Author Topic: Advice for a starting teacher (my wife)  (Read 6648 times)

Cinder

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Advice for a starting teacher (my wife)
« on: July 24, 2013, 07:43:46 PM »
Here's the deal.

Undergrad completed with a degree in Elementary Education but no teaching cert. She went back to school (University of Phoenix)  for a masters with certification (Was Arizona), got it transferred to PA.  She has been on the sub finder list up till the school year was over, sending out apps to every school within a 45 min drive (much to my long distance commute cringe factor). She has either been rejected or hasn't heard anything, no teaching offers.  She always takes every rejection very hard, and it takes many blasts with the optimism gun to get her spirits back up.  She got in under the wire to get her K-6 cert before the current change in policy to further chunk it up into smaller age ranges. 

She is tentatively signed up  to be a TA at the charter school she had done some work as a TA prior to her student teaching (More info about it in my Journal), and came back and did some long term subbing. 


Yesterday, she started talking about how she has her Level I and needs to get her Level II before 6 years is up, and is saying she'd have to go take classes. Most people finish out a masters because 'you are that close you may as well finish it up.' 

Today she says she was doing some research and found a place where she could get it in a year for about 17k~19k, and they pay for your books and give you a free iPad(I cringed when she said it like that, who really wants an iPad?.. but I digress).  Her reasoning is right now while she is only being a TA for a year, she would be able to knock out all the courses (I think you need 24 credits for the Level II cert or something like that) and would want to get a specialization to increase her hire-ability. 


Any PA Elementary teachers out there have advice on what she should do?

Should she just take a class or two a year and spread out the 'professional development' credit hours?
Should she wait till she gets a job that would/may help her pay for it?
Would it be worth it for her to 'just finish out the masters with a specialty'


Things I don't know..
  • Specifics about her UoP Masters Degree - She said it 'doesn't really count' as an advanced masters, it just counts as the same level as her undergrad work, but it got her the cert
  • If the school she found is really legit, and actually fulfills all its promises
  • What all is required for Level II (still poking around the PA Dept of Ed site)

She said she wasn't able to find any grants/scholarships/etc for masters level work that she has now completed, since most people who are taking it are somewhat subsidized by their employer most times.  We still have about 11k left on her (was 30k) student loans from the masters, started paying on them at the end of May.  I'm planning on throwing 2~3k at them each month till they are gone.   


Filing deadlines are august 24th, and the guy she was talking to when she called up to talk to the college was really eager, and wanted to sign her up right then.  I feel like there is almost to much 'to good to be true' and over-eagerness to alot of what he was saying, and am approaching it with caution, but I don't the best way to let my wife know that.  It's not just about throwing another 20k after an education that has already cost her 30k, and who knows how much her undergrad cost her parents.  I want to make sure that if she is going for a masters, she's not just going because 'more education gets you jobs', since we know that isn't how the world works anymore.  if she is going for a specific specialization, then it should be something she wants to have with respect to a specific job she is trying to earn, not just because it would look good for the resume. 



Thanks everyone in advance for your help! 

impaire

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Re: Advice for a starting teacher (my wife)
« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2013, 08:35:19 PM »
Can you share the name of the school she's looking at? The iPad made me cringe too (wasteful marketing), and I'd be careful to get a school with an at-least-unremarkable reputation since she already had to use UoP to get some of her credits (no offense I hope, but UoP carries some negative perceptions).

Another question is--other than the school pressing her, why does she want to commit now for next year? If she's working a regular job at a school, she'll be in a much better position to figure out from her network there which schools are well regarded or not, and what expectations are in your area. I would be expecting that she'd have at least until December to make decisions for next year, is this not so in PA?


Cinder

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Re: Advice for a starting teacher (my wife)
« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2013, 07:39:06 AM »
The School she was looking at was Concordia.  The way she described everything with 'He said not everyone gets in but you seem like you have a good head on your shoulders' and 'you need to apply now to get a 2k off scholarship' and 'free iPad and Books' made me feel like she was just getting a sales pitch. 

She only used the UoP hours to get her teaching certificate (and the degree that seems worthless with how she's explaining it now).  She did this before we were married, so I can't really say much about it other then we don't want to repeat the same mistakes again. 

