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School me on alternative teaching certification.

KyouguKyougu Registered User regular
Some relevant facts:

I'm in Texas (Dallas specifically).
Graduated with a Political Science Major
Aiming to eventually teach highschool history.

After a lot of inner debate I have finally decided to try my hand at teaching. I know that it's not an easy, nor glamorous job and that it takes a certain person to be able to handle it all but I think I would actually enjoy it. Trutfully I don't want to be wondering if I should have done it five years from now.

So I been looking at alternative certifications (which from my understanding is what I need to start teaching in Texas) and it's a bit overwhelming. There's so many different options in my city alone.

So basically any advice would work. What can I expect? How should I narrow down which one to sign up with? I'm planning on giving a few a call, but I want to at least be somewhat informed when I do.

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    Spectral SwallowSpectral Swallow Registered User regular
    I can't say about Texas, but in Oklahoma you just have to pass the teaching test (OPTE) to become certified.
    I do know that depending on what you're trying to teach, actually having the degree would make a huge difference in getting hired or not. You might try talking to some principals though as that'll probably tell you more about hiring practices than anyone else could.

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    DeadfallDeadfall I don't think you realize just how rich he is. In fact, I should put on a monocle.Registered User regular
    After a lot of inner debate I have finally decided to try my hand at teaching. I know that it's not an easy, nor glamorous job and that it takes a certain person to be able to handle it all but I think I would actually enjoy it.

    Do you know any teachers? Can you get a classroom observation? It helps that you don't have an expectation of it being an easy or glamorous job, but I would absolutely try to get some kind of interaction in a working classroom first.

    Just thinking you'd enjoy it and actually enjoying it are too vastly different things. One of the good things about the college I got my degree from was they throw you into a classroom almost immediately to try to weed out the ones who are just thinking about it.

    I'm not familiar with Texas educational practices, but here in Colorado you have to have to pass the competency test for your field and also have a certain number of hours in a teaching environment anyway.

    Also if there was any advice I could give a prospective teacher, it's that no amount of classwork can prepare you for student teaching, and then no amount of student teaching can prepare you for actually running your own class. There's a reason why the general rule is five years before you really start to feel comfortable in classroom management and curriculum.

    Not trying to dissuade you, but just wanted to give you a heads up.

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    CauldCauld Registered User regular
    I don't know about Texas, but in many states private schools have much lower requirements for certification. Maybe check that out

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    Vater5BVater5B Registered User regular
    I can't say about Texas, but in Oklahoma you just have to pass the teaching test (OPTE) to become certified.
    I do know that depending on what you're trying to teach, actually having the degree would make a huge difference in getting hired or not. You might try talking to some principals though as that'll probably tell you more about hiring practices than anyone else could.

    As a person who is alternatively certified in Oklahoma I can say that it is a little more involved than that. First, you have to apply with a letter saying why you want to teach. Then you have to pass two tests, the OGET (General knowledge) and OSAT (your subject area). In Oklahoma, history teachers are expected to be able to teach a wide range of subjects so look forward to taking at least two of those OSATs (or the TX equivalent). Following all of this, you have to go down the the State Department of Education and have an interview. Finally you have a criminal background check to pass. Assuming you jump through all of these hoops, you get a temporary license that lasts for three years. Within those three years you must pass the last teacher certification test, the OPTE (classroom management, pedagogy, Ed philosophy stuff), accumulate 270 Professional Development hours or 18 graduate credits in an education field, and do a stupid amount of paperwork. Assuming all of that goes accordingly, you will be granted a Standard Teaching License.

    Depending on the field you are looking to enter depends on how successful you will be at finding a job. My wife who got her license at the same time as me had job offers constantly. My specialty field (in the fine arts) left me jobless for a year, and half-time the next year before I finally won a full time gig.

    All in all, I love teaching, I wouldn't trade it for anything and the amount of crap I had to do was time-consuming but relatively easy. I know the TX standards are harder than ours, but it will likely be a very similar process since we copy almost everything that you guys do.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
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    Spectral SwallowSpectral Swallow Registered User regular
    edited April 2015
    Vater5B wrote: »
    I can't say about Texas, but in Oklahoma you just have to pass the teaching test (OPTE) to become certified.
    I do know that depending on what you're trying to teach, actually having the degree would make a huge difference in getting hired or not. You might try talking to some principals though as that'll probably tell you more about hiring practices than anyone else could.

