Questions about Teaching Career

<p>If one is going to become either an elementary school teacher (k-8), or a special education teacher (k-12), is better to go for a BS in education/special education, or a liberal arts degee (BS), and then go for a masters in education? When I say "better", I am asking about: ease with which one finds a job (do public schools prefer to hire a person with a BS, or a BS and masters), and also from the teacher's economic point of view. Is it better to get a BS, and perhaps get a job for 1-2 years while living free with parents just to pay down some student loans (probably around 25,000), and then proceed to accumulate more debt in masters program (instate in today's $ runs 18,000, and I believe and would need to be financed). Would it be better to get a BS in education or special education and then try to find a job teaching in a public school, and do a long term plan towards a masters while working full time?</p>

<p>Depending on where you live, you will need to obtain a Masters for continued employment. Since most of the courses are given after school so it is in the best interest of the new graduate to secure a job.</p>

<p>I would suggest looking in your area to see if there are any incentives for teachers.</p>

<p>In NYC is does not matter whether you get a BA or BS in education, you will still have to pass the CST (content speciality test) the LAST (Liberal Arts and Science Test) and the ATWS (writing) before you are able to be employed (this is usually done as part of the teacher education program).</p>

<p>I will talk to the process here in NYC. If you teach in a shortage area, math and sciences there are incentive programs that will pay for your masters in these areas. In addition, if you work for a low performing school, you can get incentives in the form of scholarships, loan forgiveness, housing, etc.</p>

<p>for example: If you work in an underserved area you can get $$ through teach for tomorrow (3500 per year for 4 years) that can be used toward your student loans. In addition you will get $5000 in your 5th year from sallie mae to reduce your loans.</p>

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<p>sybbie, thanks. I know about the $$ in teaching in certain school districts. </p>

<p>The question is whether to go with a BS in education, and then get a masters right after, or while employed as a teacher, or whether to get a BS in liberal arts, and then continue for a masters in education, and the various financial implications as listed above, and better route to secure a job in teaching.</p>


<p>Have you investigated UTEP programs? Students attend liberal arts colleges, major in one field like other students, but also take some education classes and do a practicum. A friend of S, who is a math major, has gone this route.</p>

<p>marite, I just sent a PM since since it just simpler for me.</p>

<p>Dear northeastmom: If the goal definitely is Special Ed /Elementary Ed, I would say get the bachelor's degree in Education and go to work right away. PS, the "long-term" goal for a Master's that you mention may not be up to you, some states at least are going to DICTATE the timing. With the specialties you mention, I really don't believe having a Master's right off the bat (as a new person entering the profession) is going to affect your job prospects very much. In my own state, Special Ed graduates can have their pick of jobs pretty much and I believe that for the most part the elementary ed people don't much care about how deep your academic subject matter knowledge is, they are more concerned about how you handle kids.</p>

<p>PS, about whether getting a job right away or living at home and getting a Master's is better financially: you will clearly make more money by going to work right away. the difference in pay between having or not having a Master's is not really huge. Certainly a lot less than making a bachelors' salary vs. making zip! And when you do get your Master's you will still make more than you would if you had waited to go to work, because you'll have 2-3 years of seniority under your belt in addition to the Masters'.</p>

<p>It varies from state to state, but in general if you are teaching below middle school, you need an Elementary Ed degree to be hired, so it will definitely be faster to get that degree as an undergrad.
I come from a big family of teachers, and the word I always heard was go out and work. Nothing you learn in college truly prepares you for the classroom, and there are a number of new teachers that rapidly realize they have made the wrong choice. Think about having gone for a Masters, and THEN realizing that you have made a bad choice.</p>

<p>I recently finished my Master's for teaching. I received a liberal arts degree MANY years ago. I agree that an undergrad education degree is the way to go. Not only can you work and earn money while in grad school, but I think you are better prepared for the upper level coursework. I felt at a disadvantage because I did not have undergrad ed classes and the majority of my classmates did. I often felt that I had nothing to add to class discussions because I did not have teaching experience.</p>

<p>In my recent job search, I've seen many postings for Special Ed teachers. The jobs do not require a Master's, just state certification.</p>

<p>^^I understand the concerns you raise, cangel, but I want to add some info points.
In New York, anyways, elementary teachers do not need an elementary degree (if you meant a major as an undergrad) to be hired. You can major in anything and get a B.A., then follow it up with a one-year Master of Arts in Teaching with Elementary Certification. At that point, you can be hired.
Since I did it that way, I'm pretty sure about my next sentence but would want someone else to verify it: if you only have the undergrad degree and get hired, you are expected to complete your masters within the first few years you are working as a fulltime teacher.</p>

