Completing a US Teaching License While Working at Whales English

Welcome back to ESL Gypsy! In the past, I’ve outlined the steps to take for completing a Florida state teaching license while working online. The challenge to this process is being able to complete your field experience, which must total 150 hours (including a one-week culminating experience). I’ve recently completed the coursework and field experience for my license while teaching at Whales English. This week, I’m going to walk you through the details of the process. For those who missed the last posting on this, I’ll be briefly review the Teacher Ready program before explaining the culminating week.

 

The Teacher Ready program leads to a five-year renewable professional certificate from the state of Florida.

The Program

I completed my teacher preparation program with Teacher Ready at the University of West Florida. The program itself consists of eight independent study modules. Each one is designed to be completed within a month. In reality, they can be completed more quickly than that. The work was rigorous and required reading and reviewing the material provided. Each module costs $600 USD (for a total program cost of $4,800). There is also a $200 registration fee. However, when I applied there was a promotion which allowed them to waive the fee for me.




The Fieldwork

The program requires 150 hours of fieldwork spread out over the eight modules. If you are not teaching in the classroom, you need to complete your fieldwork in a mentor’s classroom. This requires keeping a detailed journal of your 150 hours. I was able to complete my fieldwork in my own online classroom. To satisfy the 150-hour requirement, I simply needed to complete a form which also provided the contact details for my school, Whales English, and submit it to Teacher Ready.

 

Field experience is a required part of the TR program.

The Culminating Week

As part of your field experience, you must complete one week (five lessons) of independent teaching experience. In a brick and mortar institution, you would be required to teach in your mentor’s classroom or be observed teaching in your own classroom. Ideally, the Teacher Ready program prefers you to get a mentor from your school. The mentor must be a US licensed teacher with a Master’s in Education. I was unable to find someone at my school who could serve as my mentor. However, Teacher Ready was kind enough to provide an incredibly knowledgeable mentor who worked with me through the whole process.

            Benchmark Assessment

Prior to teaching your five days of culminating week, you need to complete a benchmark assessment with your mentor. This is a classroom observation of you teaching a lesson that you’ve planned. Ideally, this should be completed during module 4. Since I was unsure of how and where I’d be doing my field experience, this was delayed until I was ready to begin my culminating week. This observation requires you to video tape one of your lessons and submit it to your mentor for review. Prior to completing this, you must receive signed permission from the school. My school also requested that the students’ faces be hidden. You can pixelate their faces, or you can crop them out. I chose to use Movavi video editing software to crop out the students’ faces. After you pass your benchmark assessment, you can begin planning your culminating week.

 

Teacher candidates are required to plan five days of instruction for their culminating week.

            Lesson Plans

Your culminating week will consist of five days of teaching. Since we see our students once per week at Whales English, my field experience was spread out over five weeks. Prior to teaching your lessons, you need to submit five days of lesson plans that are based on the Common Core Standards. This is where working at Whales was a huge advantage. Our classic English courses are all based on the US Common Core, so this made my lesson planning much easier. The lesson plans should have:

  • A Common Core Standard
  • 30-Day Learning Goal
  • 30-Day Summative Assessment
  • A Weekly Learning Target
  • Daily Learning Targets
  • Daily Learning Tasks
  • Daily Formative Assessment
  • Summative Assessment for the Week
  • A Pre & Post Test

            Completing the Teaching

As you teach each lesson, you will be required to submit a daily reflection. I first sent my mentor this reflection via email. She gave her feedback and I added that into a final daily reflection that I submitted for grading. Your daily reflection should include elements of the lesson that you will adapt for future lessons based on your formative assessments. Your mentor does not watch your daily lessons.

At the end of the five days, you will submit one video taped lesson of your choosing for your mentor to evaluate. This must adhere to the same guidelines outlined above (students’ faces must not be shown). After you pass this evaluation, you need to complete a final reflection on the program which is in essay format. This will require you to mention three things that you will bring with you from the program into your first year as a licensed teacher. You are also asked to submit a document reflecting on the pre and post test data that you gathered.

 

After getting your teaching certificate, remember to keep it current by completing your continuing education requirements!

            Final Steps

After you finish the culminating week, you only need to complete the Florida state testing. This consists of three exams- the General Knowledge test, the Professional Education test, and the Subject Area exam. Please note: There are fees attached to each one of these exams that are NOT INCLUDED in the Teacher Ready program. The Florida Department of Education allows an exemption for the General Knowledge test under certain circumstances, such achieving a certain score on a recent GRE exam. Check their website for more details. After completing your exams, you need to be fingerprinted and then the Florida DOE will issue your Five-Year Renewable Professional Teaching Certificate.

Important Notes

I am completing my certificate in K-12 ESOL. This allowed me to do my field experience with Whales English. I have a friend who is completing his certificate in secondary math, and he will need to do his field experience outside the ESOL classroom. Check with Teacher Ready and/or the FL DOE to ensure that the certificate you are after can be completed in your online classroom.

The certificate you are issued is renewable. This requires you to complete a certain number of continuing education credits every five years to keep your certificate current. Check with the FL DOE to stay up to date on current requirements.

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