She went to a 4 year university for undergrad, didn't have a high enough GPA and had teachers who "didn't like her" and "were not helpful".  At the time, as her friend, I was like 'you are paying the professors to teach you, if you constantly go to their office hours and they always call them off, and/or they don't help you, go above/beyond them and lodge a complaint. '  She is very non-confrontational, so I think she just didn't want to deal with it since it already had her stressed out.  She didn't get to do student teaching while there because her advisor/professor for it was one of the professors who didn't like her. 

She worked a few odd jobs and I had convinced her to go back for her teaching certificate to do what she wants to.  She was adamant that there was no way she could just take a few classes and do her student teaching with another university somewhere, and that she had to do a whole program.  I didn't (and still don't) Understand why she couldn't do that.  She (at the time) was saying that having the masters from UoP would 'look good on her resume'. 

She went back, and did the masters program in two years with UoP, finished that up with her student teaching, got her cert and started applying for jobs. 

The PA Dept of Ed's website is pretty unhelpful, and it's unclear if your 'Level I' cert expires after 6 calendar years, or 6 years once you actually start teaching.  She keeps getting different advice from other younger teacher friends she has on if it is 6 years or 6 years of service. 

The biggest thing that she needs to do is network more.  When I tell her to ask people, she doesn't get the concept of finding out who the people you know, know.  The Pianist at our church works with elementary school music, and DW was like 'she wouldn't know about it' and I said 'no, but she probably knows someone who has just gone though this process, and can set up the communication between you two'.

Does anyone have any advice on what she should do to some effective teacher networking?  I figured the Administrative Assistants would be a great place to start, get buddy buddy with them at all the local schools, and they are the ones who know who to know, right?

impaire

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Re: Advice for a starting teacher (my wife)
« Reply #3 on: July 25, 2013, 08:35:40 AM »
OK, this is a very partial reply. I AM NOT IN YOUR WIFE'S FIELD (though I am in a related sector), NOR IN PA, SO TAKE EVERYTHING I SAY WITH A GRAIN OF SALT AND SOME DOUBLE-CHECKING! Hopefully some teachers can answer you with more details.

1) It seems pretty certain that the six years are years of service. This source seems reliable to me: http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/pa_certification/8635/level_i_to_level_ii/608790

2) From your post, it does not sound like your wife currently meets the requirement of "three years of satisfactory service on a Level I certificate,  verified by the chief school administrator of the employing school entity", so I do not think there's any rush to get the extra credits. The earliest time she'd be eligible to start (in the spring) accepts registration until December. You were right to smell salesmanship in her being rushed.

3) Concordia, as far as I can tell, is purely online if you are located in PA. It is, from what I can gather (but TRIPLE CHECK this), better regarded than Phoenix, but it adds to a general pattern of avoiding the classroom. Concordia is accredited in the Northwest, and you NEED to check how that will transfer to PA. If you cannot find the answer online, you need to call the department of education (from the page I linked above: Barb Seifert | Chief, Division of Certification Services, Pennsylvania Department of Education - 717.787.3356. Start from there and get transferred to the right person).

Now, something that worries me: your wife wants to do everything online, thinks professors didn't like her in college (she may be right, but it should also be an opportunity to ask herself why, esp. if it is a pattern. Did she avoid communicating with them?) She refuses to talk casually to people in her sector (they may not have the answers, but what does she have to lose? And they may introduce her to someone else who does have her answers!) She seems to have some anxiety that's restricting her choices. I agree with you that she would benefit from a professional network/support group, but she seems reluctant to create one.

The thing is: it's OK to have fears. It's fine to feel weird or inappropriate at networking--most people do. However, it sounds to me like she's not really exploring her options, and not necessarily making the best choices, partly because she's avoiding contact with people in her chosen profession, whether they are professors or colleagues. She shouldn't have her partner ask a bunch of random online strangers for information. You guys need to have a talk about this--you're here to support her, and you don't have to go all "though love" on her, but this needs airing. Acknowledge where she's coming from, and help her take responsibility for HER situation, if you can. Good luck!

Cinder

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Re: Advice for a starting teacher (my wife)
« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2013, 11:57:28 AM »
The thing is: it's OK to have fears. It's fine to feel weird or inappropriate at networking--most people do. However, it sounds to me like she's not really exploring her options, and not necessarily making the best choices, partly because she's avoiding contact with people in her chosen profession, whether they are professors or colleagues. She shouldn't have her partner ask a bunch of random online strangers for information. You guys need to have a talk about this--you're here to support her, and you don't have to go all "though love" on her, but this needs airing. Acknowledge where she's coming from, and help her take responsibility for HER situation, if you can. Good luck!


