Transparency in Teaching (Stuff) Podcast

022 What does a Teaching Credential Really Prove?

The National Center for Education Statistics reported that in the 2017-18 school year there were 3.3 million full and part-time traditional public school teachers. That is the most recent count available. That’s a lot of college tuition and credentialing fees. So does all the investment in a piece of paper that supposedly certifies a person is a competent teacher really mean anything? What does a teaching credential really prove?

Every state requires public school teachers to jump through the hoops to earn a credential. This usually means earning a bachelor’s degree, performing a few months of practice teaching, and passing a test or two. In my humble, 34 years of experience, opinion, the way colleges prepare teachers for life in a real classroom lacks enough real experience. Course work and student teaching hardly mimic what it is really like to be in charge of one’s own group of pre-formed student minds.

I remember my first year of teaching. I cried a lot. Like every day. My then-husband would pat me on the back and say, “You’ll be Ok. We need the money,” as he guided me out the door.  I was the first one on campus and the last one to leave. I brought home a box of work and papers to grade every night. More than the sheer weight of the responsibility of imbuing knowledge into middle school minds was the struggle with classroom discipline. That, more than anything else, was the biggest headache of my early career. I don’t remember anything in my credential courses that prepared me for that!

Earning a credential does not a good teacher make! Jen, Sharyn, and I talk about what it takes to get a credential. We discuss what it means, and more importantly, what it doesn’t mean. Of course, as always, we give our suggestions as to how to fix the credential process.

If you’re considering a teaching career, this is a definite “must listen.” And if you’ve already gone through the gauntlet, I’m sure you’ll be doing a lot of head nodding in agreement. If we can only pass on these brilliant suggestions to those credential gatekeepers, we might lower the number of new teachers who turn in their classroom keys when they figure out what it really means to be a teacher.

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