I don’t know if this could be a federal law or just have to be 50 state laws. Let’s have it be both so that we never have to deal with the BS I’m about to deal with.
So I went to go renew my teaching certificate today. It was a fairly painless process but I was reminded that I need to get more hours of “professional development” before my next renewal in six years.
Let me run down what I’ve had to do so far to get my credential in Arizona.
I had to have a credential in another state (I had two, California and Washington, they have since expired). To get the Washington Credential I had to earn a degree in English, minor in Education, pass a background check, and complete a student teaching program.
I had to have 60 hours of Structured English Immersion training. (60 hours of learning how to help students for who English is not their first language…it boils down to having some idiot tell you to treat high school students like elementary school kids with lots of games and visuals. It was 60 hours of my life that was wasted and I’ll never get back. Actually more than 60 if you count travel time.)
45 more hours of professional development. More being told to draw and act out and play with high school students. I have never used a single thing I learned in any of this because to do so would be to insult the intelligence of the slowest student I’ve ever had. I’m an English teacher, not one of these hours was dedicated to learning anything about English, grammar, writing, or literature above a 3rd grade level. Given that I primarily teach Juniors and Seniors this was all but another 45 hours of my life that was wasted.
I had to take a test on English Literature. The SAT’s were harder. And given that I have a degree in English from one of the best colleges in the nation, this too was insulting. 3 hours of my life wasted. Plus the money I had to pay to take the test.
I had to take a test on teaching skills. It was half vocab test and half what would you do in this situation questions. A trained monkey could have passed it. More money and more time wasted.
And my favorite, I had to take a test on the U.S. and Arizona state Constitutions. Because that’s relevant to my job as a teacher of English (primarily British literature if I have anything to say about it). There was actually a question about the article in the AZ state Constitution that deals with mining rights. HOW IN THE NAME OF GOD WOULD AN OBSCURE ARTICLE IN A STATE CONSTITION BE RELEVANT TO MY SKILLS TO TEACH?!!!! More time and money wasted.
Just about the only legitimate thing I had to do since leaving Washington was A) complete two years of teaching full time, and B) get my background check renewed.
Everything else was an utter waste of my time.
The tests, the hours of professional development, all worthless. Now I might respect the tests if they had been relevant to teaching, but they weren’t. Just about anyone who went to college should be able to pass those tests (of course I do live in Arizona, home of ASU)
Teaching is an art, not a science. There is no way to test on paper whether someone is going to be a good teacher or not. Yes, there are some basic classes that everyone needs. They need classes in their subject area. They need at least one class in every subject they will not be teaching (the four subject primary and secondary education are English, History/Social Sciences, Science, and Math). They need classes in general psychology and developmental psychology. They probably need at least one class in acting because good classroom teaching involves putting on a persona that is not necessarily who you are in real life. You need a course or two in curriculum development and implementation. And maybe a course on the history and philosophy of education. There, that’s your major and minor right there.
But no, states all seem to think you need more and more and more useless “professional development” which develops nothing. You know what actually develops a teacher? Teaching! Actual teaching. It’s an art form; the only way you get better at it is by actually doing it, followed by moments of reflection and discussion with other teachers. But certainly not so-called professional development! Now I’ve been lucky and the schools I have worked for have provided this requirement for their teachers (at great cost to the company) but if you aren’t so lucky then you have to take college courses at your own expense (courses which will likely teach a teacher nothing!). So really it’s all a big scam for the colleges and states, they get to charge money for all these courses.
Do you think all this worthless education, much of it at your own expense, is going to drive out some people from the field? Probably does. Not the great teachers, no. They’ll stay because to them teaching ranks up there with breathing and water as basic needs. And it doesn’t drive out the incompetent teachers either, because they usually know they have nowhere else to go…but it drives out all of the mid-level teachers—the ones who may never inspire a student, will get the job done and teach something. You think that may have any negative repercussions…like not being able to fire the morons because you can’t replace them with anything other than another idiot.
Trust me teaching hasn’t changed much in the last few thousand years. One of the single best forms of teaching is called Socratic Discussion, it was a form of teaching used in fifth century BCE by Socrates, it hasn’t changed much since then. You don’t need to be caught up on studies or professional journals; you just need to be passionate and self-reflective.
All these piles of requirements and tests and professional development and hoops and money are a farce. States need to change their requirements to be as follows:
A) B.A. or higher in the field you’re teaching (or at least it’s tangentially related).
B) An education minor
C) A background check every few years
D) Completing a student teaching program
And for that you get a provisional certificate.
Add on three years of teaching experience and you’ve got a life time certificate because this is not something that needs to be renewed ever. If you knew it at one point you will know it until senility fully sets in.
States, get rid of all this BS….oh and make all teaching certificates for all 50 states completely reciprocal in all states.