All very good points.  It is usually pretty hard for me to see things from her perspective sometimes, as I only applied to one school (and didn't make it in, but I made it into a branch campus and ended up there anyway), and found a job straight out of school, but Computer Engineering will do that for you.  I've also always found it pretty easy to communicate/network with people, even though I'm an INTP.  I never really looked at all of that together, in seeing that it may stem from the same common fear/anxiety/basis. 

She has mentioned that at the school where she is going to be a TA, she doesn't feel like she 'fits in' even though her fellow teachers seem to treat her with respect, but where she student taught (where she went to elementary school), she felt like she fit right in, and even was given a 'wink wink, nudge nudge, there is a position opening here' from the principal - It just wouldn't make sense to move back home for her teaching salary and give up my engineering salary.   

I have told her that's part of the reason that We've been trying to work toward saving a larger portion of our income, so if we wanted to do something like that we could.  She is also just very emotionally tied to our house and feels that being 2 hours away from family/'back home' is the right distance to visit and enjoy yourself but not get sucked into any local drama. 

I had brought up the point that not having the 3 years of service in, it wouldn't matter if she got a masters with the intent to get a Level II since that requirement wouldn't be met anyway, and then she said 'but I would have a masters' and I'm like 'You already do' and that's where I feel like she talks in circles with her UoP masters. 

She had a professor who basically said she couldn't/wouldn't ever make it as a teacher, and I was really proud of the progress she has been making.  Now that it is a 'we' and not a 'her', I'm just trying to make sure we have all the information about things before jumping into them. 

Thanks for all of your input!

impaire

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Re: Advice for a starting teacher (my wife)
« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2013, 12:58:14 PM »
Sorry to hear about that professor -- some people!!! How stupid of him/her. Clearly your wife is doing fine when she feels comfortable, so let's hope she can move up the confidence ladder!

One last note: on a purely financial level, delaying an expense while paying off loans makes sense, unless you're anticipating either the cost of the item or borrowing costs to go up significantly while you wait. You'd need to crunch numbers with the current rates on your loan, cost of the new education, loan rates, etc.

You'll need to make assumptions (for instance, superior education has been getting more expensive, but that may start changing soon with the rise of online degrees; plus you'd want to research if that's really the case for her specific needs. Borrowing rates are likely to get up in the next few years, but would a lower debt ration lower your borrowing costs? Etc.) Researching and discussing assumptions is great to build understanding between the two of us, so that may help. You'll also need to be clear about emotional benefits for both of you (wild guess: she wants to work towards her dream career--emotional benefit of feeling competent, ready, etc-- and you would like to see your debt down before taking on more loans, perhaps even build up money to NOT have to take loans on next time--emotional benefit of feeling freer, more in control, etc.), as well as other potential benefits of waiting (time to get better informed, time to evaluate your current commitments) or of moving on fast (no agonizing wait, free iPad... ;))

In short, I hope you guys can talk it out and learn to know each other even better in the process! Also let me guess: your wife is an __F_... Correct? Mind that F/T gap! ;)

bonjourliz

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Re: Advice for a starting teacher (my wife)
« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2013, 07:23:03 PM »
My mom was an elem teacher in PA for years.  When she tried to move to another district in PA (b/c my dad got a new job), she absolutely could not.  The principal actually told her that he couldn't/wouldn't hire her b/c he'd have to pay her so much more than a new teacher.  This was because the union contract said teachers with X experience and Y degree (she had her master's) must be paid a certain amount.  Naturally it was much more than a brand new teacher would be paid. 

Things may have changed; maybe a masters degree wouldn't be such a barrier to getting hired these days.  My mom's experience was 10-15yrs ago.  But, something to look into before she invests more time and money.

amyable

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Re: Advice for a starting teacher (my wife)
« Reply #7 on: July 26, 2013, 07:36:14 AM »
I'm not in PA, and in my location in Texas, I had a choice of several job offers when I first applied for teaching jobs, so this may not be relevant.

