Help Make the World Make Sense: Become an English Teacher
Students pursuing certification in English are encouraged to work closely with the faculty of the English Department to develop the reading, writing, and analytical skills they'll need to teach language effectively to secondary students. Our program reflects the core values the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) uses to guide professional practice in the field:
- Writing. Writing is viewed here as a central tool for learning, thinking, and communication of ideas and, as such, we believe that the demonstrated ability to write clearly and effectively is fundamental to effective English teaching;
- Literature. Like NCTE, at Gettysburg College we "honor the distinctive power of literature to (re)-awaken the imagination as well as to ensure that a multitude of voices and perspectives are heard." Literature helps us understand ourselves and the world we live in by increasing our awareness of the endless ways the world is experienced by others.
- Integrated language arts. Like NCTE, we believe that language instruction should be present throughout the school curriculum, and we encourage our candidates for certification to look for ways to connect the study of language to other fields and to other parts of the curriculum. We define what it means to be "literate" in a broad way, focusing on the many different ways people go about making sense of the world around them: through writing, speaking, and reading, of course, but also through listening, viewing, and interacting with emergent media forms.
- Diversity. The study of language is the study both of how we communicate with one another--how we find common ground--and also how we turn inward to communicate with ourselves. There is no limit to the many ways of seeing and being in the world, and a big part of the study of language and literature involves the endless search for beauty and truth, however we might define these things. By welcoming a diverse array of perspectives into the English classroom, our teacher candidates invite students to join them in the most expansive search for meaning in life in a way that celebrates difference while simultaneously building community.
- Knowledgeable, caring teachers. Because we believe that teachers should have deep, flexible knowledge of the subjects they teach--knowledge that leads to genuine understanding--students pursuing certification at Gettysburg College are required to major in a discipline or content area associated with the subjects they wish to teach. While our colleagues in the English Department take the lead in preparing students to know their content well, we emphasize an ethic of caring that brings content to life so that it cannot become inert.
- Advocacy. Like NCTE, we believe that if schools are ever to become truly centered on the things that matter most--such as student growth and personal development, not achievement test scores--teachers will have to lead the way out of the wilderness. We encourage our teacher candidates to become active and vocal critics of school policies that do not serve the interests of students, whether those policies are related to controversial ideas like standardized testing, censorship of materials, or narrowing the definition of "literacy" in ways that prevent students from being able to express themselves. We want our graduates to advocate for good teaching wherever they go, and never to apologize for putting students first.
- Public education. Finally, though Gettysburg College is a private institution, most of our graduates go on to teach in public schools. We believe that every person should have access to high quality education that is free at the point of delivery. This commitment begins in the classroom, where our teachers work to create inclusive, open environments that welcome all students regardless of who they are or where they're from. To become educated is to become a public citizen, and we take the responsibility our teacher candidates have for leading this transition in schools very seriously.
If you think you might be interested in becoming the kind of English teacher described above, set up a meeting with an Education Advisor and be sure to discuss your plans with your advisor in the English Department as well. You may also wish to review the checksheet for students seeking certification in secondary English as well, which is linked below.