VA Career Switcher Program

Discussion in 'Job Seekers' started by mwcdem, Jul 30, 2016.

  1. mwcdem

    mwcdem Rookie

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    Jul 30, 2016

    I'm looking into this program but have a lot of questions about what it's really like. Apparently most schools offer the courses online but also require attendance at several weekend seminars? And regarding the practicum portion--is that typically done when all the coursework is complete, or at the same time? Does anyone have a program they especially liked or disliked?

    About me: I have a BA in History and an MS in Publishing. I'll be relocating to my hometown where I attended elem, middle, and hs, Lexington, VA, in a few months. As far as I've seen in my research, it's not close to any of the schools that offer the Career Switcher program, so distance is a definite concern....

    Thank you for any advice! I am on the cusp of making a major life and career change, so if anyone is willing to correspond and answer some questions, that would really mean a lot.
     
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  3. ReverseSpin

    ReverseSpin Rookie

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    Aug 2, 2016

    Typically the student teaching practicum part is done during the coursework. EducateVA is one of the big VA career switcher programs and they do the student teaching during part I and then in part II you find employment as a full time teacher (on a provisional license) and have 3 or so additional classes.

    After the 1 year provisional, assuming you are successful and vetted by the school division, you get the 5 year renewable license.

    Are there teaching jobs in Lexington, VA? In certain areas of Virginia there is a great teaching need (in certain subjects). Places nearby like Richmond probably has a bunch of jobs.

    An alternative to these career switcher program is available - and it is something I'm trying to do.

    Here is how it's done:
    1. be eligible for the career switcher (5 years of work at minimum, etc.)
    2. pass your VCLA and your content area Praxis II
    3. apply to schools as being "eligible for a provisional license"
    4. get hired by a school - the school district then helps you to apply for a provisional license
    5. you then have 3 years to complete the requirements for the full 5 year license (basically college courses in your endorsement area + 15-18 credits of teaching courses)
    6. do well in the district so that they will recommend you for the full 5 year

    The main difference between my route and the career switcher program route:

    Pro:
    a. look for a job now instead of in 6 months after the program
    b. don't have to pay program tuition fees
    c. don't have to spend time in program classes / getting to closest program school

    Cons:
    a. you won't have the student teaching part of the program down so you will have a bit less experience than program folks - so do other things to make it up (tutor, coach, etc.)
    b. maybe slightly harder to find a job because you don't have a provisional but are just eligible for provisional
    c. you need to take a few teaching courses - 15 to 18 credit hours - while working as a teacher (vs. having to take them prior to teaching during the Career Switcher program)
    d. [biggest!] depending on your endorsement area, you may need a bunch more college course. This is the biggest difference. For instance, if I were to try and teach HS Math all I need to do for the Career Switcher is to pass VCLA, Math Praxis II and then do the Career Switcher program. With my route, I need to pass VCLA, Praxis II and either have a BA in Math (I don't) or take 36 college credit hours in Math.

    36 hours is about 12 courses so for me going my route, I'm 2-3 courses short and will need to take them during the 3 years. If I went career switcher I don't have to take any additional math courses.

    This is important if you haven't done a bunch of courses in your endorsement. For example, I thought about Physics, which requires 32 hours. I've passed my Praxis Physics so I can do Career Switcher in that fine. However going my route I would need an additional 26 credits in Physics. That's a lot!

    My suggestion is go and pass the VCLA and Praxis in your intended endorsement now and then go look for a job. Worse case you can fall back to career switcher.

    And finally, to answer the baseline question: does your route work?

    I'm mid-40s and decided to go into teaching about 6 months ago (after a lifetime thinking about it). I'm mainly looking for a job in Fairfax County Virginia, which as you know on average has more money and higher performing and therefore is likely more picky than other school divisions in the Commonwealth. However Fairfax is big and full of students and therefore has a need for teachers.

    I'm pursuing HS Math which is a high needs field all over. My career is not math related at all.

    I've had 4 interviews so far and 1 clear cut rejection due to no teaching experience. The 3 others are still out there (I'm not their first choice!) because they aren't sure they can fill the position. As you know school is about 5 weeks away still.

    All the places I've interviewed at loved me (I think!) and the hold up is the experience. Every place suggested that if I don't get hired by them then I should put my hat in the ring for a long term sub in math at their school because I would definitely be near the top of the list for those positions.

    When I asked them if they would rather that I have a student teaching gig under the Career Switcher program or a long term or daily sub experience, all of the admins said the subbing experience would mean more to them when hiring.

    So hopefully I will land something and I feel that I'm pretty close. If I don't then I plan to do LTS this fall as soon as positions open up. I see a bunch of ELA long term subs open in my district, and some SS/Government, but no math yet.