While the pay is usually terrible, if your end goal is to be a teacher, there are typically more networking opportunities for a teacher's aide or other paraprofessional than for a substitute.  If she gets an aide job, she can let people know that she's a trained teacher and is looking for work.  She will need to use this opportunity to network as much as possible.

She does not need more education--especially not online, where there are zero networking opportunities.  She needs to network!  One caveat:  If your state has "add-on" certifications, like ESL or Special Ed, I highly recommend going to a local college (where she could network) and taking the courses required for one of these "add-ons"--especially if it takes only 2-3 courses.  I tested into my ESL certification (no coursework necessary), and it has made me a much more desirable employee.  Many districts also offer a stipend for ESL and Special Ed teachers.


Cinder

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Re: Advice for a starting teacher (my wife)
« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2013, 07:48:22 AM »
One caveat:  If your state has "add-on" certifications, like ESL or Special Ed, I highly recommend going to a local college (where she could network) and taking the courses required for one of these "add-ons"--especially if it takes only 2-3 courses. 

This is the kind of thing that I was thinking she would do.  From what I understand, you used to be able to just test into certifications. 

She had taken all the classes you would have needed for an ESL cert while she was in undergrad, but she never got it and isn't sure why.  She has talked about looking into if she can utilize any of those prior classes.  You used to be able to just take a Praxis exam to test into the  certs, but that has been changed.  I think she may be confused between 'need to take 2-3 classes' and 'need to get a masters' for some of the requirements.

The PA Dept of Ed just changed a whole bunch of the way things work this past year, and even when you call up and talk to the people there (which takes hours of being on hold, within limited hours) they tend to get confused on things since it is still new.   

brand new stash

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Re: Advice for a starting teacher (my wife)
« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2013, 07:59:03 AM »
It sounds like she really needs an informational interview.  I recommend calling up the principal of a local elementary school, not with the goal of getting a job, but with the goal of learning about how hiring works.  Ask the principal if she can have 15 minutes of her time to ask question about the teacher process.  Ask about the masters program, ask what the principal thinks she needs to do as next steps, ask if there is anyone the principal recommends she talks to.  DO NOT ask for a job there and stick to the time alotted.   Then write a very nice thank you note for the meeting, and follow up with anyone that the principal recommends she talks to.   

Gerard

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Re: Advice for a starting teacher (my wife)
« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2013, 09:24:34 AM »
I'm going to take a negative tone here (not ideal for MMM, but bear with me).

Some of these issues are why I decided not to stay in education after getting my B.Ed. Finding a full-time permanent teaching job is *very* much based on experience, knowledge, contacts, and flexibility, rather than formal credentials (and even there, nobody's ever going to say "Oooooh! University of Phoenix!"). That means lots of networking, and grabbing any job offered, even if it's in a different subfield, part-time, and/or in a different community. There are people who are excellent at those things and flexible enough to do them. I wasn't one of them, so I bailed.

Some warning signs coming from your sweetie: hasn't really looked into figuring out ESL cert, did an MA (at a crap school) before getting experience or an employer to pay for it, had low GPA in undergrad, didn't do placement in UG, professors "didn't like her", professor told her she wouldn't be a good teacher, doesn't feel she fits in at TA school, doesn't want to move. All of these are barriers and/or diagnostics. They could all stem from anxiety (or fear of failure), but they could also be signs that this is not for her.

(fwiw, I eventually ended up with a good job elsewhere, in which my teaching training actually helps me out a lot!)

DougStache

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Re: Advice for a starting teacher (my wife)
« Reply #11 on: July 26, 2013, 10:01:24 AM »
My wife is in a similar situation: trained in music education, but is having a hell of a time finding a full time teaching gig.  I swear, teachers (especially band directors) stay in their positions until they die.  I feel for you.

She has been getting close with a lot of important people in the district, and proving herself quite well / getting a lot of good sources for recommendations.  But she's about to start her third year of subbing without even getting an interview so we're starting to take a slightly different approach; many would say it's more mustachian. 

It has always been her dream job to start a business that teaches music lessons.  Once we eventually FIRE, I believe this is would be exactly what she would want to do with her new found free time.  So we're taking advantage of the flexibility of substitute teaching and the low start up costs of teaching lessons, and she's starting her dream job now and doing everything possible to build a base of clients.

