Give me the basics: what do I need to do to get certified to teach?
Here's what you have to do:
Check your relevant certification checksheet for more details.
Will I be able to use my Pennsylvania certificate to get a teaching job in another state?
One of the more frustrating things about teaching in the United States is the fact that there is no such thing as "national" teacher certification; each state makes its own rules to determine who is qualified to teach within its borders. With that said, many teaching certificates are "portable"--some to a greater extent than others. If you decide to complete an approved teacher preparation program at Gettysburg College and wish to teach in another state when you graduate, you should discuss your plans with your Education Advisor to make sure that you have selected an appropriate certification area. You can also research certification requirements in other states. Most information about teaching certificates is available online or can be had with a simple (but sometimes painful) phone call.
In short: no, your Pennsylvania teaching certificate will not be valid in any state other than Pennsylvania. But, yes, with a little extra work it will enable you to find a teaching position, and become certified, in another state.
Which certificate is right for me?
Choosing the right certificate area depends on a number of factors, including: whether you plan to teach in Pennsylvania; whether you have distinct academic interests or would rather develop and cultivate a broad range of academic skills to improve your marketability as a job candidate; and depending on the major you choose to pursue at Gettysburg. You have a number of options for finding the certificate that's right for you. Talk with your Education Advisor to make sure you find a certification program that's right for you.
How soon do I have to declare my intention to be in the Teacher Education Program?
Generally speaking, you'll want to begin having conversations with your Education Advisor about your intentions to pursue certification sometime in your first year at Gettysburg. Students declare their intent to student teach in the fall of their junior year, at which time application for the Education Semester must be made. In order to be admitted to student teaching (which occurs during the Education Semester), students must complete two college-level math courses, a literature course, and have a grade point average above 3.0, along with other requirements. Needless to say, careful planning before applying to the Education Semester makes all the difference. Stop in and visit the Education Department in Weidensall as soon as you think you might have the urge to teach and we'll do our best to guide you through it.
Can I get a certificate to teach in elementary schools at Gettysburg College?
As of today, no. When the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) amended its guidelines for teacher preparation recently it added several new requirements for elementary preparation that simply cannot be met at an undergraduate liberal arts college like Gettysburg within a four-year frame of time. Students interested in elementary certification are encouraged to pursue a minor in Educational Studies and consider graduate school for initial certification.
I've heard about alternative certification programs like Teach for America; how do those work? Should I just do that instead?
Teach for America (TFA) is certainly the most well known of the alternative routes to certification available to college graduates today. TFA, in particular, is an organization that has the prestige and resources to circumvent initial state certification requirements and place college graduates directly in public school classrooms. At Gettysburg we encourage students to become involved in professional education in any way they can; this includes pursuing alternative routes to certification when appropriate. At the same time, we believe that our programs offer preparation that is not available to people who become certified without completing a preparation program. We offer extensive clinical field experiences, challenging coursework, and personalized attention that is not always available in alternative settings (or, for that matter, in larger schools of education). If you're interested in a program like TFA, we encourage you to consider completing our program first as we think it will provide you with valuable preparation for classroom work.
If you have other questions that are not answered here, send them to your Education Advisor or contact Prof. Dave Powell (email@example.com).