Going back to school for a master's in education or teaching?

Discussion in 'Teacher Time Out' started by Iris1001, Oct 12, 2020.

  1. Iris1001

    Iris1001 Rookie

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    Oct 12, 2020

    Good morning, all.
    I'm pretty sure I posted this question before, but I'm having some trouble finding it. I'm a bit new to this website.
    I got my teaching license via New Jersey's Alternate Route program. I've been teaching for 5 years now, but I still feel like there's so much to learn about the profession. I was never formally trained, and it would have been nice to shadow an English teacher. I'm thinking about going back to school for a master's in education. However, I'm confused because a few people have told me to go for a master of arts in teaching, which will provide me the opportunity to student teach.
    I don't know if I want to student teach now since I have a full-time job. My goal is just to teach. I don't want to move up in administration or anything like that. I just want to be a better teacher, learn how to teach Shakespeare to my students, learn pacing strategies, classroom management, implementing technology in the classroom, etc.
    Which degree do you think would suit me best? Should I try going back to school in spite of my years of experience? :(
     
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  3. tchr4vr

    tchr4vr Comrade

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    Oct 12, 2020

    Go back to school, but get a Master's in content. It will be more rewarding for you, and it will open more doors for teaching higher level content and college. No offense to anyone out there who is reading this who has an M.Ed, but they are a dime a dozen, and many of them require very little effort. Learning how to teach come from experience in the classroom, not classes in a degree program.
     
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  4. Iris1001

    Iris1001 Rookie

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    Oct 13, 2020

    Thank you for your response. I actually already have a master's degree in humanities, but I wanted to go back to school still. Would it be overkill to get a second master's? What should it be in?
     
  5. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    Oct 13, 2020

    I don't know who invented the Alternate Route for teachers but I can't understand why people think it's a good idea. No student teaching?? It just doesn't make sense. No wonder there are teachers out there who have no clue. I understand it's helpful to some people to take this route due to circumstances but it's NOT A GOOD IDEA FOR TEACHING. I'm sorry if my opinion is unpopular but I have never heard of it until I read it on here and I hear nothing but issues and problems with it. I would go back to school and do whatever it takes to get into a REAL education program where you can student teach and LEARN how to teach. It just makes no sense to do it any other way.
     
  6. CaliforniaRPCV

    CaliforniaRPCV Comrade

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    Oct 14, 2020

    Just like main track credentialing, alternate route has been invented once per state. That would be 50 times, a few more if we take territories into account? Kind of makes you wonder how well thought out requirements are; how connected those requirements are to reliably producing good teachers.

    I'd venture to say, just like most other professions, many don't go to school specifically thinking they are going to be teachers and on the job training is the primary source of practical skills.

    Don't most alternate routes require some experience to get a preliminary credential? And, in California, there is the one or two year teacher induction required before a permanent credential is given. There is a good bit of "student teaching" involved in the alternate route.
     
  7. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Oct 14, 2020

    To go alternate route in NJ, you need a college degree, and a major's equivalent in the courses you would like to teach in all grades, a K-12 endorsement or certificate. In science, for example, I have 2 majors in science, so that one is a no-brainer. I have also acquired over 20 credits in language arts, and another 23 credits that count as social studies/history, which is enough to earn Middle School subject specialization in LA, SS, as well as Science I top it off with a M.Ed. in TESOL (30 grad credits), and a TOSD endorsement also acquired by a attending a teacher's college in a graduate program, earned with 24 graduate credits. You are right the AR requires being on a preliminary certificate until you have the correct number of positive observations, as well as taking 200 hours of teaching courses/classes over three subsets of teacher led coursework that meets at night or possibly weekends. The course that most teachers take is taught by a department at Rutgers, so not some fly by night organization. Once my transcripts were officially evaluated, I was allowed to take the appropriate Praxis II exam(s) for each of these endorsements, so Elem. Ed - K-6., General Science K-12, Biological Science K-12, Middle School Subject Specialization - Science, grades 5-8, Middle School Subject Specialization - Language Arts, grades 5-8, and Middle School Subject Specialization - Social Studies, grades 5-8. Because I have all of these credits covering a broad spread of knowledge base, the state has deemed me eligible to acquire an Elem. Ed. K-6 certificate, Biology/Life Sciences K-12 which allows me to teach some general science, biology, and environmental science to all grades, Middle school specialization in English, SS, and Science, because I also have the 60 undergrad hours that are deemed general and needed by all elementary teachers. I could go for middle school math, but I had to tutor my son in math all the way through Pre-calculus, and although I can do it, I simply don't enjoy it, so I leave that to people who like math more than me. At least in NJ, I would say that many AR teachers are at least as prepared as graduated teachers, in many cases their maturity and expertise makes them superior teachers because they have done other things, had a lifetime of experiences before coming into the classroom. Not all AR teachers are well qualified, but neither are some of the graduated teachers. The more I learned, the more I could see that TESOL and SPED were not required, but that they were very often part of many children's' difficulties in learning and retaining what has been taught. Instead of Praxis Exams for those two subjects, the M.Ed. in TESOL required a cumulative final exam on top of the 30 graduate credits. I was thrilled to earn a GPA of 4.0 for the work, because this was not something that I would have aspired to if I hadn't seen first hand how being an ELL impacted many student's ability to acquire and retain information and then incorporate it into other subjects across a wide swath of needed learning to be successful.

