eeny meeny miney moe...
October 1, 2008 2:39 PM   Subscribe

What's the easiest path to becoming a teacher? Can you help me decide on an online teacher certification program? Any anecdotes or perspective on online education would be particularly helpful.

So, as a corollary to my previous anon question regarding a desired career change, I have decided that I'd like to become a teacher, probably of the elementary or middle school variety. It seems that the best way for me to accomplish this would be through an online teacher certification program, as this would allow me to continue working full-time during my education. An online-only program is important to me because: 1. I may move cross-country in the next 2 years and 2. My family's health insurance is through my current employer, so I need to stay working.

Right now, I have narrowed down my choices to online programs at either Drexel U or Western Governor's U.

Drexel's program seems better to me. A big hang-up for me right now is undergraduate requirements. Many of the teacher certification programs (even for elementary education) require a wide breadth of basic undergraduate classes that I never took in college (things like Economics, History, Statistics, Chemistry). I have a BA in Anthropology. I would like to take as few undergrad classes as possible. WGU seems a little more lax than Drexel in this area. I know that may be a crappy rationale for deciding on a school, but it's the truth. I'd really prefer not to take a year or more of undergrad classes if I don't have to.

Are there alternative routes to teacher certification I am missing. Are there any other schools/programs you would recommend I investigate? Can you share any good/bad/similar experiences with online education?

This question is anon b/c my username easily identifies me, and I'd prefer if my bosses didn't know I was contemplating a career change. I can be contacted at crankyjawa@gmail.
posted by anonymous to Education (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
There is also the world of postgrad degrees. There are a ton of 1 year add-ons to get a teaching certificate. Look around at your own undergrad university for this.
posted by k8t at 2:50 PM on October 1, 2008

You can do an online program and maybe get exactly what you need to teach elementary or secondary education. You will need a masters to get cert'd unless you live in Illinois (please check on this). The downside of online education for the degree is the lack of hands-on classroom instruction. You could probably find a supplement. Or you might be looking at programs that emphasize programs aimed at virtual learning environments for children and teens. You should remember that most teacher training programs are at night and will take around the same time as an online program. You should look at what your local state college has in the way of classes and seek advice from a teacher if necessary.

You could always come to GW! (self link)
posted by parmanparman at 2:55 PM on October 1, 2008

Elementary school teacher here. Take the route that's easiest and fastest. You will hardly use any of what you learn in school in your classroom. Here's what I have found to be true: every class I took before getting into my own classroom was almost completely worthless; every professional development seminar/class/workshop I have taken since I got my own classroom has been invaluable. Before you have your own classroom, everything you learn about teaching methodology and classroom management is very abstract. At the end of your first week of teaching, it feels you just got slapped in the face and everything you learned heretofore got slapped right out of you. You slowly start to figure out what works and what doesn't work for you and your students. Then, as you begin to take workshops, you'll get new ideas that you can test-modify-retest-modify-make permanent/retire.

So get yourself into a classroom as soon as you possibly can.

Check my AskMe history for lots of posts on teaching if you'd like. It's an incredibly stressful job and not one for anyone who wants to work fewer than 12 hours a day. (I am in my classroom from 6:30am-5pm then I come home and do two hours more of work. Lesson planning, creating manipulatives and gathering materials, keeping records, grading, decorating, preparing for meetings, etc. take forever.) I'm in my fourth week (!) of teaching right now and it's hell.
posted by HotPatatta at 3:23 PM on October 1, 2008

Consider working through Teach For America right away. You would have to commit for working at a TFA school for two years. I say this because for two years the pay is the same as a regular beginning teacher, and you could see if you actually want to be a teacher (or even if you're good at it). If you have a passion for working with students who need the most help, this could be an option for you.

I have a lot of friends who went through TFA, continued teaching, and got their full accreditation.

I want to agree with anyone who says, "get in a classroom as soon as you possibly can." I've been teaching for 7 years, and I can honestly say that its harder than anything I've ever done. Lots of smart, competent people can't hack it. Managing a classroom is not just about i.q.

Good luck and email me if you need any help.
posted by allthewhile at 3:29 PM on October 1, 2008

My son did Teach for America.
posted by bjgeiger at 3:31 PM on October 1, 2008

If you can, try to get certified to teach in New York State. It's difficult and full of red tape, but from what I hear from teacher friends of mine, it's very easy to get jobs in other states if you're certified by New York, since the certification process is so much more involved than anyplace else.
posted by fvox13 at 4:01 PM on October 1, 2008

I did Teach For America and would be happy to talk with you if you have questions--you wouldn't be the first MeFite to e-mail me about TFA.
posted by yellowcandy at 10:16 PM on October 1, 2008

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