Did Alternate Route prepare you for realities of the classroom?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by LittleShakespeare, Mar 5, 2018.

  1. LittleShakespeare

    LittleShakespeare Companion

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    Mar 5, 2018

    Hey, everybody.

    During lunch today, I saw a flyer in the guidance office for teachers that are seeking master's degrees. I got my standard teaching certificate via Alternate Route for the State of New Jersey. I did take the alternate route classes at Rutgers, Center for Effective School Practices. To be honest, I feel like there's so much I didn't learn.

    You know, I've been thinking about this profession a lot and what makes a wonderful, effective English teacher. I feel like there's so much I haven't learned, that I have to learn by trial and error. I don't have the money, honestly, but I was contemplating going back to school for a Master of Arts in Teaching. I don't know if this is the right move because I someday want to be a college professor and obtain a PhD in English Literature.

    Do you think Alternate Route really prepared me for this job? I feel like there's a lot I need to fix and work on. I just didn't know if PD was enough or if I should seek more education.

    Your guidance means the world to me, you guys. Thank you so much. Stay blessed. :heart:
     
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  3. ms.irene

    ms.irene Groupie

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    I have a Master of Arts in Teaching, and I feel the same -- I was totally unprepared for the realities of that first year teaching. I don't think teaching is something you can learn how to do in a classroom, ironically -- it really is a trial by fire.

    I think if you really want to be a professor, you should go for your MA in English. After that, you could either go back to the secondary classroom, or go on for your PhD. That's what I did (went back to teaching high school) -- my experiences in the world of "academia" made me realize that for me, finding a position at a good-fit high school was actually a better outcome. Be prepared to deal with a lot of the kinds of bullying and attitudes you are struggling with now in the academic world -- there are a lot of people with big egos and little patience.
     
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  4. LittleShakespeare

    LittleShakespeare Companion

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    Thank you so much! But please forgive me, I forgot to mention this: I have an MA in Humanities. Should that still make a difference?
     
  5. vickilyn

    vickilyn Virtuoso

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    OP, some people internalize and are good at taking a few examples and seeing the big picture in that context. They generally do well in grad school or AR, able to apply concepts that have been taught. Some people have multiple degrees but lack the ability to correlate the coursework to the real teaching work. They can be what I refer to as permanent students, but not in the best sense. They know how to acquire points in the classes they take, but lack the ability to apply the knowledge in real life situations.

    Not saying any of this applies to you, just answering the question. The reality is that if you can afford to go go school full time until you earn your PhD, go for it. If you lack the funding for that, you will need to find a job that will afford you the opportunities to make a living while preparing for a (hoped for) job in another arena. That may force you to make concessions along the way. In truth, being proficient as a teacher would seem to be a condition that needs to be met if one aspires to be a professor, IMO.
     
  6. Bioguru

    Bioguru Companion

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    Absolutely not. Frankly, education classes are a complete waste of time - speaking as someone with an M.S and M.Ed. I see no other reason for education classes other than keeping PhD's in a job. I was not in any way prepared for my first year of teaching through my coursework. No amount of Wong, Vygotsky, Piaget, Bruner, Erikson, Bandura, or Dewey is going to prepare one for the first day of teaching physics to a group of kids where only 1 or 2 has the math background to even start a physics problem. I won't be completely dismissive, however: through the years, Skinner has been vindicated time and time again.

    Absolutely nothing can match the experience of having to run a classroom on your own. I look back now (as a one-year nominee and one-year recipient of TOY) and cringe upon my first years. The only thing that has made me a good teacher is teaching.
     
  7. ms.irene

    ms.irene Groupie

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    I went to grad school in Southern Illinois, at the university which houses the Dewey archives. My now-husband and a colleague in his program (MA in Philosophy) were up late one night debating a finer point of Dewey's thoughts on social democracy in the classroom. I had to get up to ask them to debate quietly, because I had to actually get up early and go *do* the things they were discussing philosophically.

    You can get all the theory in the world, but when that first kid mouths off, no theoretical debate in the world can teach you how to react.
     
  8. ms.irene

    ms.irene Groupie

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    I believe an MA in Humanities would put you in a better position to go on with a PhD in Comparative Literature or something similar, but it would depend on the program.
     
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  9. LittleShakespeare

    LittleShakespeare Companion

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    Thank you so much, you guys.
     
  10. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Here's my constant answer to this question:

    There's no such thing as someone fully prepared for the realities of the classroom. I've been in the classroom for nine years now and I'm still not fully prepared for the realities of the classroom.

    With that said, I am a better teacher today than I was nine years ago, and I expect I'll be a better teacher in nine years than I am today. I was a better teacher after student teaching and going through a master's program than I would have been with less training. I was a better teacher during student teaching than I was during my second field placement experience. I was a better teacher during my second field placement experience than I was during my first field placement. The more pre-service training you get, the better you'll be, but there honestly is no point where you'll think you've totally "got it."
     