    As a person who is alternatively certified in Oklahoma I can say that it is a little more involved than that. First, you have to apply with a letter saying why you want to teach. Then you have to pass two tests, the OGET (General knowledge) and OSAT (your subject area). In Oklahoma, history teachers are expected to be able to teach a wide range of subjects so look forward to taking at least two of those OSATs (or the TX equivalent). Following all of this, you have to go down the the State Department of Education and have an interview. Finally you have a criminal background check to pass. Assuming you jump through all of these hoops, you get a temporary license that lasts for three years. Within those three years you must pass the last teacher certification test, the OPTE (classroom management, pedagogy, Ed philosophy stuff), accumulate 270 Professional Development hours or 18 graduate credits in an education field, and do a stupid amount of paperwork. Assuming all of that goes accordingly, you will be granted a Standard Teaching License.

    Depending on the field you are looking to enter depends on how successful you will be at finding a job. My wife who got her license at the same time as me had job offers constantly. My specialty field (in the fine arts) left me jobless for a year, and half-time the next year before I finally won a full time gig.

    All in all, I love teaching, I wouldn't trade it for anything and the amount of crap I had to do was time-consuming but relatively easy. I know the TX standards are harder than ours, but it will likely be a very similar process since we copy almost everything that you guys do.

    Wow, I didn't have to do any of that except take the OPTE and do the student teaching (got my degree 2 years ago).
    Oh and pass the background check.
    That may be something to think about too. A friend of mine went through the entire teaching program and couldn't pass the background check.

    But yeah you're right the higher grades (which OP said he wanted to teach) do have to take the extra test to teach a particular HS subject.

    Spectral Swallow on
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    Vater5BVater5B Registered User regular
    Vater5B wrote: »
    I can't say about Texas, but in Oklahoma you just have to pass the teaching test (OPTE) to become certified.
    I do know that depending on what you're trying to teach, actually having the degree would make a huge difference in getting hired or not. You might try talking to some principals though as that'll probably tell you more about hiring practices than anyone else could.

    As a person who is alternatively certified in Oklahoma I can say that it is a little more involved than that. First, you have to apply with a letter saying why you want to teach. Then you have to pass two tests, the OGET (General knowledge) and OSAT (your subject area). In Oklahoma, history teachers are expected to be able to teach a wide range of subjects so look forward to taking at least two of those OSATs (or the TX equivalent). Following all of this, you have to go down the the State Department of Education and have an interview. Finally you have a criminal background check to pass. Assuming you jump through all of these hoops, you get a temporary license that lasts for three years. Within those three years you must pass the last teacher certification test, the OPTE (classroom management, pedagogy, Ed philosophy stuff), accumulate 270 Professional Development hours or 18 graduate credits in an education field, and do a stupid amount of paperwork. Assuming all of that goes accordingly, you will be granted a Standard Teaching License.

    Depending on the field you are looking to enter depends on how successful you will be at finding a job. My wife who got her license at the same time as me had job offers constantly. My specialty field (in the fine arts) left me jobless for a year, and half-time the next year before I finally won a full time gig.

    All in all, I love teaching, I wouldn't trade it for anything and the amount of crap I had to do was time-consuming but relatively easy. I know the TX standards are harder than ours, but it will likely be a very similar process since we copy almost everything that you guys do.

    Wow, I didn't have to do any of that except take the OPTE and do the student teaching (got my degree 2 years ago).
    Oh and pass the background check.
    That may be something to think about too. A friend of mine went through the entire teaching program and couldn't pass the background check.

    But yeah you're right the higher grades (which OP said he wanted to teach) do have to take the extra test to teach a particular HS subject.

    If you did student teaching, I am assuming you have some form of education degree? If you did an education degree, you have a "Traditional Certification". With an alternative license you don't do any student teaching, hence the "need" for all of the additional education.