    Perhaps you should consider this alternative to the Career Switcher programs.

    More info here - "my route" is the Experiential Learning route in this pdf:
    http://www.doe.virginia.gov/teaching/licensure/multiple_licensure_routes.pdf
     
  4. teacher16

    teacher16 Rookie

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    Aug 2, 2016

    Hi!

    I am enrolled in a career switcher program through a university in Virginia.

    Level 1 is all online courses with practicum. The practicum hours go along with each class (5 hours for each course). I was told for the practicum, I would observe but could work with students or teach a lesson if the teacher allowed.

    Level 2 is when you are working full-time in a contracted teaching position. I will also have to take 2 online classes during level 2.

    I have to do only 2 Saturdays in the fall and then 2 Saturdays in the spring.

    I will have a mentor assigned to me through my university and through the school while I complete my level 2.

    Financial Aid is offered. There is also the option of having 24 of the credits you complete for the career switcher program to be transferred to a M.Ed (which is what I am doing).

    I had to take the VCLA and Praxis II prior to being admitted to the program. After being accepted you have to do: background check, cpr/aed training, get liability insurance and have a tb test done.

    I start my level 1 classes on 8/22 and expect to receive my provisional license in May 2017. I would then apply to schools for the fall start of the school year.

    What ReverseSpin wrote is true and another option as well.

    It’s a tough decision but now that I have made it and have started the process, it’s very exciting!
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2016
  5. mwcdem

    mwcdem Rookie

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    Aug 2, 2016

    Hi, thanks for the reply. I hadn't heard about the tb test or liability insurance before, so thanks for the heads up!

    So is the program 2 semesters? I'm really trying to get a sense of the timeline. If you don't mind, can you outline specifically how many classes you're taking at one time (including seminars)?

    Thanks and best of luck!

     
  6. mwcdem

    mwcdem Rookie

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    Hi thanks so much for the very informative reply! I heard about this option and have it in the back of my mind. I was concerned about the lack of experience being an issue though. I have a BA in the subject matter I intend to pursue, as well as an unrelated Master's, but no teaching experience.

    Haha yes there are jobs in Lexington, but it is a small town. There are neighboring counties too of course, which I would be willing to drive to. However, I do have a close relationship with the school district I want to work for, and know a ton of people who work there, so I'll talk to some of them and see if the LTS route may be the way to go before I dive into the career switcher program. Thanks for reminding me of the "my route" option!

    Best of luck in your job hunt. Fairfax is a great district!
     
  7. msleep

    msleep Rookie

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    Aug 2, 2016

    The career switcher program is easy and fast. I did this program about 5 years ago. I started in January and had a teaching job in August. Actually, only 1 person from my class did not get a job. His area was social studies (there is no lack of applicants in this area, at least where I am) which explains his lack of a job. Although, we did have another in social studies who found a job. You do not need tons of education courses and you do not need to take extra college courses.

    By the way, I have never heard of liability insurance being needed. I just checked where I did my career switcher and it says nothing about liability insurance.
     
  8. ReverseSpin

    ReverseSpin Rookie

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    Aug 3, 2016

    Just to update, since the time of my post (a day ago), I got a job offer so I will be teaching HS math with a full time classroom in a public school in NoVA.

    If I had to do it over again I would have (daily) subbed in the spring. For me I don't think the career switcher programs made sense because I wanted to get into the classroom as soon as possible (program would delay that by a year) and the additional college courses that I need to take to fullfill the endorsement (a) is less than the hours for the career switcher courses, and less money too, (b) lets me spread it over a longer time period, and (c) enhances my subject matter knowledge [i.e. I would be doing these courses anyway as a form of professional development].

    If the districts intend to look in has a teacher shortage, and especially if the shortage is in your desired endorsement area, then this alternate route to a career switcher program may work for you too.
     
  9. mwcdem

    mwcdem Rookie

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    Yeahhh that social studies thing is a major concern I have. (That's my subject.) But that's what I know and love. Aside from English, which has pretty much the same problem, I wouldn't be qualified or happy to teach anything else. Sigh....

     
  10. mwcdem

    mwcdem Rookie

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    Aug 3, 2016

    Congrats!! That's great!

     
  11. teacher16

    teacher16 Rookie

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    Aug 3, 2016

    The program I am doing requires you to have liability insurance before they let you go into the classroom for your practicum. They said it is a safeguard and must be maintained during the program placement. Different programs require different things I guess.
     
  12. teacher16

    teacher16 Rookie

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    Aug 3, 2016

    Congrats!!
     
  13. teacher16

    teacher16 Rookie

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    Aug 3, 2016

    You’re welcome!

