Saturday, June 18, 2005

Becoming A Teacher

Joanne links to an article that mentions the rise in what's known as "alternative certification", a way of becoming a teacher without going through the traditional university ed school process.

I myself am a product of such an alternative certification program, Project Pipeline. Rather than going to school for a "5th year", complete with classes and student teaching, that California's state universities would require, I went through Pipeline and was an intern teacher. I had an intern credential (halfway between emergency and full credentials) and went to classes at nights and on weekend while holding down my teaching job and being a single father. I did that for two years. Additionally, because I did not get my math degree at a UC or CSU school, I had to take some rather difficult subject matter competency tests to show that I know the math I was to be credentialed to teach. My first credential expires this October, after 5 years.

Pipeline was nominally affiliated with Sac State, I think, but in a way I don't truly understand. Perhaps they just needed some legal "sponsor". There are school districts that have their own intern programs (Elk Grove here in Sacramento Country, and LA Unified come to mind). Then there's the ABCTE, which is trying to create a national certification but so far has been accepted in only a few states. Teach For America was big several years ago but they've certainly dropped off the radar screen.

I support these alternative programs. Speaking only of California's university programs here, teacher credentialing programs are old, clunky, out-of-date, outmoded, and extremely biased to a certain style of teaching and belief. They have not adapted to the times. I'm not convinced they prepare their teachers for anything other than the spouting of buzzwords. My fear is that it's not only California's schools that are like this, as I wrote about here.

There are too many calls for America's ed schools to be revamped to just ignore the problem.


Fred said...

I am also the product of an alternative education program (ACP).

I was hired one week before school began, and tossed into the classroom. Thank goodness I had corporate training experience!

Our program gives you three years to complete the requirements. The county offers college-level courses, and the fee is $500.

I had three state tests to take: the general knowledge, subject-area, and professional educator. I thought I bombed the math portion of the general education (heck, it was 30 years since my last math course!) but I pulled it out.

Most "graduates" of the ACP program have done very well, in my opinion. Using myself as an example, I teach world history. Living overseas for two years and traveling the world extensively has helped me provide more meaningful and insightful lesson plans. Another example? One of my ACP colleagues will offer an archaeology course at our school next year. It’s only the second of its kind in our district.

Darren said...

I taught my first year on an emergency credential, meaning I had a bachelor's degree and a pulse. I hadn't even taken the CBEST, roughly an 8th grade level test required to teach. My district looked at my college transcript and said, "By the time anyone at the county or state figures out you haven't taken that test, you'll already have taken and passed it." I started in August, took the test in October, and got my scores back some time after that. I did pass :)

I was lucky I had my military training to fall back on. Despite the fact that some people don't like to see it, there are many similarities between education and the military. In the army every task we performed had conditions under which it was to be performed and standards to which it was to be performed. Task, condition, standard. Sound like a Madeline Hunter objective statement to you? It did to me!

I spent my 2nd and 3rd years of teaching getting my credential.

I, too, have lots of outside experience to bring into the classroom, from the army to manufacturing. I try to relate it as often as possible.

Coach Brown said...

I have major problems with how the university prepares teachers, and I think that I went through one of the better programs. And yes, it is very bias. So much emphisis was on multiculturalism that classroom management and curriculum was hardly ever taught. Out of all my credentail classes (12), only two showed examples of doing things for all students, regardless of cultural background. The rest wanted you to be sensitive to other cultures to the point of ignoring a bulk of your students. We better focus on the Second Language Learner, and be sensitive about the culture and its impact, while in the meantime, the poor white child has an advantage because, well, he's white.
What a fucked up way to think.

Darren said...

Since we're supposed to consider "culture" when teaching--isn't 2+2=4 in every culture?--I wonder what kind of teaching I'd see in the best schools in the home countries of these kids we're supposed to be overly sensitive to. My guess is we'd see a teacher in front of the classroom, delivering content. And no one giving a damn about the different cultures involved.

The only one that matters to me is a culture of learning.

Fred said...

I very much agree with both of you. Without classroom management, there is no learning. Many new teachers want to be liked. They want the students to be their "friends". They will fail.

Those that enforce discipline, demand proper social skills and are aware of their surroundings will earn respect. (I'm assuming they're subject area experts.)

I preach to all new teachers to go in the classroom and be the toughest SOB you can be, and then lighten up, if necessary. Doing it in reverse spells disaster.

Phyllis S said...

I preach to all new teachers to go in the classroom and be the toughest SOB you can be, and then lighten up, if necessary. Doing it in reverse spells disaster.

Exactly the advice I received as a fledgling supervisor in business. It works.

In agreement on the alternate certification as well. Because it appears some folks just do not understand the meaning of 'If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you always got', which is quite often the case with traditional programs.

Edward said...

A few minutes ago I was reading a California state budget summary for 2002-2003.

Each K-12 student costs the state twice as much as each JC student. That doesn't change much even if you consider the in-state tuition the JC student has to pay. For every dollar California spends on higher education, it spends more than four on K-12, despite the fact that there are less than four times as many K-12 students as combined JC, CSU, and UC students. Why is that?

Edward said...

The figures accounted for the fact that not all college students are full-time. So, each full-time K-12 student is more expensive than each full-time college student.

Darren said...

I have no idea why that would be the case. Did the college figures just include state cost, or was paid tuition included?