<p>But it is SO hard, that first year of teaching! When I saw younger teachers around me who were doing it the second way described above, I felt sorry for them. They finished teaching, ran off to grad school classes, had homework from grad school, and were under great pressure at their schools to perform well in their first year to be eligible for tenure. I finished off my Masters in a year, but they all took several, with part-time and summer courses. Of course, I had kids and they didn't, but still it looked very hard to me, what they were doing.</p>

<p>If someone has the chance to do it, I'd vote for a year to do the Masters degree without simultaneous pressure to work the fulltime job. Also, you'd have the benefit of the springtime Practice Teaching before you even enter your own classroom. Often people use their springtime practice teaching posts to network for their first job the following fall. </p>

<p>Cangel, I know that most teachers say "nothing you learn in college truly prepares you for the classroom" but I disagree, even with a minority voice. If you have an appreciation for theory and new pedagogy, it is great to be supported by professors of education. While they don't fully "get" the realities of the school, the school is usually behind the times in terms of newest methods. It's exciting to enter a school as a new teacher with some ideas to try out, even if they don't all work out as imagined from the classroom. Most of the activities in the masters program are hands-on, not papers, and the evaluation from professors is easier to take than from new colleagues, because it's aimed at increasing your range and not just fitting into one school's culture. </p>

<p>I do agree that it'd be a shame to go all the way past the Masters degree and then realize it's a wrong choice. The way to end-run that tragedy is to
work as a teacher's aide in a summer tutoring/reading remediation program held at an elementary school; or shadow a working teacher for one week during a spring break during undergrad years. I think that a person would know, after one 40-hour week (ha! it;s more), start-to-finish, Mon-Fri, all school hours, whether it's for them or not. You can't tell by visiting school for just a few hours; it's too easy to be charmed that way. After a week, see if you have the emotional and physical stamina for it. If you help as assigned in the classroom for the week, you'll see what it's all about (don't just sit in the corner and watch, in other words). It's also possible to do this with a different day in each classroom, to see different teachers' styles, but you'll know the kids better if you stay in one room all week. An elementary principal, if approached by someone with possible serious career interest, can often set this up in the school and know which teachers would be amenable to it.</p>

<p>I didn't like most of my grad school education courses, btw.</p>

<p>I agree with weldon, get the initial certification which you will have once graduating with a degree in education, then going to work. </p>

<p>The 2 years spent on working on the masters if you decide to go straight through) and being out of the workforce, you are trading off tenure and seniority (which the person who got hired straight out of school and then did the masters would have.</p>

<p>for example in NYC:
Person "A" is teacher coming straight out of college and has a starting salary of with $44,869. If they get their masters at the end of the second year. When the raises come in the fall of the 3rd year, this person will bump up to $51, 102.</p>

<p>Person B goes straight through and comes in with a masters and no experience, the starting salary is $50,353 .</p>

<p>person A is ahead of the game because they have gained 2 years seniority and is 1 year from obtaining tenure (which they will have at the end of the
3rd year).</p>

<p>In addition they have had the benefit of earning $44,869, in year one and 45,224 in year 2 while person B is earning nothing.</p>

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<p>I agree with Sybbie. I asked a friend who is in the administration in our school district about what they look for when they hire a new teacher. She said THE most important thing was experience in teaching, not whether the person had a bachelors or masters. In fact, one can get a masters degree without having any more student teaching experiences. In Pennsylvania the salary is decided by your degree and then any classes you have taken. It's in the union contract.</p>

<p>For example, a new teacher with just a bachelors would get $40,000. A teacher with a Bachelors plus 15 credits gets $45,000. So if a district wants to hire a new teacher and they have two candidates with equal teaching experience and everything else is equal, they would choose the candidate with the least amount of education so the salary would be less.</p>

<p>Once you start working for a district you must take classes but you will get reimbursed for them. I don't think that is 100% reimbursement any more but it's not full pay as long as you get a C or above. Besides, once you get a masters the salary takes a nice jump.</p>

<p>Special ed is great field to get into with the NCLB in effect. NEMom, I assume you are just talking about NJ, which could be different then PA. In PA, elementary ed is certified K-6. If the student is going out of state for an ed degree it's extremely important to find out about the state reciprocity agreements early on.</p>

<p>Just want to say thank you for all of the guidance here and for the PMs. It has all been very helpful!</p>