Keep a file with everything you
need to bring to the district
office. Then bring a piece of
paper with a check list when
you go down to apply for a
teaching position. If you have
missed something, you will
have to start all over again at
the beginning of the line, so
make sure everything is
checked off before you get
Certification is the critical step a teacher must take in order to enter a classroom. It is the process of qualifying for the job - meeting the requirements set by the state and by the local school district.
There are many roads that can take you into the classroom. It's important to know your options. Requirements will vary state to state and district to district. If you're serious about becoming a teacher, contact your local district office and get the requirements you need to get certified in your state.
The National Teacher Recruitment Clearinghouse site has a section that clearly breaks down the process of licensure, certification and accreditation:
Visit resources to find other links that will help you get certified.
State To State Certification Requirements
The road to certification can be long and unyielding. Don't get overwhelmed. Persevere and you'll make it through the process. Be aware that your personal pathway to getting certified is determined by a combination of factors - your experience, the subject you intend to teach and your state's requirements.
Although the certification pathway is unique, there will be a few essential requirements that you will most likely need to fulfill.
- B.A. Four Year College or University Degree or Foreign University Equivalent
The District likes it if you have a diverse and liberal arts college education. And, if they think you're missing a class in a certain area, you can always catch up at a community college. -Maurice
- Required Testing (Basic and Specialized)
- Additional Requirements and Considerations: College Records, Letters of Recommendation, TB Test, Fingerprints, Past Work Experience
You'd be surprised how much you have to get together when you apply to become a teacher. Give yourself a few months to prepare. You have to take the required tests for the grade level or special subject you plan to teach; you have to gather letters of recommendation, get a medical exam, get your fingerprints on file. Then there is a pile of paperwork to go through - so give yourself time! -Nate
- Teacher Training Programs: Credentialing Programs, Student Teaching, Internships
When you go through a university program, you are given an advisor and the university oversees the whole process and your coursework. -Joy
If you're in a credentialing program, you need to find a balance between the formal education you're getting and your own personal teaching style. -George
- Emergency Credentials: In some districts where the need for teachers is greatest, you can teach before you have the proper certification.
When you have an Emergency Credential, you have to teach and work toward your credential at the same time. It's a very challenging and difficult option. -Geneviève
- Special Programs: BECA, Teach for America, Troops to Teachers
Not all teachers start with a Masters program in education. Some enter the profession through special programs, which help prepare them and place them in schools.
Teach for America will give you a lot of support throughout the process. They provide options for you and a network of people who are there to help. -Maurice
What's Up Ahead
School systems are large and complex institutions. Bureaucracy is often part of the process of becoming a teacher. Prepare yourself for what's up ahead. Many teachers have experienced roadblocks - impersonal treatment by filing clerks at the district office, long lines, office errors, confused logic, excessive paperwork and hidden costs. Don't despair. If you face any of these problems along the way, remember why you're there in the first place - to teach.
Stay focused and you'll come out stronger and more patient from the experience, all qualities that you'll need to bring to your first classroom.
Visit resources to find links that will help you find out what's ahead.
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Joy on UCLA teacher training program
Andrew on Emergency Credentials
Nate on District experience
Maurice on focusing on the kids
Maurice on District problems
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© 2001 Teachers Documentary Project, Inc.