Being a Part of the Change I Want to See in Alternative Routes to Teaching Certification

Have you done it?

Are you doing it?

What are your thoughts?

There have been quite a few occasions when my personal philosophy on education was diametrically opposed to that of those in upper-management of New York School Talk. One of those issues is alternative routes to teacher certification.

Teaching is extremely mentally, physically, and emotionally taxing work which necessitates burgeoning educators to have sufficient, meaningful, and rigorous training prior to being thrust into the classroom with students of their own. If ill-prepared, their time in the classroom has a great chance of being painful and short-lived.

One thing I love about education and communication is that they allow for ongoing introspection and re-evaluation. I received a lot of feedback after I wrote a recent blog post about my view on alternative routes to teacher certification. The voices in the conversation were varied, ranging from teachers like myself who took a traditional route towards obtaining their teacher certification, to teachers who went through programs like Teach For America who, by all standards, are excellent educators and are still in the classroom, and beyond.

As a result of these conversations, I decided to apply to be a Hiring Support Ambassador for NYC Men Teach to help candidates seeking to become vetted teachers via entrance into alternative teacher certification routes. My application was accepted, thank God, and I am now slated to assist with the running of workshops and providing one-to-one support for candidates in these programs.

According to NYC Men Teach,

In a city where the majority of the 8.4 million inhabitants are people of color, it is important that such diversity is reflected in New York City classrooms.

Diverse cultures, perspectives, and realities are the backbone of our great city, and increased understanding of the rich diversity in our city affects every aspect of our daily lives. Yet, far too many young people in our City—especially young men of color—will never see someone who looks like them at the chalkboard. If we’re going to be serious about addressing inequity in education, economics, health and justice, diverse teachers must be a part of the overall strategy.

In January 2015, Mayor Bill de Blasio, in conjunction with New York City’s Young Men’s Initiative, made a bold pledge: NYC will develop new initiatives and programs aiming to put an additional 1,000 men of color on course to become NYC public school teachers over the next three years.

The Young Men’s Initiative, together with Department of Education, City University of New York, Center for Economic Opportunity, and Teach For America, excitedly announces the launch of NYC Men Teach to recruit and unite Black, Latino and Asian men committed to educating today’s diverse student population; supporting each other’s professional and leadership development; and to empowering the communities they serve.

I got involved with NYC Men Teach over the summer after one of my readers urged me to not just write about the injustices and inequities that I see plaguing students and teachers of color throughout New York, but, instead, to be a part of the change for the better that I desire to see. I became a mentor for Black men in their first year of teaching in the NYC DOE.

The work has proven to be very rewarding. This is exactly what I am doing again as a hiring support ambassador for NYC Men Teach. I know I won’t be able to touch every new teacher who takes an alternate route to entering the field, and I still have my reservations, but I know that those prospective teachers who are ushered into the teaching profession via this program will get the best training in resume-writing, lesson planning, interviewing preparation, demo lesson preparation, etc. that my colleagues and I can possibly provide.

We all desire to see more excellent teachers of color in the classroom for we know that our presence has a hugely positive impact on all students, especially our Black and Brown boys and girls.

What do you think?

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