I just signed up to take the Praxis exams on Biology and Chemistry. These are content knowledge exams for those who are interested in teaching these subjects at the High School level. I’ve been teaching biology for several years and have been immersed in it for about fifteen years before that, so I’m not terribly worried about that one (although I may need to read up on some botany, as I largely ignore it in my classes – my apologies to any botanists out there.) Despite some low-level understanding of chemistry and familiarity with organic chemistry, it does worry me. There’s a lot of potential information to cover and I have about three weeks to get re-acquainted with the subject.
Why am I doing this? A good question. Because adjunct teaching is neither fulfilling (you never feel a part of something, but merely an add-on), nor rewarding (financially).
-Whoa! Wait a minute, doc. You’re not seriously thinking of teaching in a High School as a way to get paid well, are you?
No. Just paid.
Kansas has what it calls an ‘alternative pathway’ to a ‘restricted’ teaching certification. It’s designed for professionals with strong backgrounds in math and science, and are interested in a career change to teaching.
It’s heavily advertised on the radio here (at least on NPR, the non-profit, public radio station). However, most school administrators I’ve spoken with are unaware of the program.
Further, I’ve also heard that taking on educators with restricted licenses means that these teachers cannot qualify as
In order to get into the program (in addition to the classes you’ve taken in the subject’s content), you have to:
- pass these Praxis exams to prove you actually do know the content and not just a dusty piece of paper from University.
- Find a school that needs you
- Get that school to provisionally hire you
- Enroll in a program to earn your certification while you teach.
So far, I’ve signed up to take the exams and found a school that is willing to entertain the idea of taking me on so long as I can teach both biology and chemistry.
What is not entirely clear to me is whether these restricted licenses are considered ‘full’ licensure. The ‘No Child Left Behind’ Law requires all teachers to be ‘Highly Qualified’ and then defines that as:
Highly Qualified Teachers: To be deemed highly qualified, teachers must have: 1) a bachelor’s degree, 2) full state certification or licensure, and 3) prove that they know each subject they teach.