    The program I am doing works like this for me:

    Level 1-Fall-

    Aug 22- Classes start. I am registered for 3 classes that are 3 credit hours each and one class that is a zero credit course but a requirement. Those classes are from Aug-Oct. and then Oct-Dec.

    I will attend a required Saturday class in September and a required Saturday class in November.

    The classes are only 8 weeks each so you are not doing a full semester for 1 class, know what I mean?
    **********************************************************************************************************
    Spring

    I take 3 classes that are 3 credit hours each and those classes will all be done by May.

    There will be a required Saturday in February and one likely in April.

    The practicum is 5 hours for each course.
    ***********************************************************************************************************
    Level 2 is where you apply and hopefully get a full-time contracted teaching job. I would then be working as a teacher full-time and would have to take 2 online classes as part of level 2.
    There are no required Saturday classes with Level 2.

    So start to finish...start program Aug 22, get letter of eligibility (to be able to apply for jobs) in March and provisional license in May.

    My provisional license would be good from July 1, 2017-June 2018.

    After 1 year of teaching I would then be eligible for the 5-year professional license.

    Hope that helps and is not too confusing. I’ll try to send you a PM.
     
  14. teacher16

    teacher16 Rookie

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    Aug 3, 2016

    I can’t send pm’s yet. I was just going to tell you the name of the school and give you a link but hopefully the above clarifies it a bit for you.
     
  15. mckbearcat48

    mckbearcat48 Cohort

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    Congrats on getting in!
     
  16. vateacher300

    vateacher300 Rookie

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    Aug 3, 2016

    I also went through the career switcher program and agree that it is easy and fast. Started in January and hired in August. Heading into my fourth year of teaching now. Definitely think having the student teaching experience that comes with the program helps set you apart from other alternate route candidates. Your mentor teacher will be a good reference for you. Its also nice to have the coursework out of the way before you start teaching because in your first year especially you are so stressed and time-crunched that its hard to imagine taking college level courses at the same time.

    Be prepared that you may not end up in your dream school division from the get-go because some divisions simply don't hire anyone with provisional licenses. I ended up taking a position an hour and half away from home for my first year and ended up renting there just so I could complete my Level 2 requirements and get my full license. With my full license and a year of teaching under my belt, I ended up getting hired closer to home and moved back for the next school year.

    Good luck with your life/career change! I was right there a couple of years ago. Although scary, it was certainly worth it in the end!
     
  17. ReverseSpin

    ReverseSpin Rookie

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    Aug 3, 2016

    Thanks for the congrats everyone - very much appreciated.

    Mckbearcat48 - hang in there. I'm also a lawyer who is making the transition to the classroom. Definitely a non-traditional route! I don't think any of my interviewers thought it odd or held it against me - of course I had to explain myself but I think it actually helped to give me a leg up in getting those (limited) interviews. I didn't convert all those great interviews to offers because of my lack of any subbing experience - but one school is going to take a chance on me. Also, none of the schools seemed to care that it would cost them more to hire me vs another first year teacher. The offer I accepted was on a MA+ scale (so one step from the top, which is a PhD scale). Hang in and keep on pushing and maybe expand your endorsement areas if you have the interest. Good luck!
     
    mckbearcat48 likes this.
  18. A&A4ever

    A&A4ever New Member

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    The career switcher program can be great - my husband went through the ODU program and it was very professional. Avoid the Virginia Community College one at all costs! Very unprofessional. I wish there was a way that we could rate the programs so that potential students know which ones former students liked and which ones they did not. If there was a place for that - VCC was awful!
     
  19. mwcdem

    mwcdem Rookie

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    Sep 29, 2016

    A&A that's great to know. ODU is my top choice. I'm just trying to figure out the logistics of the seminars at the moment, which would actually be a problem for me at any of the programs. There's nothing within a reasonable driving distance of where I will be living (1-2 hours), even the community colleges.

    Can you (or your husband) enlighten me a little bit about the classroom situation? I wasn't clear from the ODU website if you could complete all the Level I instructional hours online or not. And for Level II there are 5 Sat seminars at the ODU main campus, correct? No option to do those online?

    Thanks for the feedback!
     
  20. A&A4ever

    A&A4ever New Member

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    Sep 29, 2016

    Level 1 is a mix of campus and online, level 2 is at campus only.
     
  21. teacher16

    teacher16 Rookie

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    Oct 21, 2016

    I looked into ODU as well. You should call and get more info because they have different options. For example, they had a session start in August that ends in December. It is totally weekends only-both Saturday and Sunday. I ended up with a different university but ODU's program was pretty good as well.
     
  22. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Why are you talking about doing practicums and needing Obamacare? Haven't you been teaching for 12 years?
     

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