How to Become a Teacher
Due to the teacher shortage, California Commission on Teacher Credentials (CCTC) in partnership with universities and school districts, there are several ways that one can become a teacher today. Here, in hierarchical order, are the options available to new teachers, and the credential or permit that each option would earn them:
As an undergraduate:
For teacher candidates who decide early in their education that they would like to be teachers, California colleges and universities are offering Blended Programs at the undergraduate level. It is an accelerated teacher preparation program that enables teacher candidates to earn an undergraduate degree and a teaching credential in 4 years, rather than the traditional 5 or more years. Blended program prepares each candidate for a Multiple Subject or Single Subject Teaching Credential. Blended means that content is offered at the same time as pedagogy. A Blended Program provides the opportunity to combine subject matter preparation and teacher preparation course work while the undergraduate students complete other baccalaureate degree requirements. When students take a math class, for example, they will also in effect be taking a "How to Teach Math" class. This approach makes teacher preparation more meaningful because students are focusing on how to teach the content they are learning. The program gives the student access to education career advisement, and participation in career exploration including field observation and experience in local public schools.
As you approach graduation:
1. You need to earn a credential. A credential is California's certification that an individual has completed all steps and passed all tests required of teachers. A credential program is designed to develop expertise in the skills of teaching . Students learn such skills as classroom management, lesson planning, and curriculum development. Usually, but not necessarily, students begin the credential program after earning the bachelor's degree. Thus it is reffered to a "Fifth Year Program". The traditional fifth-year Teacher Education Program, in which a candidate attends university classes while student teaching at a local school, results in a Preliminary Single Subject or Multiple Subject Credential. This credential is valid for five years and is not renewable. Changes in the state's credential structure are underway; the new structure will use different language such that what we now call a "preliminary credential" will be called a "Tier I" credential. During this five-year period the individual is expected to complete additional credential requirements. When these requirements are completed, the individual applies for the clear credential. Changes in the state's credential structure are underway; the new structure will use different language such that what we now call a "clear credential" will be called a "Tier II" credential. In the current structure, a student may circumvent the preliminary credential if all the requirements are completed for the clear credential; in the new structure this will not be possible.
2. The Intern Program, in which a candidate is admitted to a credential program through a partnership between a university and a school district, results in a two-year Intern Credential. The teacher works full time on contract while attending summer and evening classes. At the end of the intern period the successful candidate receives a Preliminary Single or Multiple Subject Credential.
3. California also has a pre-internship program. In pre-Intern Program, a candidate is hired to teach full time by qualifying for an Emergency Permit, results in a renewable one-year Pre-Intern Permit. The purpose of this permit is to support a candidate while he or she is preparing to fulfill requirements to enter into an Intern Program. It provides a mentor and workshops to prepare for and pass the subject matter competency exam(s) necessary to be admitted to the Intern Program.
4. The Emergency Permit is granted to uncredentialed candidates who have a minimum of 18 semester units in the subject they are to teach (and in the case of an elementary teacher, 10 units in each of four subject areas), and have passed CBEST (California Basic Educational Skills Test). This permit is not renewable unless the teacher has enrolled in a credential program and has taken a minimum of six units towards the credential.
5. The Waiver is the last resort and can only be used for candidates who can teach in an area of need. In essence, the district asks CCTC to waive one or more of their requirements (e.g. subject matter competency or CBEST) because there is no one else that can teach that class AND there is reason to believe that the candidate will be successful AND the candidate has a specific plan and commitment to completing a credential. CCTC is becoming very strict in its requirements for waivers. The district has to feel confident that it is a good request before submitting such a petition.
For general information about the teaching profession visit The California Center for Teaching Careers (CalTeach), a one-stop information and referral service for anyone considering a teaching career.