    There are like six different ways to get certified in the state, but the method I outlined is intended for people who have no training in education and are not entering a field of need. You can read more about it here: http://www.ok.gov/sde/sites/ok.gov.sde/files/Alt Placement Packet - Revised August 2014.pdf

    For the OP, after researching the TEA website for a little bit it seems like there are several programs within the DFW area that are classroom-based, one year trainings to get an alternative license and that is the only way to go. I wish you the best of luck in finding someone who has more experience with your region.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
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    Lord PalingtonLord Palington he.him.his History-loving pal!Registered User regular
    The one I have experience with is ECAP. I had a good experience with them, but finding a social studies position that does not come with coaching responsibilities in the DFW area will be ... tough.

    Here are the tests you will need to take at some point before you get your full fledged certification:
    TExES - these are your content area tests, which will prove that you know what you need to know. You will want the Social Studies Composite certification, as that lets you teach all the history courses, geography, psychology and sociology, and a few more I'm sure I'm forgetting.
    Pedagogy Test - This tests your ability to figure out how best to teach a class.

    Depending on your degree/schooling and the program you go with, they may make you take the content area test before you start on the training program. The pedagogy test won't be 'due' until your first year of teaching. One thing you can do to really see how much you'd love teaching is sign up with a few different districts to be a substitute teacher.

    If you have specific questions, you can post them or PM me. Best of luck!

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    KyouguKyougu Registered User regular
    Thanks all!

    @Deadfall I actually do have a really good friend who's a teacher and she has already told me that she'll set something up for me so I can visit a really well behaved class and a really bad class so I can get an idea what classrooms are like nowadays. She's also already said that I can come to her whenver I need advice once I actually start teaching so it'll be nice having that support.

    After looking at a lot of the various alternative teaching options in my area I realized that one of my largest confusions was one of the programs I was looking at requires me to take the PACT, a competency test in my requested field, before I can be accepted to their program. It's the only program that requires it..but it's also the one in my area and one that was recommended it, so I'm heavely leaning towards it.

    Luckily they offer a 9 hour review course for the test, which I plan on taking, apart from getting some study aides. Honestly the cost/time commitment/uncertainly of actually getting a job (I know social sciences are a low demand, though at least I'm bilingual) is kinda giving me a mini panic attack, but I feel like I need to at least try this.

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    noir_bloodnoir_blood Registered User regular
    Deadfall wrote: »
    After a lot of inner debate I have finally decided to try my hand at teaching. I know that it's not an easy, nor glamorous job and that it takes a certain person to be able to handle it all but I think I would actually enjoy it.

    Do you know any teachers? Can you get a classroom observation? It helps that you don't have an expectation of it being an easy or glamorous job, but I would absolutely try to get some kind of interaction in a working classroom first.

    Just thinking you'd enjoy it and actually enjoying it are too vastly different things. One of the good things about the college I got my degree from was they throw you into a classroom almost immediately to try to weed out the ones who are just thinking about it.

    I'm not familiar with Texas educational practices, but here in Colorado you have to have to pass the competency test for your field and also have a certain number of hours in a teaching environment anyway.

    Also if there was any advice I could give a prospective teacher, it's that no amount of classwork can prepare you for student teaching, and then no amount of student teaching can prepare you for actually running your own class. There's a reason why the general rule is five years before you really start to feel comfortable in classroom management and curriculum.

    Not trying to dissuade you, but just wanted to give you a heads up.

    All of this.

    Seriously, seriously do your research. It's cliche, but there are a lot of people that go into teaching because they're not happy with their current job, or just don't now what else to do. I'm sure some succeed, but I can't imagine that being many.

    I got myself a teaching degree and was certified for high school English- Did multiple student teaching sessions, took tons of classes to prepare me for being a teacher, and then had to do a six month stint as a student teacher, where I started by observing the class and by the end was expected to do full lesson plans, grade, etc (you can probably find my old Help and Advice threads during that time).

    And I bombed. Bombed hard. I honestly thought I was ready, and that I would love teaching and talking to kids. For me, the experience was horrible. I found that I did not enjoy coming to work early, staying late, getting home, and continuing to work by grading papers and working on lesson plans. I also didn't enjoy having to teach to the TASK or whatever test they were taking during the spring semester. And I also didn't enjoy teenagers, their phones, and their disrespect.

    Obviously this was only my own experience, and the blame for my failure is solely on me. But I say all of this to emphasize how fucking difficult teaching can be. If you can truly do it, more power to you, but like Deadfall said, very little can prepare you for it. You need to be selfless, and be prepare for your first couple of years to majorly suck.

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