Q. I am actually still in my job and I have been interested in a career change for a few years. My job used to be fulfilling, but I see what the future looks like, and I just don’t have the same excitement about work as I did. Teaching has always been an interest of mine. Do schools still need teachers who come out of other industries? How do you get these jobs, and how do I make the transition?
A. Many school systems continue to be interested in recruiting experienced professionals. I consulted with two representatives of Boston Public Schools, who discussed an innovative method used to recruit top talent. "Three Pathways to Teaching and Licensure in Boston,” offers three different ways to make the transition into teaching, which are based on the experience you bring to the process. The Teacher Diversity Action Plan (www.teachboston.org) provides programs to recruit, retain and support teacher candidates. Deadlines for submitting your resumes are posted on the site.
Candidates with some teaching experience can move through the process quickly. With a bachelor's degree and one year of previous teaching experience, you can receive support during the spring and summer to prepare for the Massachusetts Tests of Educator Licensure (MTEL). While you are earning licensure, you can apply for teaching positions. This path also provides fee reduction vouchers for the MTEL and priority referrals for teaching positions. There are separate offerings for interested potential teachers with six months experience and no experience to act in a paraprofessional role, or as a substitute teacher as well. Additional information is available at www.bostonpublicschools.org.
As with all careers, learn what the position would be like before investing too much time and energy into your transition. Acting as a substitute teacher is a must. Shadow teachers at different grade levels; network with teachers who are new to the discipline, those who have chosen to leave and retired teachers who couldn’t imagine a better career. Identify what you have in common with these professionals and ensure your career change is based on a realistic view of the day to day work, and not a Hollywood version or your dream teacher from third grade.
The MTEL is needed for all teaching, support personnel and specialist roles. Sample tests are available at www.doe.mass.edu/mtel/prep. Networking with school committee members, visiting the office of the Superintendent of schools of your local city or town can get you the information you need on the extent of openings available.