  11. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Phenom

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    Mar 13, 2018

    My traditional route didn't prepare me for the realities of the classroom.
     
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  12. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    Mar 13, 2018

    The realities of the classroom in 2018 are not the same as those in 1978 or 88 or 98 or even 08 (but closer). The classroom reflects society and if that does not sober you up nothing will. If you do not have tons of empathy, strength, patience and amazing insights you are gonna struggle for a long time. Enthusiasm, kindness and a very positive outlook can take you a long way. Of course I teach PE so it is different. But I have taught in many classrooms over my 40 years. Very few jobs beyond combat are as stressful day in day out, all day. It is such a balance of them KNOWING you are in charge and having their respect while at the same time they can still feel like you really care at the same time. It is a real skill. I think the ability to run a classroom and teach is something you are born with. We hired an 18 yr old as an aide ( i taught her PE 9 years ago) and she has "it". She subbed at middle school and in our worst class and had no problems. She wants to be a teacher. You want to be a good teacher? Go find "good" ones and observe them ( a lot) and pick their brains.
     
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  13. LittleShakespeare

    LittleShakespeare Companion

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    Mar 13, 2018

    Wow, this is so insightful, you guys. Thank you so much. For so long, I've struggled with whether or not I want to get an MAT, but I would love to pursue a PhD in literature at some point. Maybe I should just keep working hard at this profession, learn as much as I can from my peers, and become a better educator. :heart:
     
  14. whizkid

    whizkid Companion

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    Apr 9, 2018

    Not at all
     
  15. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Habitué

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    Apr 9, 2018

    I am getting my MAT and I have finished most of my coursework. I do think that most (but not all) of my classes were helpful to me, but I am going to a very good program. However, experience in the classroom is the only thing that has made me feel more prepared to teach. I do not feel prepared at all for my first year next year which makes me nervous.
     
  16. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    The only reason I felt really prepared to teach after undergrad was that they had us out doing field experiences constantly. We did at least one field experience each semester starting first semester of freshman year, and by junior year we were in classrooms for 3-4 hours per day, 4 days per week fully in charge of planning and teaching subjects. We had our classes on campus on Wednesdays and field experiences the rest of the week. I student taught for an entire year where I was 100% in charge for over half of it. By the time I graduated I'd taught in over 10 schools, every grade level I was licensed for, and in rural suburban, and urban settings. Honestly, very little of what I learned in my on-campus classes was helpful. However, the time actually spent working in schools and teaching in all of those settings with many different master teachers was extremely valuable. All this to say, this can't be replicated in an MA program for people who are already teaching.

    I found that my MA program did require me to be more reflective about my teaching, but nothing I learned was really new to me or earth-shattering. Getting an MA is the only way to get a significant salary bump in my district; that's the only reason I pursued it. I absolutely think that I learn more and grow as a teacher every year, but I don't feel like I need to take formal classes to do that.
     
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  17. Pi-R-Squared

    Pi-R-Squared Devotee

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    Apr 13, 2018

    Teaching is definitely a trial-by-fire type profession. With most other jobs, you get training before getting started. Most new teachers are hired last-minute, handed the keys, and that's about it. Student-teaching can help but colleges usually hand placements out to the senior teachers with the best classes. So, in the end, the best way to learn to be a teacher is being a teacher!
     
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  18. tchr4vr

    tchr4vr Companion

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    Nothing I learned in my education classes has helped. Theory is exactly that--theory. Is it good to know the psychology stuff and the terms and all that, but you only being in a classroom teaches you what you need to know. As for getting a Ph.D. Positions in English are few and far between for professors (I have been slowly pursuing my Ph.D. and the job prospects don't look good.) And, on the side note for teaching at college--i teach at the community college level, and unless you are a full professor, you cannot live on income from being a professor. You are paid by the class, and there is tremendous pressure to publish and do things that take you away from teaching. The best option, if you have it--is to teach AP/Dual Enrollment at the high school level. You have the students that for the most part, are motivated and thoughtful--discipline problems are far less and generally minor--you have much more freedom in planning and pacing. I currently have all AP/DE courses, and I get the benefits of teaching "college" material with the added benefit of a full-time salary. It is a lot of paper work, but it's worth it. Not sure where you teach, but here, to teach Dual Enrollment, you have to have a Masters in your subject. So, since I teach English, I have a Masters in English. If I had a Master in Education, like a lot of teacher do, I couldn't teach that. For AP, you take a institute through college board to learn tricks and tips. I love my schedule, and I truly love my kids--I have the best and brightest, and we have tons of fun.
     
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