Is there anything similar your wife can do to take advantage of the enormous flexibility of substitute teaching?

impaire

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Re: Advice for a starting teacher (my wife)
« Reply #12 on: July 26, 2013, 10:07:24 AM »
It sounds like she really needs an informational interview.  I recommend calling up the principal of a local elementary school, not with the goal of getting a job, but with the goal of learning about how hiring works.  Ask the principal if she can have 15 minutes of her time to ask question about the teacher process.  Ask about the masters program, ask what the principal thinks she needs to do as next steps, ask if there is anyone the principal recommends she talks to.  DO NOT ask for a job there and stick to the time alotted.   Then write a very nice thank you note for the meeting, and follow up with anyone that the principal recommends she talks to.   

+1 on all of this.

TrulyStashin

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Re: Advice for a starting teacher (my wife)
« Reply #13 on: July 26, 2013, 09:10:44 PM »

Some warning signs coming from your sweetie: hasn't really looked into figuring out ESL cert, did an MA (at a crap school) before getting experience or an employer to pay for it, had low GPA in undergrad, didn't do placement in UG, professors "didn't like her", professor told her she wouldn't be a good teacher, doesn't feel she fits in at TA school, doesn't want to move. All of these are barriers and/or diagnostics. They could all stem from anxiety (or fear of failure), but they could also be signs that this is not for her.

(fwiw, I eventually ended up with a good job elsewhere, in which my teaching training actually helps me out a lot!)

+1 on this. 

Former teacher here (1994-2008, HS social studies).  Granted, it was in the mid-90's but I graduated with a BA in Pol. Science without a single education class under my belt.  Shortly afterward, I decided I wanted to teach so I met with the certification expert for the school system in the county where I lived and figured out exactly what other classes I needed to get a social studies certificate (9 credits) and how many hours of education credits I needed (15).  I took exactly and only what I needed at various community colleges/ universities near me while substitute teaching.  It took me a year, including summer terms, and by the time I was certified the principals knew me from my subbing work and I had two offers for full time teaching.

Some qualities that teaching absolutely requires include:  resilience, tenacity, a tendency toward optimism as a default, independence, and the ability to figure out and navigate opaque/ bureaucratic systems with little or no help.  To a degree, these qualities can be learned or acquired but the best teachers have these as innate facets of their personalities.   I hate to say it, but with the information you've given, I'm not seeing these qualities in your wife which is maybe why one of her professors said she wouldn't make it.  It also seems that when she encounters barriers, her solution seems to be avoiding the problem (by taking more unnecessary classes) rather than digging in and finding a solution.  Of course, you know her well and I'm sure there is much about her that is not revealed in your posts.

If you can find a way to gently say "no way" to Concordia (what a scam!) and get her to refocus on doing a great job at the opportunity that is before her and networking toward fresh opportunities then you'd be doing her a good turn.  At some point, she has to stop using education to avoid life.

Sorry if this is harsh.  I don't mean to be a hard ass just for the sake of it, but this is my honest take on what you've posted.


   

Cinder

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Re: Advice for a starting teacher (my wife)
« Reply #14 on: March 20, 2015, 07:58:43 PM »
I'm going to necro this, but since it's my own thread I'm sure it's ok...

Update on the situation...

Talked her out of Concordia.
She found out that the ESL classes she took at her undergrad DID count for an ESL certification, but normally the school puts it in for you when you get your cert (she didn't though undergrad).  She contacted PA Dept of Ed, and has that cert now. 

For 2013~2014, she was an assistant at a charter school in our area. She had put in a lot of time and effort into that  She had put in her interest in the teaching positions when they came available, but she didn't even get an interview that year. 

We had a lot of discussion about it, and we wanted her to go sub and network in the other schools around our area since she was just passed over at her current location. 

She ended up deciding to stay with the charter school as an Assistant for another year instead of getting on the sub list across the whole district.  She has had a lot more responsibility this year, and has some chances to prove herself this year.  She apparently had one teacher who gave her a very negative review, but it was one of the teachers that was in the grade she was in the first year, but she didn't really work with her (the other Assistant was mostly in her room).

We're now getting toward the point where she is back on the ' I HAVE to start taking classes, we don't get enough continuing education hours' thing again. 

