I'd like to be teaching high school math in New England by next fall. Is that doable?
September 9, 2010 2:44 AM   Subscribe

What steps will I need to take to be teaching by next fall?

I'm a male with an associate's in Software Development, and a bachelor's in Software Engineering, so I took a ton of math courses in college. I want to get certified to be a math teacher, and I'm hoping that my certification will allow me to teach in any of the three northern New England states (NH, VT, ME) as I'm not quite sure where I'll end up! My goal is to be capable of teaching/assistant teaching by next fall.

There's a lot of information online, but I'm looking for advice from people who've already done this, ie: "I did it online, and I wish I hadn't because..." I could figure out how to find/take a course (be it local or online) but I'd like to know what people with experience know about the certification process, and also about the likelihood of finding a certification that's good in NH, VT and ME...

posted by Glendale to Work & Money (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Quick question: do you want to teach at public schools only or are you open to teaching at a private school? Private schools generally don't require certification (not saying that it doesn't help) and are usually good about helping you get further degrees (in education or your subject) if you stick around for a while. (Disclaimer: I taught at a small rural Ohio private school which was great, although the pay was lousy. But the area was cheap to live in and they provided housing.)

Public schools pay better, have stronger unions and rules about teacher hiring/firing, require certification, allegedly have worse behaved students (depends on the school, I think) and generally larger classes (although I'm biased in this regard, as I've seen the private school where I taught and then NYC public schools (where I live now)).

I'm working on getting certified in NYS, don't know about online options. I'll be watching this with great interest.
posted by Hactar at 2:52 AM on September 9, 2010

Response by poster: I'm open to either, but I imagined myself in a public school...
posted by Glendale at 2:59 AM on September 9, 2010

Best answer: You want to look for a "lateral entry" program - those are structured for professionals who want to transition to teaching. Some states allow lateral-entry teachers to begin in the classroom while they are in school. That's about the only way you would be able to ramp up that quickly for a teaching position. Even with a degree, it's probably at least a year (and you are probably going to miss the fall semester since school has started at most universities).

As far as teacher assistants, I assume they are different in every state, but in our local districts they require only a high school diploma and pay less than half of what an entry-level teacher makes (less than $20k).

Overall, it's a terrible time to be entering the teaching profession, as many school districts have faced or are facing massive layoffs. Here in NC, we are being told that next year (11-12) will be the worst yet, as the Federal stimulus money dries up. As a math teacher, it may be easier for you. Better yet would be science or special ed, where there is always a big demand.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 3:38 AM on September 9, 2010

For New Hampshire you can get certified through ABCTE, which is an online certification program accepted in a variety of other states as well.
posted by statsgirl at 4:32 AM on September 9, 2010

I would like to second Sweetie Darling: It's a rough time to be starting as a teacher, but if you teach in math or sciences, you should have an easier time.

Hopefully someone will come in with lateral entry program information for those specific states (although a little googling should turn it up -- things like "career change teacher NH" or whatever).

Note that in most states you can become a substitute with just a bachelor's (no certification); this would be an excellent way to get your feet wet, get known by a local district (sometimes helps, sometimes doesn't), and have a little experience when you're applying for jobs.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:23 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

As a 40 year educator, I offer a different perspective. It may be a great time to be a beginning teacher.

My perspective says it cannot get much worse.

Face it, there will always be a need for many, many teachers. In this world, anyway.

Society is faced with who it wants to be a teacher. There is still a free market in career choice. If society wants highly capable people to teach they are gonna have to pay for them. No government edict has ever or will ever mandate improvement.

I hired a million teachers. Sometimes I had a bowlful of candidates. Sometimes I hired a warm body. Society will determine who it wants in front of her kid.

On the other hand, certification requirements are such that you may have a very difficult time getting that certificate. Society determines that. Some states have doable alternative routes. Good luck!
posted by private_idaho at 7:11 AM on September 9, 2010

What steps will I need to take to be teaching next fall?

1) Get a teaching certificate
2) Fix the national economy and repair state budgets

As people have said, math and science is a bit more in demand than other things, but people with masters in teaching are getting fired in droves right now, so people with BAs and teaching certificates are probably not even being considered in most places. You can give it a shot, but don't count on much.
posted by outlandishmarxist at 7:24 AM on September 9, 2010

Best answer: Check out this website, Teachers-Teachers.com. This is a legitimate K-12 education jobs board, and if you scroll to the bottom, there are links to actual state certification requirements for all states.

In most states, what you're looking for is called "Alternative Certification." In Florida (my state, so this is what I know), most junior colleges have a 21-hour certificate course (called Education Preparation Institute - EPI) for career changers who already have bachelors degrees in a specialization *other than* education. In Florida, these teachers are highly sought because they have subject education, not just pedagogy, and are considered "highly qualified" (a major education buzzword).

You will do fine with your math/science specialty, especially since people with masters being laid off right now. School districts want beginning teachers because they can pay them less. Hot tip: try to add endorsements for ESE (exceptional student education), ESOL (English to speakers of other languages) and/or Reading. Pretty much all districts are dying for teachers with these qualifications.

For some real concrete advice, go down to the central office of a school district you'd like to teach in and ask them how to get started. Or call your nearest community college and ask them if they have an EPI program. To teach in public schools, you'll have to apply through a district central office anyway.
posted by toodleydoodley at 8:07 AM on September 9, 2010

Also consider targeting schools with an IT or tech academy program. Good computer teachers are also hard to find, and if you can teach both math & IT, that will make you very marketable. Programming courses are in pretty high demand, at least in California. Good luck!
posted by smirkette at 9:59 AM on September 9, 2010

Response by poster: No other advice?
posted by Glendale at 1:32 PM on September 9, 2010

Response by poster: Woops, looks like I just needed to hit "refresh". This is all great stuff, thanks so much guys!
posted by Glendale at 2:20 PM on September 9, 2010

I was in your shoes exactly this time last year. I will have my certification complete (in Elem. ed, however) by mid-november. I did a full-time certification/MAT program, which was a perfect fit for my situation. However, it will be nearly impossible for you to be working full time in a school by next fall. It's best to plan for two years from now, unfortunately, because it's really not feasible to finish your student teaching and all of your coursework. Although some private schools don't "require" certification, they really do, especially if you are coming from a pretty unrelated field. Also, I highly highly recommend that you start volunteering in an after school tutoring position or something similar to get your foot in the door at as many places as possible (private and public) because that is really the only way teachers get jobs these days. It's also nice to preview whether or not a specific schools fits with your own philosophy. Lastly, for math, there are so many fellowship programs in urban areas that offer job placement and pay for your schooling, so I would look into something like that. I'm not sure where you are, but the Academy of Urban School leadership is one such example (for here in Chicago).

Good luck! Teaching is so much fun!
posted by shrimpsmalls at 6:14 PM on September 9, 2010

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