I earned my initial certification to teach from New York State upon completion of a very rigorous 128-Credit Bachelor’s degree in English/secondary education, months of student teaching in classrooms that represented the grade-level in which I was seeking certification, and passing three challenging exams that tested my knowledge of not only English content, but professional demeanor, classroom management, conflict resolution, student engagement, writing, and much more. In order to receive my professional certification, I had to earn my Master’s degree within no more than five years of becoming initially certified, teach full-time for a certain amount of years (three, to be exact), be mentored by a certified education mentor (a former or current seasoned teacher-leader), and attend several full-day trainings related to bullying , child abuse, and my duties as a mandated reporter.
I can honestly say that over the course of my career, every aspect of this grueling process has proven to be be useful. Teaching is a multi-faceted profession that has a high impact on society. Making the process of becoming a teacher rigorous helps ensure that only the best and brightest get vetted properly and earn the honor of molding young impressionable minds.
A principal-friend of mine who feels strongly about the dire necessity of having the best and the brightest teachers in front of the students in her school recently shared with me in a recent conversation that after a year of providing all the supports she possibly can, she has to let a new teacher go who, in her second year as a pre-K/K educator, still hasn’t learned the basics of how to effectively get her students to sit in their spots on the carpet for circle time read-aloud every day. As a principal, she can not risk the educational foundation of the four and five year-olds for whom she is responsible.
Now I’m learning that there is a proposal for an alternative route to becoming a certified teacher. The whole alternative route thing sounded fishy to me from the moment I heard it but I said let me do some research and check out this new teacher certification first before I dismiss it as the mularkey it sounds like.
My gut instinct was right!
According to Chalkbeat,
The original proposal required prospective teachers to sit for 30 hours of instruction and then practice 100 hours of teaching under the supervision of an experienced teacher, far less than the requirements for a traditional school teacher.
The limited training came under attack, even drawing uncharacteristic ire from State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, who said, “I could go into a fast food restaurant and get more training than that.”
In the revised proposal, prospective teachers will be required to sit for 160 hours of classroom instruction, which amounts to about a month of full-time work. However, the time required for teaching practice will drop from 100 to 40 hours.
On behalf of all teachers who went through what I did to become a certified teacher in New York State, I am insulted to the highest degree! As if the teaching profession was not disrespected enough as it is with low salaries, high scrutiny, and increasingly compounded work, this second-tier of teacher certification sends a strong and completely wrong message that anybody with a Bachelor’s degree and a few hours of teaching can be qualified as effective teacher! Could any of us become a nurse or a doctor or a lawyer or an accountant after merely sitting for a measly 160 hours of training, simply because we have a degree — in anything — have a desire to function in one of these professions, or felt that we would be good at them! Of course not! That sounds ridiculous and would never be proposed as an option for entry into any other profession — except teaching, the professional black sheep, step-child, outcasted, second-class-citizen of all professions!
Everybody is out here thinking that being a teacher is something anybody can do but let me tell you something and let me make this very clear: All of ya’ll acting like you could slay this teaching game the way my esteemed colleagues and I do day in and day out for years on end wouldn’t last a week in our shoes, much less as a lifetime career — and that’s a fact!
If you’re really trying to be a teacher, put in that work like the rest of us officially, formally certified teachers did, and then holla at me. If you’re not trying to do that, step aside. Education has no room for fake ones — teachers, or otherwise.