Tuesday, August 18, 2009

On Applying to Teach For America and Alternative Licensure

In today's NY Times, there's an opinion article  discussing teacher education programs and the relationship between teacher pay and performance (Room for Debate: Do Teachers Need Education Degrees?, http://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/08/16/education-degrees-and-teachers-pay/ ).
In my job search, I've applied to universities mostly, but I've been thinking about teaching at public schools.  When I was working on my M.Ed. in Teaching ESL, I was sure that I would never want to teach in a public school, let alone work with youth. Four years abroad working with teens and public school teachers changed my mind.  I don't know how many times I've looked at the Teach For America website, and then decided not to apply, including this year.  But according to the Ohio Department of Education, there's no path for me to alternative licensure without being hired by a school district first.  I have all the content and methods classes I need for both Spanish and ESL (and probably technology, too, even though I didn't have them look at that).  I just need to take the Praxis for both areas which I'm planning to do in September, and 12 semester hours more of classes.  I'm looking for a new challenge and new experiences, and really, for some stability. 

But, a job. I could live at home, substitute teach, and see if something works out.  However, I have no desire to live in northwest Ohio, or even in Ohio.  I could go back to UC full-time and pay out of my pocket for more than a year of classes in education, but seriously, I'll be paying for my undergraduate education for years to come and don't need to add more loans on top of that than I have to.  This is where Teach For America starts to look good.  Yes, I'm already an educator, but not a public school educator.  I would love to live in many of the regions of the country that they're in, and be closer to universities that I could (and actually want) to do my doctorate at in the future.  I've been applying to schools in North Carolina (highly recommended by various VIF program teachers who worked there and loved it) hoping to be able to find one that would accept me through lateral entry, but I think it's the wrong time of year.  I know that T.F.A. has a lot of skeptics, some of who managed to dissuade me from applying before, but in the end I think it could be a good option for me.  

Going back to the article, it mentions that the director of teacher education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education said that of the nation’s 1,300 graduate teacher training programs, only about 100 were doing a competent job and “the others could be shut down tomorrow.” The first year I was in El Salvador, I went to visit one of the other fellows that was in Xela, Guatemala and to present at a conference there.  She had done her Master's at Monterey Institute of International Studies, and two of her professors were also visiting for the same conference.  I'd always known that my Master's program wasn't everything that it should have been, but listening to my colleague and these professors, both well-known in the field of TESOL, talk about the good ole time at Monterey, my fears were confirmed.  That was also about the time that I decided that a doctorate was for me, but that I needed to choose carefully. 

There's so many things that I would like to do, and that I wished I had planned for, but now I know.  I had imagined another year in Colombia, but being back here has opened my eyes. I'll keep trying, and when it happens, it happens!

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