have a ripple effect for future generations.
If you are interested in becoming a teacher, check out our online teacher certification process and you could be teaching in a matter of weeks.