I have been telling her it would be best to wait till she has a job as a lead teacher, where she has a chance of her employ covering part of her costs.   She also keeps saying that 'you need X hours/credits, and by the time you get those you almost have a masters so you should just get it out of the way'. 

Are there any educators familiar with the PA system? What I want to do is figure out exactly what she needs, by when, and plan it out.  It seems silly to go for a masters without being in an actual teaching job, and it would seem prudent to only take the minimum number of things, paid out of her own pocket, for continuing education until she is actually in a job where she IS teaching, and we know it will be a bump up in pay. 

Dee18

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Re: Advice for a starting teacher (my wife)
« Reply #15 on: March 21, 2015, 12:37:09 PM »
Have you talked with your wife about why the teacher at the charter school gave her a negative review and why an education professor said she was not cut out to be a teacher?  The review must have included reasons.  Do those reasons make sense to you? When I hear someone say they had bad grades because teachers "did not like them" or "were not helpful," I cringe.  I teach at a college and in my experience when students say such things the student is not owning his or her part of the failure.  For example, I had a student tell my secretary that I did not like the student.  My secretary knew the full story and said, "yes, Professor X is annoyed with you for being late to more than half the classes since you interrupt the seminar with your late arrivals." I don't know what the reasons are in your wife's case, but she need to figure those out and deal with them.  Perhaps she could sort them out by talking with a professional counselor.

Cinder

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Re: Advice for a starting teacher (my wife)
« Reply #16 on: March 23, 2015, 06:43:02 PM »
Have you talked with your wife about why the teacher at the charter school gave her a negative review and why an education professor said she was not cut out to be a teacher?  The review must have included reasons.  Do those reasons make sense to you?

We talked with one of the two teachers she is working with this year (she came over to visit for a movie) , and initially she was worried because of what she had heard before, but she sees her as harder working and more helpful then any other assistant she has had.  My wife is teaching one of the math groups this year, and she goes above and beyond on her responsibilities.   

As for the professors at the university that 'didn't like' her, she went to a very small college, and there were some professors that she tried to go to their office hours, but they always cancelled them.  There were some classes where she knew a way to solve some of the problems from talking with her uncle or the way she learned in highschool, and she had to solve them exactly the way the professor taught, or else they'd be marked wrong. 

Her adviser was one of the people who 'didn't like her' and her GPA was just below what was needed for being able to student teach and get her teaching certificate.  Her adviser didn't even tell her that she could have taken other classes to pull her average up and still qualify.  When she graduated and had special mention for her involvement in one of the sports at the school, she said 'At least you were good at something' when she shook her hand after she got her diploma. 

-------

Here's something else that's ridiculous.  She's called up the PA Dept of Ed, and they say they cannot tell her if her classes she took with UoP would count toward Act 48 hours, they 'won't know till she puts in an application'.  She doesn't want to get stuck not having enough act 48 hours by the time she needs them, and as an assistant she doesn't get many opportunities.

I tried to suggest that she try to go to some of the classes here and there that count for act 48 hours, but she's saying 'If I'm going to pay for them, they may as well do something for me'.  She wants to go take a Reading Specialist cert program.  I can't help but feel this is similar to what I've seen in other threads, the 'I have to buy a new car b/c I can't fit 3 carseats in the back', followed by 'you know you can fit three, you just have to buy the right kind'. 

Any one have any recommendations to try to actually get an answer from PDE to actually get the answer if her other UoP credits would count (they're all 500 level courses, but she got her teaching certificate by taking those classes). 


Also, how much more would she be likely to get paid with vs without having a reading specialist certification?  What's the RoI?  She has her ESL cert, and she says that combined with the reading specalist cert would 'make her look better'. 

I tried to bring up that other things would/should 'make her look better', like networking, getting to know the right people and getting your name in, but we are in an area where there is one large university and one med university nearby, and there is a very heavy weighting of people who student teach here actually getting teaching positions, and because she didn't go though one of those schools, she was unable to student teach here and lived with a family friend in a smaller district to actually get her student teaching in. 

MayDay

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Re: Advice for a starting teacher (my wife)
« Reply #17 on: March 23, 2015, 07:17:04 PM »
I don't have the best, most complete answer to the reading specialist thing, but I would say you are expected as an elementary ed teacher to have some of those things, either reading special ed seem the most common.

In general, around here (OH) special ed seems to always be needed so I would lean towards that specialization.