I have a teaching credential from the state of California. I got my credential a few years after graduating from college. I had not realized while doing my undergraduate studies that I would want to be a teacher. I studied linguistics at UC Berkeley and didn’t really have a plan as to what job I eventually wanted, so I just finished my studies and began working in the corporate world for a technology company in San Francisco. However, the style of the corporate world didn’t agree with me and I soon began to feel a deep sense of dread at the thought that I might be sitting in a cubicle for the next forty years.
I decided to begin working on getting my teaching credential. I already knew that I liked teaching – I had had the opportunity to try it out when I taught English as a second language in Mexico for a short time, and also when I worked part time teaching ESL while I was still in college. Teaching always made me feel great – it was mentally stimulating, it was more active than sitting in a cubicle, and it was fun working with people. I knew it was a better choice for me. So I began a credential program through National University, taking classes online and at the local NU campus.
I won’t tell you all the details of my experience working towards my credential. That might be a post for another day. To make a long story short, I got a preliminary single subject teaching credential in the subject area of English. That “preliminary” credential would be valid for five years. At some point in those five years, I would have to enroll in an induction program to complete coursework so that I could obtain the “clear” credential. Once a teacher in the state of California has a clear credential, they do not have to worry about taking more courses or documenting their professional development; they can just pay the renewal fee and have a valid credential until the end of their career. But you have to complete the induction program to get your clear credential. Otherwise, your preliminary credential will expire, and then who knows what happens to you.
The problem for me was that after I finished my credential program, I moved abroad to teach in a small American school in Shanghai, China. This meant that I was far away from any school that offered an induction program. For the next four years, I diligently searched online to find an induction program I could do from abroad. No such luck.
But last fall (2013), I discovered a program offered by Claremont Graduate University in their education department. This program could be done locally or from a “geographically-far” location. I was thrilled! I had been so worried that my credential was going to lapse. Even though I work in the international schools scene, I still need to have a valid credential. I was afraid that my options would be very limited after this school year and I would have to move back to California to clear my credential. But so far, I seem to have found the solution.
I am currently participating in the CGU Induction Program. I am required to take a “clinical component,” which is a course connected to my practice in the classroom. I meet with my induction supervisor over Skype and we discuss my teaching practice, focusing on one of the specific classes I teach and several focus students in that class. At the same time, I must also take an “academic component.” This is an online graduate class through the school of education at CGU. The idea is that both components will work in tandem and I can gain valuable knowledge about theory and its practical implementation in my teaching.
I am very happy to be in this program. I am currently working at a secondary school in Japan, and this program allows me to continue to work abroad while clearing my credential. My credential is due to expire in October, so I am on track to clear my credential before then. That means all the work I have done to obtain my credential and to move forward in my career as a teacher will have paid off. Once my credential is clear, I will be able to continue to teach in international schools if I choose, but I will also be able to return home to the States and begin a teaching career if I so desire.
For California teachers like me who have been seeking a way to clear their credentials from afar, this seems like a great solution.