I made the decision to pursue art ed certification starting in '88 and found
the first snag--as a single mom I didn't have time to take more than 1 class
per semester, and yet because I was only taking one class, I didn't qualify
for financial assistance. And yet as a single mom, I didn't have the MONEY
to pay for college courses out of pocket on a regular basis, so I had to
take classes when I could afford to. I finally finished all course work and
practica (practicums?)--with the exception of student teaching --in 1996!!
I took National Teacher Exams the same year.
In '92 I'd started working as a TA in an elementary school, figuring it
would be a good foot in the door. HOWEVER, since I hadn't student taught I
was, therefore, uncertified, and I simply could NOT get a teaching position.
In this district as well as others in this area, competition is fierce and
certification is simply required....
I watched some very young, right out of college certified art teachers get
jobs, and it was frustrating because I knew I had so much more classroom
experience (like 7 years in an elementary school by that point, as well as
years in therapeutic rec, etc., etc.).
And yes--I tried to have the state waive part of the student teaching
requirements based on my daily classroom experience. I also went beyond the
# of hours that were required for practicums. I even "volunteered" to
student teach over the course of a YEAR in the afternoons at the high
school/middle school level (since the day is longer). But there was no
flexibility with the "system," and the bottom line was that I couldn't quit
my (part time) job as a TA for 4 months in order to do traditional student
Incidentally, I'd figured up that it would cost me about $8000 to student
teach between what I'd lose in income, what I'd have to pay to keep my
insurance going--even if I could work it as a leave of absence--and what I'd
have to pay for student teaching (as a course). Again, as a single mom,
this was just out of the question.
This year I was hired by a private school as a middle/high school art
teacher. FINALLY I'm teaching, though it's taken me 11 years to accomplish
this!! And the best part about this is that since I'm teaching at an
ACCREDITED private school, I will qualify for certification after this year.
(And go figure--just after I'd accepted the position at the private school,
I got 2 calls from public schools asking me to interview for positions. I
wasn't interested at that point, plus I'd already signed the contract.)
While I'm not sure I'll jump back into the public school arena once I'm
certified, at least I know that I'll be more competitive in this and in
surrounding school districts.
I'm all for making sure that art teachers are very well qualified and feel
very strongly that they should have some art ed classes including various
methods classes, etc, under their belt. However, from my experience, I can
also say that lack of certification does not necessarily mean that someone
is unqualified to be a teacher.