About ten years later, I tried my hand at teaching again, this time to finish out the school year for a teacher on maternity leave at a private Christian school. What became clearer to me at that point were the specific areas in which I was weak. I knew my content (English), but I had no clue how to design engaging lessons (I wouldn’t have phrased it that way then) and I didn’t know how to manage the classroom—not just discipline, but the everyday procedures that oil the machine.
Still more years (and four kids) later, I decided to try it the “right” way—I went back to college and completed a teacher education program as a “post-bacc.” I took all the courses that were required of undergrads and took all the tests to meet the state requirements and was subsequently awarded a teaching certificate—one of the last lifetime certificates Texas issued. I knew I still had a lot to learn that only experience could teach me, but this time around I felt much better prepared. I knew what was expected of me, I knew how to plan lessons, and I had a pretty good handle on how a classroom should “work.” I taught in public schools for ten years before moving to the realm of teacher education, and my knowledge and confidence grew every year, built on the foundation I received in my post-bacc classes. However, I was surprised to learn in one of my graduate classes on teacher education that the path I had taken was not traditional; it was called an “alternative path” because I did not complete it as an undergrad, despite the fact that I completed all the same courses and work.
Oklahoma, along with many other states, is experiencing an horrific teacher shortage. Desperate administrators are looking at all options available to them to fill classrooms. Recently blogger okeducationtruths posted a piece (find it here) on the situation and included the charts* below which reveal in graphic manner the various paths to certification in Oklahoma. The blogger pointed out that the 182 emergency hirings announced by the State Department of Education last week would not even meet these criteria.
I know that a number of the teachers in McCurtain County and neighboring counties have used some of the paths on the chart other than Path 1, which represents the traditional path. I think an interesting discussion might be had by asking some of you to share your path to certification, why it was or was not good for you, how your particular path may have met your specific needs, what problems you encountered and how you overcame them, what suggestions you might have for those considering a path other than the traditional. Although I’m sure you can guess which path I prefer, my own experience leads me to acknowledge that this is not feasible for everyone who has the potential to be a competent teacher. I would love to hear your thoughts! Please comment below.
*Unfortunately, in my blog you cannot click on the charts and make them larger. If you go to okeducationstruths' blog, however, you can do so, and it makes them much easier to read.