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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Alternate vs. Traditional Certification

Since I decided to change careers and follow my childhood dreams of being a teacher. As I already hold two bachelors degrees, I could go back and simply do an alternate certification and then in two years apply for full certification as a highly qualified teacher.

But.... I taught kinder for a year at a private school. It wasn't a complete disaster but it wasn't a year I would care to repeat ever. It was chaotic and messy. I didn't feel like I had the skills necessary to be a teacher and yet these little people were counting on me.

So I decided to go a more traditional route and head to graduate school for a degree in education. Many times in the last two years I have been asked why did I not do an alternate certification? Would I consider doing so now?

All of these questions caused me to research it further. Did I make a wrong choice? From the research, the information is that those who are alternately certified have poor classroom management skills. I know how to manage a classroom. Maybe I should?? But then I would talk to my principal or another teacher and then continue on my merry way.

With finances becoming increasingly difficult... I was faltering again. Especially when I was handed the Kindergarten room. Did I want to take the position? In the end, the decision was made for me. It was still on my  mind until the other day....

Remember the movie Kindergarten Cop? I felt like I walked into the wrong scene of that movie when I went to volunteer in a classroom this week. To protect the innocent (or not so innocent) I will not tell you where or why or even what grade. I will tell you that the teacher is an intern... she holds an alternate certification.

That day I SAW first hand the difference between a trained and not trained teacher. I saw it in the students faces and I felt it. I had to bite my tongue from taking over her class and putting things the right way up. There are many ways to do things the right way in a classroom so normally I learn a new way to do it the right way. Never have I felt that I had to train the person who's room I was in.

Here are a few of the issues:
  • children talking when the teacher is
  • teacher yelling and screaming to be heard over the students
  • pushing, shoving
  • flying chocolate pudding
  • grabbing
  • trash everywhere
  • kids not be safe
  • board games
  • lack of quality use of instructional minutes
  • reinforcing bad behaviors
  • no procedures or orders
  • kids wandering out the room (remember this is an elementary school!)
  • kids dismissed themselves early from the classroom
  • a child continually changes her name and the teacher can't make her stop
  • students are not sure what the teacher is teaching
  • teacher sitting at the desk and calling out numbers and hoping kids are writing down the correct answer
  • there is no ensuring students are correct or helping students who need it
I could go on but I will leave my list here. I was appalled. I see now why principals choose a traditional certification candidate over an alternate one. I am glad that I made the tradition to invest 2 years into learning how to teach. 

I am not saying every alternate teacher is like this. Just like I am not saying every traditional teacher is good. I am saying there are some things that teachers are not born knowing how to do. We must take the time to learn them and on the job training is not the best method for a majority of the people.

While my Kinder days never looked like this or sounded like this, I too know that it could have been so much better. And it will be, the next time I have my own class as I took the time to prepare.

What are your thoughts on the various types of certification?

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At September 6, 2012 at 1:07 PM , Blogger luckeyfrog said...

I think so much depends on the person. I know a woman who did an alternative certification program to be a high school teacher. She had the content knowledge, and between raising 3 (active) teenage boys and being our youth group leader for many years at church, she had experience working with kids. For her, teaching was a natural fit for the experience she had (work and beyond) and an alternative certification program gave her all that she needed to be successful, including support and additional classes to earn her master's during her first few years teaching.

Our governor would love to make it so that someone who is, say, an engineer and knows math can just take a test over the math and be certified to teach math in a high school. And in rare cases, someone may be a natural- but overall, I'm just appalled that anyone could think it's that easy.

Especially in the same state where they're pushing to grade schools so we know who's failing and pushing to pay for performance so we can kick out all the terrible teachers that apparently fill our schools.

If it's so easy, would 'so many' people be bad at it? It just doesn't make sense.

So anyway- alternative certification. I think it can work if candidates are chosen selectively because they show relevant experience that will make for an easier transition to teaching. But for the average person, I don't feel it's enough.

That said, my teacher education program could have been MUCH stronger and more beneficial, so that's perhaps something we should work on before requiring it of everyone.

Luckeyfrog's Lilypad

At September 6, 2012 at 8:30 PM , Blogger Deniece Frideley said...

Well, I have an alternative certification. Personally, I wish I would have taken a traditional route through a masters program. That being said, I went through a 4 day per week, 8 hrs per day, 12 week program. It was intensive. I thought it was a terrific program and I loved the experience! I got great reviews from my principal and from my program. My program came out for 1 entire day each 6 weeks and worked with me. I doubt that happens in most programs.

Do I think I had great classroom mngt when I went into the classroom? No. I think I've learned alot in the 9 yrs I've been in the classroom. My first 2 yrs were in a junior high setting and that was much, much easier than an elementary setting! I prefer positive classroom mngt and it isn't always easy. I also teach in a school many would stereotype as a "rough school". It wasn't easy when I began. But now, I am comfortable with it. Now, I'm working on reading centers/workshop.

That being said. I think a lot of teacher's preparedness (if that's a word) comes from the quality of their program regardless if it's a 4yr or Alternative. I teach with many teachers who have gone through traditional programs who have some of the same things occurring as you mentioned above.

At September 7, 2012 at 8:30 PM , Blogger Shannon said...

I held a bachelor's degree in criminal justice and then got a master's in education. Do I wish I had done the BS in education? Yes, but during my 1st round of college.

Would I have learned how to manage a classroom going the traditional route? Who knows. I have learned a lot in my 8 years of teaching-because I WANT to learn.

I think it depends on the person and what they are willing to do. :)


At January 24, 2013 at 4:23 PM , Blogger Gretchen Schultek said...

Great topic!

I personally went to a four year college (the traditional route) and sometimes wonder what I spent those classroom hours doing? We learned a lot about theories and famous educators. Yes, we also learned about current trends. However, my most worthwhile experience was student teaching when I got to figure things out and apply some of the knowledge.

I currently work for TEACH Charlotte (an alternate route) and see how great the experience is of student teaching during the day and learning effective, research-based teaching techniques in the evening. Everything taught is applicable the following day. No theory. No famous educators. Real stuff. I wish I had that opportunity. With all that said, the time frame for most alternate routes are rushed and the pace of a traditional route allows for more reflection and less anxiety. If we could merge the two that would be ideal!

Always A Lesson


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