Paving the roadmap to K-12 teaching

Sometimes the most helpful thing one can do is ask questions. This was a running theme for the “Becoming a Teacher K-12” workshop hosted by the California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) MAESTROs program on Feb. 26 . The event was developed through the Hispanic Serving Institutions program to support Latinx and Hispanic students embarking on the journey to become teachers. 

The workshop focused on the timeline and necessary steps to be taken to fulfill the requirements for a K-12 teaching position. Facilitated by MAESTROs Project Manager Margaret Dominguez, Project Counselor Angela Serrano and Field Placement Coordinator Alma Uribe, the hosts provided a poll to gauge the grade level interests of event participants. 

The largest majority were those looking into elementary school, followed by high school, rounded out by a small percentage of folks wishing to be middle school teachers. The hosts invited viewers to think about their preferred grade level for teaching, as well as becoming a Special Education teacher, and also to note the different levels have specific qualifications and processes. Serrano urged folks in high school or at the community college level to stay in contact with their counselors and let them know that they are interested in becoming teachers. 

“There are specific courses, especially here at CSUMB, that you need to take before coming to make your transfer process as smooth as possible,” Serrano said.

Prospective elementary and middle school teachers should follow a liberal studies route. Prospective high school teachers follow a single-subject pathway of the desired course they will eventually teach. Serrano also urged students to take advantage of any teacher clubs on campus.

Also discussed were the standardized exams that prospective teachers are required to take. This includes the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) and the California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET). Those who are liberal studies majors and liberal studies integrated credential (ITEP) students qualify for a CSET waiver, but all must take the CBEST prior to beginning a credential program. 

There are several necessary requirements prior to starting a credential program. MAESTROs recommended gathering needed requirements a year in advance to ensure enough time to fulfill them. 

These requirements include, but are not limited to, completing a bachelor’s degree with at least a 2.67 GPA, passing CBEST and CSET scores – or a CSET waiver – 40 to 50 hours of verified experience working with youth and several other requirements. Additionally, students are eligible to substitute teach with emergency 30-day substitute teaching permits. They also discussed the various credential pathways, including co-teaching, which requires two semesters of co-teaching alongside a veteran teacher in a co-teaching placement. 

Several tests need to be taken during the credential program, including the Spanish CSET III or CSET exams for those seeking a bilingual authorization. It was noted that some schools pay more for a bilingual authorization, allowing teachers to work in dual-language immersion schools or work with English learning children. At CSUMB, the bilingual authorization is typically earned in a set of courses after finishing the credential program, offered through extended education. Teaching credentials take five years to clear and then must be renewed every five years after that, where teachers only have to pay a renewal fee. 

An important takeaway is a person co-teaching or fulfilling their intern year is more likely to be hired at the same school they’re interning at. It’s vital to ask other teachers how they feel about the school environment and the various programs the schools offer. It’s also recommended to attend all available workshops and information sessions. 

The event also included Anayeli Gomez-Ruiz – currently a secondary education credential student. Gomez-Ruiz advised participants to break down the pre-credential requirements into small tasks to avoid becoming overwhelmed. She is currently co-teaching and recommends the method because it “gets your foot in the door.” 

Also featured was Melanie Maravilla – a multiple subject credential student who is completing her intern year – who graduated with her bachelor’s degree in 2014. Both Gomez-Ruiz and Maravilla emphasized the importance of building strong connections with the families and students being taught. 

“Don’t worry, you can do it,” Maravilla said. “It takes a while, but it’s worth it.” 

In regards to the financial aspects of completing these programs, the panelists offered some reassurances. They mentioned there are residencies available to teachers working in Title I schools and various grants and scholarships, dependent on completing a certain number of years teaching in a lower income area. 

As for which pathway to choose, Dominguez said everyone’s journey to teaching is personalized. “It’s really about what’s best for you in your circumstances,” she said. 

Future teachers should remain in constant communication with their counselors and advisors to discover what program will truly work best for them. The MAESTROs program can be found on Instagram @maestroscsumb and reached via email at [email protected] More information can be found at csumb.edu/education/maestros. 

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