“What are you going to do in America, Amy?”
The question that has been asked umpteen times and the question that has been answered in so many different ways, depending on my mood at the time, and the number of times I had been asked it that day/week/month.
Today I have a better answer than “I don’t really know yet”.
Today I can officially say: I am rejoining the working world…in 6 days!
It’s been a long time coming and it hasn’t been a smooth journey but I am getting back in the classroom, and not as a student this time. I’m going to be standing at the front, being the teacher, shaping the minds of those pesky American kids.
I still can’t quite believe it myself, to be honest!
Mainly because this is a post that has been sat waiting to go for over 6 months now. I have been holding back for fear of things not going to plan, documents being rejected, offers falling through.
I had to work through a lot or red tape to prove that I was worthy. And this wasn’t an easy task. It took a lot of phone calls, paper work, waiting in offices, and on more than one occasion, breaking down into tears in front of people who you shouldn’t, and picking myself up and getting back on the horse.
Earning my teaching license in CA was something that I looked into when we were still in England, but gave up as it just didn’t seem possible. I read things about having to sit exams, go back to college to learn about the US constitution, having x number of college credits on your transcript and so many other hurdles to jump. It wasn’t something that I really wanted to do as I’d already spent 5 years at university in the UK; I just wasn’t willing to spend more time and money for a piece of paper I believed I already had.
But was this what was holding me back from answering people’s questions about my plans with what I really wanted to do?
It wasn’t that I was afraid of searching for teaching jobs, filling out the endless applications, or even attending the interviews in schools I’d never set foot in before. I wasn’t afraid of being turned down from one position, or one school.
I was completely petrified of being told that I couldn’t teach in any school in California: I didn’t know whether the state would even give me an equivalent teaching qualification, converting my PGCE into a CA credential.
But occasionally I would still look into how much it would cost* to enroll on a teacher training program and then quickly forget the idea. (*If you’re interested, it’s a lot).
So I would look at other jobs I thought I might like or be ever so slightly qualified for. But there was never anything that I felt passionate about. I wanted to find that job that made me feel like I was making a difference. That my job was worthwhile and I wanted to get up every morning and work hard for. That was what teaching meant to me.
And that’s what I did. I put my fears aside and started to work hard to get to where I wanted to be.
So I started by speaking to the principle at a school I was volunteering. I was given a little glimmer of hope that it could be possible. She pointed me in the right direction, gave me the names and telephone numbers of the right people to speak to. She told me to go for it, get the ball rolling. There were a lot of hurdles that I had to jump to get to my goal, including getting my English qualifications accredited and passing the Californian Basic Education Skills Test (that wasn’t a pleasant 4 hours of my life).
But I got there. I had done everything possible in terms of paperwork and it all was now in the hands of that one person, who’s desk my application landed on at the Sacramento Office of Education. They could say “yay” or “nay” to my experience. They could say that I didn’t have the correct college classes on my transcripts. They could crush my hopes in one email.
Thankfully, that didn’t happen, or why would I be writing this post? I got the email starting with the phrase “Congratulations…” from the Office of Education: they had issued my teaching credential and I was cleared to work! That was a big weight off my mind, as at this point I had already accepted a job at a recruitment fair in March *phew*.
So that’s where I am now. I’m enjoying my last few days of unemployment before I have to start setting the alarm for my early morning wake up call. Now that’s going to be a shock to the system!
I plan on writing a post in the future about what I had to do to get my teaching credential, and what I still have to complete as a newly qualified teacher in California, as unfortunately it doesn’t stop at that one piece of paper. I’m hoping it will be helpful to others out there, possibly in the same boat as me, as when I was doing my research, there was no information out there about what I needed to do: it was like trying to find a needle in a haystack. In the end I gave up, and went to the shop and bought a brand new needle 😉
Have you been in the position of having to start a new career in a foreign country? Are you working towards earning your teaching licenses in the US or the U.K? Are you looking at getting into teaching and want some honest advice and help on how to get there?