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Question for Teachers...

604 Views 5 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  lness
Ok, so I am *highly* educated - in myriad subjects - yet unqualified to teach anything. I have a BA in no specified major, but took classes in subjects that ran the gamut (film, literature, design, religion, fiction writing, PR,etc.) I have an MS in Integrated Marketing Communications. I have 4 classes left in my doctoral program in Organizational Leadership before my comps and dissertation.

My personal research interests are holistic nutrition, parenting (ha, obviously since I am here on MDC
) and health.

I would like to teach high school or college. It appears that according to the gov't I am not qualified to teach anything. Which is a complete shame b/c I honestly believe that having a "degree" in something doesn't make you an expert.

We live in IL but are planning to move to WI. I can't make heads or tails of what is required to teach in WI. I realize I will need additional schooling, but sheesh - do I really need another multiple year degree?

I would love to teach health/nutrition but since I have no "official" degree in that area I know it would take for-ev-er to go that route. I could teach marketing while I work on the "official" nutrition classes, but can you teach marketing in HS? Would a grad degree count for background (along with 10 years of real life business experience?)

How does this work becoming a teacher? Is this just an impossible dream? I want to teach and not get into the publish or perish cycle. I want to do something worthwhile and earn a paycheck that gives me some flexibility.

(And I don't know *what* I will do with my doctorate. I really wanted to "go all the way" with my education and was tired of marketing so chose the OL program. It is interesting, but not really something you can do anything with. I know, I know - incurring massive debt and personal commitment for a degree chosen on a whim doesn't seem smart, but I like school. It's my hobby.)

Sorry for the rambling life story, but this is so frustrating that people can go to college and get a degree in education and teach right away with no real life experience, but people with life experience have to go through huge hoops to teach. (Not a slam to anyone who went that route, just saying personally I didn't have the background and life experience to be a great teacher after graduating college, but 10 years later....'nother story.)

So tell me about being a teacher....the real scoop.
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It's not that you have real life experience that's the issue, as far as I can tell, but the fact that your undergraduate degree isn't, as you say, in any specified major. Please remember that public high school, the way it's still structured, is very compartmentalized. You may have a lot of experience and knowledge, but unfortunately, if it's not in the cubbies that schools are looking for, you're out of luck.

Most states, as far as I'm aware, require a certain number of credits in a specialization in order to teach in that field. The state of NJ, where I teach, requires 60 credits (if memory serves). So, I'm certified to teach English, because that's what I have my BA in. But, I also have a 60 credit masters degree in Interactive Telecommunications. So, I could conceivably get an additional certification in New Media or something along those lines.

The big thing to figure out is how many credits you have in each of your diverse subject areas. Your marketing and organizational leadership credits may qualify you to teach business. I don't know many high schools around here that have "nutrition" classes per se (though, God knows, the sugar-addicted teens I teach could use them). Most "nutrition" is taught either in health class (phys ed and health certification) or home economics.

Next, you need to figure out how to fulfill your teaching/pedagogy requirement. Many people do this through traditional teacher education programs, either bachelors or masters. (You may want to look into an intensive masters that is completed in 1 year.) There are also alternative route programs that run the gamut in terms of how rigorous the requirements are. I did the NYC Teaching Fellows Program, which was fabulous and intense. In NJ, there's the alternate route method, which is considerably less intense, from what I understand, but not always as accepted by administrators. You also may want to look into Teach For America.

If you're interested in special education or elementary education, the requirements in terms of your bachelor's degree might be a little more flexible.

Good luck figuring it out. Teaching is an awesome profession... it's about the fourth that I've had, but the first one I've ever loved.
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First of all, I think there's more to teaching than knowing a subject area well, although, that is important. Getting some training in how to plan lessons and assess students and manage behavior is actually a pretty critical part of learning to be a teacher. Although I mainly learned this on the job.

But I hear you about the requirements. It's a maze, it's always changing, and it's expensive.

I got a teaching certificate in AZ, moved to PA and had a terrible time transferring the certificate. While waiting over a year for the bureaucrats to decide whether I was "highly qualified" or not, I ended up doing yet another master's program in an education field, so now I have ten million graduate credits. Luckily the degree was "free" since I worked as a graduate student researcher at the time, but it would not be worth it otherwise.

If you want to teach in a public school that requires regular certification, be prepared to jump through a lot of hoops.

But there are lots of teaching opportunities at alternative and private schools. If you don't mind juvenile delinquents or special ed students you could get a job easily (although probably not teaching marketing). Community colleges pay crap but you can usually teach there with just a master's degree. There's lots of ways to be a teacher without working in a school.
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Your OL degree should qualify you to teach business:

(From the WI website):
(c) Business education. In order to qualify for a license to teach business education, an applicant shall complete a program that incorporates Wisconsin's model academic standards for business education, including all of the following strands:
1. Business communication in the workplace.
2. Information systems and technology.
3. Financial procedures for allocation of resources.
4. Economics.
5. Entrepeneurship.
6. Marketing.
7. International business.
8. Principles of management.
9. Principles of law.
10. Interpersonal and leadership skills.
11. Career development.

As others have said, you still need to meet the pedagogical background requirements (that's the extra year).

If you want to teach other subjects, you need to get licensed to teach those. The ones most in demand (always) are math and science, especially at levels above Geometry (for math) or Freshman science for science (so Chemistry, Physics, etc.)
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I teach at the community college level, and I thought I'd throw in some perspective from this angle. The Masters in the subject area that you are teaching is necessary for accreditation. The recognized regional and national accreditation bodies are *very* strict on this requirement, and I would not want to work at a college that did not scrutinize the degrees the professors have. It is not that we do not appreciate real world experience--we do! But the degree comes first, then the experience.

That said, there may be community colleges in your area that will accept an MA/MS in any field in addition to 18 grad credit hours in the area you would like to teach. With those requirements, you may be qualified to teach business, depending on your course work for your organizational leadership PhD. Or, you could go back and take 6 classes in the area you would like to teach, which is better than getting a whole other Masters.

Good luck!
To teach college you would probably need a doctorate, Masters at the minimum. For high school, it's different everywhere. I don't know how WI operates but here in FL you have to meet the basic requirements for all teachers, and you can teach any subject - you can be certified based on your degree or by taking a test in the subject you want. So because of the tests, with my degree in psychology I used to teach high school math, and DH with his degree in business teaches physics.
You DO need extra classes though - it may indeed be enough to make up another degree. Many states are so desperate for teachers that they will let you start, and do the classwork evenings or weekends. Here in FL it's called "Transition to Teaching" and is intended to bring in people who have been in other careers and would like to switch.
My recommendation would be to call your local district. (Or the one where you will be moving to.) Get on the line with someone in Personnel, Recruitment, Continuing Education...whatever they call it, and they should be able to give you the exact steps you would need to take. I've only dealt with our one district here, but they were always enormously helpful and friendly. There probably aren't enough teachers up there either, so if you show even a little interest, they'll usually love you and be plenty willing to help.
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