Daily Archives: December 30, 2013

Is Alternative Certification Really an Option?

Our blog has included a number of posts about our longitudinal research on teachers. All of the teachers in our study completed a full teacher certification program yet many faced real struggles. Although we know that teaching is a very demanding profession, the clamor for Alternative Certification programs seems to be increasing. Alt Cert programs are flourishing in many countries which to me defies reason. I read a really interesting blog about a young teacher who was part of Teach for America (TFA) corps – her TFA program had 5 weeks of training. The title of the blog captured my interest: Tell-All From A TFA and KIPP Teacher: Unprepared, Isolation, Shame, and Burnout. Here the link to it:  http://cloakinginequity.com/2013/12/29/tell-all-from-a-tfa-and-kipp-teacher-unprepared-isolation-shame-and-burnout/
The blog by reflections, video clips of TFA recruitment, and some stats. It is really interesting.  Here are two excerpts from the new teacher’s reflections which I found heartbreaking:
Unpreparedness for the Classroom
The 5-week summer session at Rice University was a fast-paced, well-run training session, but it was not enough to prepare me to lead my own classroom in my first year.  While I learned valuable techniques and tools to become a teacher, it certainly did not equip me for creating systems in my classroom, writing unit plans, and creating valuable assessment. Five weeks was not enough to create the type of magic that Teach For America describes in its vision.  Training was like leading us to the top of a cliff before we had to jump off into the reality of our own classrooms. All I can say is the mountain was high and the fall was hard.
Shame has a terrible place in this organization.  I never believed that shame would become a motivator in my Teach for America experience, but shame holds onto the necks of many Corps members.  Placing young college graduates in some of the toughest teaching situations with 5 weeks of training has negative repercussions on the mind, body, and soul of Corps members.  The message is “If only I were stronger, smarter and more capable, I could handle this. I would be able to save my students.”  Unfortunately, TFA intentionally or unintentionally preys on this shame to push Corps members to their limits to create “incredible” classrooms and “transformative” lesson plans. Would these things be good for our students? Of course.  Is shame a sustainable method for creating and keeping good teachers in the classroom? Absolutely not. It is defeating and draining.

Thanks Julian for your blog. After reading the blog can anyone actually say, that Alt Cert is a viable option? I think not. Clare