    The TOSD was a no-brainer - I had raised a son who was once classified as having Asperger's, but is now considered "on the spectrum". More importantly, for our family, we have all faced his differences head-on, and he has matured into not only a wonderful man, but also a talented teacher. One of my greatest joys was matriculating together from TCNJ to earn our M.Ed's. in Teaching English as a Second Other Language at the same time. He is a fine teacher who brings great understanding to his teaching, having experienced some of the same scary times when things just seemed too hard as he was growing up in school. He also is a gifted musician, and does some tutoring on the side, but getting a really good job as a music teacher just never seemed to work out for him. With 20/20 hindsight, he has told me that he probably brings more raw emotion into the classroom with him as the ESL teacher, because he knows the effect that stinging remarks about just being "stupid", or not thinking can have, even when the speaker is not meaning to be vicious. I am very proud that he has persevered against some high odds stacked against him to see him NOT feel sorry for himself, NOT constantly wonder "why me", and most importantly, to believe that all things are possible if we stay the course, find the courage and perseverance to go the distance, which will finally yield the solid chance of success.

    Teaching is something that calls to you, often after you have lived part of your life, perhaps even seeing/understanding how important learning truly is. For me, my route became crystal clear when our son was born prematurely, and after I had spent 6 months of a 7.5 month pregnancy confined to hospitals we started to get hit with suspicions that he had developmental delays. He was considered low tone baby, meaning that he had delayed milestones for being able to role over, sit up unaided, pull up on things to stand, weak eye/hand coordination, delayed speech/babbling, although he did seem to have somewhat more normal receptive skills, such as following a conversation between others. We knew that he was born blind in one eye, but these other abnormalities seemed to slowly emerge as he missed milestone markers instead of making these rights of passage. I had suffered multiple miscarriages before his birth, so there was a lot of concern to temper our joy at his birth. I became his first teacher and continued in that role for years, where I became a permanent parent in the classroom/schools that he attended, and to teach him, I learned from some of the best SPED teachers in our state. The more I learned, the more I noted how many parents who had similar children with similar tales, many parents blindly believed that the "schools knew what was best for their child/children." I pushed to learn more about my son's condition so that I could advocate for him in a meaningful way. I am just one example of how a person who never ever considered teaching while in college was drawn into the field with what started as very personal reasons for learning more about everything that teaching could do for the child and family involved in such situations.

    For what it is worth, the graduated and AR teachers have the same preliminary certificate for the first 2 years, but they are not obligated by the state to take more coursework such as the 200 hours that were earned at Rutgers. In my first district, I had to go through new teacher training and orientation that met after school, every 2 weeks for an entire year, and that is where I met all the newly graduated teachers who had to take the same PD. I have actually stayed an active teacher longer than many graduated teachers, which I note with irony. It may be because my family was complete by the time I went into teaching, or that my reasons for going into teaching were intensely personal to me, or that my maturity helped me to see both the high points and low points of the career from the very beginning, without the filter of rose colored glasses. I don't much care how a teacher got to be a co-worker with me, but I care that they do the best possible job.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2020
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  8. mathteachertobe

    mathteachertobe Cohort

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    Oct 14, 2020

    I don't understand why you would do student teaching now, after having run your own classroom for 5 years. My district provides coaches to teachers who want one. (Also to teachers who "need improvement") My next steps at improving my teaching will be either requesting coaching or starting to work on Board Certification. I don't think another masters would help me much at this point. (10 years in).
     
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  9. Iris1001

    Iris1001 Rookie

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    Oct 15, 2020

    Thanks for your responses, everyone. I actually think I'm going to go for a certificate program in English Ed. That way, I won't break the bank with a second master's. I feel like it's kind of superfluous to go for student teaching now, especially since I have five years of classroom experience. I think I just need tools to help me become a stronger educator. I think the certificate program will help me immensely, as well as some additional PD seminars. Thanks so much, everyone! :)
     
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