Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Learning As I Go

Chalk it up to one more instance of talking first, learning later.

I've found out some more details about my plans to go back to school and, ultimately, become a Reading Specialist.

The "courses" at are not courses. The ultimate goal, going that route for teacher certification (which is a valid alternative route in this state - as told to me directly from my state's Dept. of Education), is to pass two exams. At, a mentor teacher helps you come up with a study plan, based on your personal goals, schedule and needs. You then engage yourself in several months worth of intensive studying - with study guides, practice tests, and various other helps available to you on their site for getting you closer to your goal. When ready (usually after 6 - 12 months of studying), you take the test and, if you pass, you are then able to teach in a classroom under a Beginning Teacher Certification. After 3 years of classroom teaching, you may then apply for permanent Teacher Certification. 

Okay, fine. I can do all that. I want to do all that. Go, me!

However, my state does not recognize abcte's Reading Certificate as eligible for teacher certification. Furthermore, upon deeper investigation, I now know that to be a Reading Specialist, one must complete a Master's program in Reading Education at an accredited college or university. That is the only way.

That's not to say, I suppose, that some private or charter school wouldn't hire me after acquiring the abcte Reading Certificate. But I know even they would much, much prefer to hire someone with a Master's degree and not "just" a certificate.

My next option is to either go the English Education for grades 6-12 route or the Elementary Education path - both available at abcte and both completely recognized as certifiable within my state.

Or I could get on the Critical Shortage tract, where I am placed "immediately" within a school as a Reading Specialist, but with the understanding that I am registered somewhere and will complete my Master's degree in Reading Education.

Honestly, I am not "feelin'" the whole Masters degree thing. For one thing, we don't have the money for me to go this much more expensive route, especially considering that I am still far away from paying off my original college loans. I do not want to add more college debt on top of what I have already.

Plus achieving my Masters is a whole heck of a lot more difficult and time consuming. First there's a whole process involved to even get in to graduate school. Then it's at least a couple years before you've finished your degree. 

Not that I'm saying at all that I don't appreciate a good challenge. Ask Hubby - I love challenges! He often says I go out of my way to make things as difficult for myself as possible. But I do it - without complaint and with great satisfaction when I'm done. 

But just remember - I have been under the impression that gaining my Reading Certificate, after maybe up to one year's time, through the abcte program was all it was going to take to at least get me most of the way toward becoming a Reading Specialist. Even though I know, by reputation, that the abcte study load and exam requirements are very intensive and very competitive - still. It was going to be a year, max, until I had what I needed to move on down this career path.

Not to mention that the abcte path is much less expensive than the Master's degree route.

Expensive - yes. But not as expensivee as going to graduate school.

(Oh - and that's another thing. A negative, actually, about the English Certification (or Elementary Education Cert.) plan at abcte. Both of those are about twice as expensive as the Reading Certificate program I was initially interested in. So, yeah. This is still going to be expensive. But not nearly as expensive as graduate school.)

So now we're back to that - deciding if I want to/should go for the English Education Certification (I pick that over the Elementary Education Certification). The question - again - where I ask myself "do I want to be a classroom teacher."

Hmmm. Let's think about that a minute.

It was in H.S. where I decided, without a doubt, that I wanted to major in English in college. I had some really great teachers there and absolutely loved my English classes. Analyzing novels, reading great works of literature, learning about the historical events happening during the time in which these great works were written. Everything. I loved it all.

In college, I did, for a time, really really want to be a college English professor. To have all that knowledge in my head and to be able to share it with my students - exciting them and inspiring them to want to learn more and think deeply. I really did want that.

Then I switched schools. Had second thoughts. Just got off the path. I did have those worries that I was too shy, anyway, to be a teacher. I also wonder if my physical disability had something to do with that shyness (yeah - I'm sure it did. I'm sure it is a big part of my hemming and hawing now, in fact.)

I could be an English teacher. I do think I would love it. Yes, I have questions regarding how I'd manage my disability. For one thing, I cannot stand for long periods of time. How would I conduct a class successfully if I wasn't on my feet? (now that seems really silly, as I review that sentence. As if my knowledge could only express itself if I were in a standing position.) I don't recall too many - if any - of my teachers or professors teaching from a seated position behind their desk, or even to the side of their desk. Not that it can't or shouldn't be done. I just think it would be strange.

Still - not too strange, I imagine, to hamper the actual teaching and learning that would be going on within my class. Heck! There a teachers out there in wheelchairs! There are teachers out there with all sorts of physical disabilities! Just because I haven't run across any doesn't mean they're not out there and not among some of the best teachers in the world. 

Anyway - I could do it. I am certainly interested enough, passionate enough, and I dare say knowledgeable enough about the subject to know that I would love doing it. It's just that - hmmm... it wasn't the end result I had in mind when I decided, yeah, I want to go back to school and do something with my educational/English related knowledge.

Yes, our economy is just awful right now. Yes, employment is way, way down and only falling deeper. But now, more than ever, after being unemployed for these past many months, I see much more clearly that simply having a B.A. in English isn't enough to get you anywhere professionally. It is a far too generic degree. One needs a concentrated degree or certification in order to get a much more specific job.

Hubby studied graphic design. He got a job in graphic design straight out of college.

Medical students get medical jobs.

Lawyers get jobs in the legal field. 

Tradesmen get jobs in their specific field of study.

Teachers get teaching jobs.

I have always been interested in the educational field. I have, via all my time as a tutor, been involved in the educational field for years. I have had several people tell me what I great teacher I would make. I have, until now, pushed that possibility aside. Indeed, I've hardly even considered the possibility.

Well, I think I need to think differently now. I need to do this. I need - and want - to pursue my certification in English Education.

And beyond that? Who knows. I can always go for my Reading Education Masters later, if that is what I want. By that time, I will - presumably - be in a school and will know that much more clearly if pursuing a Reading Specialist career is really more of my thing or if I am truly very happy as a classroom English teacher (as I suspect I'll be). 

Plus, I just know that having my teaching certification will open so many more doors for me. Like I said - a more specific degree/certification = a much clearer understanding future employers will have about what I'm capable of doing and what I wish to do with my career path.

So - there you go. I'm still going to talk it out some more with Hubby and my extended family. I'm not going to sign up this minute for anything. I have no deadline for when I "need" to make a decision. But I do suspect I'll make a decision relatively soon. I want to get on with pursuing my future as soon as I can.

I guess Sweetie doesn't get all her curiousness only from her Daddy. I, too, love to learn. I am a puzzle solver, a game player, a reader and a questioner. I love a good challenge. I enjoy keeping my mind engaged.

To be a teacher would successfully keep my brain active and allow me to activate the minds of my students. Academia is the place for me.

Onward and upward. Always learning as I go.

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