Career switchers are eager for teaching jobs, reports the Washington Post.
In many places, there are more converts to teaching than there are jobs, except in hard-to-fill posts in science, math and special education classes.
. . . Career-changers are considered desirable because they bring maturity and outside experiences into classrooms. They also help solve a perennial problem in public education, particularly in math and science: Too few teachers have a solid grasp of the subject they teach.
About one-third of new teachers come through alternative certification programs, which often include intensive summer training and sometimes extend to classroom mentoring. Quality varies.
If they’re thrown into tough teaching situations with little preparation, the new teachers may become overwhelmed and quit, warns Linda Darling-Hammond, a Stanford education professor.
However, The New Teacher Project estimates its retention rates are better than the average for urban districts, which often staff the toughest schools with the least experienced teachers.
Some districts have set up teaching “residencies” that let beginning teachers “learn under a great teacher in the same classroom for a year and take coursework to help analyze what they see,” reports the Post.
With a degree in Slavic linguistics, Betsy followed a traditional route to earn certification as a high school teacher.
In general, I found that my education courses were useless. The material that was useful on classroom management or lesson planning could have easily been delivered over a summer. . . . After that, the only thing is to throw new teachers into the deep end of either student teaching or a fellowship year but provide them with strong mentor and administration support. It will be a rocky experience, but I fail to believe that sitting around college classrooms taking education theory and psychology courses will do any better at preparing a novice teacher.
Knowing math isn’t enough to make a good math teacher, she believes. But it’s easier to teach a knowledgeable person how to teach than to make a person who doesn’t know math into a good teacher.
. . . I’d prefer to hire someone who had a history background and took a summer course on teacher training than hire someone who had an education degree with a few college courses in the history department. Both applicants might have trouble their first year, but mentor teachers at the school might have the time to teach the new hire how to present a good lesson; we don’t have time to teach the newbie all the history he or she needs to know to teach a high school class.
Newbies should be prepared for a tough job market, Betsy warns. Even North Carolina’s Teaching Fellows, graduates of a prestigious program, are having trouble finding work.