Dr. Lynn Friedman: Clinical Psychologist

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Teaching High School Without Certification

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Dr. Lynn Friedman: Psychologist, Psychoanalyst
Dear Dr. Friedman:
I am a senior biology major. Over the last few months I have been thinking that I might enjoy a career in high school teaching. I spoke with a professor in the School of Education, about this interest, he advised me that in order to teach I would have to obtain certification. I have only a semester remaining. Obtaining certification will require an additional year and a half of school. I am uneasy about assuming the additional debt especially since I am not 100% sure about committing myself to this goal. How might I test out this interest? Must I really be certified in order to teach?

Not fully committed

Dear Not Fully:
Actually, I do have a couple of thoughts. In order to test-out your interest and to qualify yourself for a teaching job, you should obtain tutoring and teaching experience. These activities will allow you to establish contacts and to develop some preliminary teaching skills.

Also, there is indeed a way to test out your interest in teaching without obtaining certification. You can teach at an independent (formerly known as "private") school. In order to credential yourself for such a position, you need to do well academically, obtain tutoring, teaching and/or summer camp experience. Also, these schools typically require faculty to coach a sport or two. So, successful experience on the playing field is a real asset. Similarly, experience in clubs and activities such as the newspaper or the chorus as well as a willingness to coach these activities is a real advantage.

Applying to these schools, in many ways, is easier than tapping the public school market, particularly if you are not too picky about location. There are two companies that will market you to potential schools, they are Carney Sandoe in Boston and Independent Educational Services in Arlington, Virginia. Carney Sandoe is free to the applicant. IES charges a nominal fee. Before interviewing you should make it your business to obtain the school's public relations materials. Be sure to look the part. If you are a graduate of an independent school yourself that will be an advantage. Also, it might be helpful to arrange to visit an independent school and talk to people who teach in one so that you can become familiar with how they operate. You may also want to check out the National Association of Independent Schools and Teach for America. Also, many places, including New York City, hire without certification. Look into obtaining temporary certification.

Good luck.

Dr. Friedman

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