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Old 03-31-2009, 02:22 PM
17 posts, read 38,709 times
Reputation: 15


I am interested in obtaining certification to teach in the state of Texas (Houston area). I hold a BFA in Graphic Design, and wish to teach Art at the Elementary or Secondary level. I have gone to the state department website to research requirements, but am still a little confused as to the best route for me. If I understand correctly, I can attend a University or District sponsored program to receive alternate route certification, then pass my exam to finalize such. May I also opt to enter a Masters program which I think would result in certification? Can anyone sum up the certification process and options in a more basic way than the websites I have been researching? Would you recommend doing alternate route or putting in a little more time to get the Masters? I realize that Art positions are few and far between. I am also interested in English/Literature at the secondary level. Would this choice better aid in finding a teaching position? Also, are bilingual candidates preferred in most districts? I am hoping to find a position in the schools outside the city, as I have been advised against working in the HISD. Any advice on this? Must you obtain certification before a district will hire you or is it solely based from district to district? How long would Alternate Route take? What about the MAT route? My mother works for Deer Park so she has helped me out with what districts are better paying, etc. It'd be great if I could get some step by step processes rather than references to websites. I've read up on all this, but there seems to be so much information and methods, I'm overwhelmed.

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Old 03-31-2009, 07:21 PM
Location: WA
4,462 posts, read 5,830,716 times
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Two years ago I received my teaching certification through the alternate certification program at my local community college (Mclennan Community College in Waco). My circumstances were perhaps different than yours but it was the correct decision for me.

I had both a BA in Biology and a MS in marine science and had spent over 10 years working as a marine fisheries biologist in Alaska and Seattle with the National Marine Fisheries Service. So my science credentials were substancial. My wife's career brought us to Texas and so I decided to get into science teaching. The alternative certification program worked perfectly for me because I had absolutely no need for any additional coursework in science. The only things I was missing for certification were the curriculum education theory classes and the in-school internships (student teaching). I could have gone to Baylor and gotten a second masters degree in education which would have added an additional year to the process and many many thousands of dollars. But that would have been somewhat pointless as science teachers are in big demand. Two years ago I applied to 10 different school districts in my area which generated 9 interviews and 14 job offers within a month's time. Several schools were almost begging me to consider them. I understand the situation is quite different for art teachers. I can't give you advice on art teaching jobs but I can describe the process.

First of all, to be accepted into the MCC alternative teacher cert program I had to demonstrate to the program that I already met the science education requirements for a highly qualified teacher for composite science 8-12 (my certification). Each certification carries with it minimum college credit hour requirements. I had to present transcripts that showed I had enough college credit hours in biology, chemistry, physics, etc. You will want to look up the certification requirements for the certificate you want and see if you currently qualify or need more college credits. You can do multiple certifications as long as you meet the requirements for each one and pass the certification exams for each. So you may well already have enough college credits for both art and English lit. You'll need to research that yourself.

Once you are accepted to an alternative teaching certification program you have several choices on how to proceed. When you are accepted into a program you are granted a provisional teaching certificate so you can immediately begin teaching at any school that will hire you. It really depends on how hard it is for them to hire teachers as to whether any school will hire an art teacher intern with no experience. It isn't hard to find schools that will hire science teachers that way though. About 75 percent of the people I went through the program with went the route of getting first year teaching jobs right out of the block as soon as they were accepted into the alternative teaching cert program. You have to do some intensive summer study before the school year starts but basically you apply to the program in the spring and can be teaching by the fall. During your first year of teaching you take night and weekend classes to complete your certification requirements and by the end of your first year of teaching (if you take night classes both semesters) you should have met all the coursework requirements to convert your provisional license into a regular teaching certificate. You then have to pass the various exams (I had to take a science exam and a teaching theory exam) and then your program graduates you and recommends you to TEA for a regular teaching certificate. After that it's simply a matter of paperwork and fees and you are a fully certified teacher. A small percentage of teachers going this route end up taking two years to do it and so they have to reapply for a second provisional license until they are finished.

Myself, I took things slower. I applied to the program and did all the night coursework the first year and the summer coursework the following summer and passed all my exams before I even began to apply to schools for first year intern teaching jobs. I found that schools were more willing to interview me knowing that I was all they way done with the program and had already passed all my exams. And so I pretty much had the job of my choice. During your first year of intern teaching you are a regular classroom teacher with a first year teacher's salary. And your alternative certification program provides you with a supervisory mentor who visits your classroom on occasion to give you feedback. The school that hired me also gave me a different mentor teacher to keep an eye on me and there were curriculum coordinators and assistant principals in and out of my classroom much of the year so I had a LOT of supervision. But I was a regular teacher with regular classes, not a student teacher.

I don't know exactly how master's of ed programs work but I suspect you may do some student teaching as part of the degree requirement. Student teaching means you are paying tuition to your university and then going to some school to teach for free in the classroom of another teacher. You do the math. I know for certain that is how it works if you are getting a BA in education. You do your student teaching year while you are paying your university tuition and the school gets you for free. Then when you graduate you have a regular teaching certificate with no additional strings to pull.

At this point my advice to anyone contemplating teaching would be to get a regular degree in whatever field interests you and then follow up with an alternative teaching certification program if you want to teach. That way you have a MUCH MUCH wider pick of college programs. You aren't stuck going to just a teacher's college. You will also get a degree that is more widely marketable outside the field of education. And you get full salary your first year of teaching rather than paying college tuition for the privilege of student teaching for free.

Hope that answered your questions.
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Old 03-31-2009, 07:24 PM
Location: WA
4,462 posts, read 5,830,716 times
Reputation: 6251
PS, I forgot to mention. For something like art you may end up just getting whatever teaching job you can find to get your foot in the door and some experience. Whether that's HISD or some other district. Then once you have some experience and references you can look for work in the more highly desired districts. If you want to teach, do whatever it takes to get your foot in the door. It's all good, especially at the elementary level.
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