For a few grand, some online work, and few months student teaching, I was able to translate my four years of teaching ESL in Korea into a teaching career that could take me anywhere in the world.
What Am I Doing With My Life?
So, you decided to come to Korea for a year. Maybe your plans were to travel, save money or take a break between schooling. Then, it happens. One year becomes two. Two years grow to three. All of sudden, your life is Korea. You’ve established a network of friends and professionals in the expat and local scenes. You’ve contributed to events, causes, or publications that have become significant to you. You are ok with staying in Korea longer, but you know one day you will go back home or leave for another country. Your resume now includes working at three or four different public schools or hagwons. How will that appear to employers back home? How will you transition to a career back home or abroad?
One solution I found to this conundrum is TeacherReady. The caveat? You have to want to continue teaching.
TeacherReady is a graduate-level, alternative certification program to become a licensed teacher. When completed, you can take a general knowledge, professional teaching test, and subject area test to earn your license. The great part about this program is it can also count as twelve hours towards a master’s degree like secondary education.
TeacherReady is based in Pensacola Florida and is affiliated with the University of West Florida. Florida is the devil you say? Well, that’s ok. Florida teaching licenses have reciprocity with numerous states. When I lived in California, for example, all I had to do was bring in my test scores and licensing information from Florida to obtain my California teaching license — pretty simple. Let me add, the schooling and testing required to get the same teaching certification in California is far more rigorous. Depending on where you want to teach, however, you should check online for your specific state and their reciprocity standards. Florida currently has reciprocity agreements with forty-seven states. Additionally, if you plan to continue teaching abroad, it won’t matter where you obtained your teaching license.
TeacherReady is a graduate-level, nine month program that combines fairly easy online assessments, readings, and assignments with a practical student teaching experience. I worked in an after school program in Seoul so I was also able to student-teach under a mentor teacher at Kent Foreign School in the mornings. It was a terrific, low-stress experience. My friend Andy worked with a licensed teacher at his Hagwon who simply reviewed his lesson plans and sat in on a few of his classes. Just to clarify, you will be taking an online curriculum with a cohort of other teachers and also assisting or being monitored by a licensed teacher in a real classroom. If you do not know a licensed teacher in South Korea, TeacherReady will help you find one!
When finished with the program, you’ll be need to come back home to take three exams to be licensed. You’ll need to complete a general knowledge exam, professional teaching exam, and a subject area examination. For my subject area tests, I took English 6-12 and Social Sciences 6-12. Therefore, I’m licensed to teach both in Florida or one of the thirty plus states where the Florida license is accepted.
After I returned to Florida, I was offered a 10th grade English teaching position within a few months of returning home. Job hunting as a teacher is far easier than trying to find a job in other fields like sales, insurance, or banking. Additionally, while the pay is not great, the field is fairly recession proof. Once teachers factor in their benefits, pensions, and time off, teaching begins to close the pay gap. I’m not a homer, however, so let me be clear; teachers are grossly underpaid for the amount of work they accomplish. Teaching is far more tedious and emotionally involved than other professions. Effective teachers likely put in at least 60 hours of work per week. Although, my time management greatly improved during my second year of teaching.
Contact and Price
The current cost of completing TeacherReady is $4800. Once you factor in books, certification costs, statement of eligibility, fingerprinting etc, your cost will be closer to $5,500. Each teaching certification test, for example, (you take a minimum of three) costs between 120$ to 200$:(
For me, TeacherReady was one of the best decisions I made while enjoying my time in Korea. My employers DID value the time I spent teaching in Hagwons and living abroad. I did not feel overwhelmed or unprepared when stepping into an American classroom for the first time. For a few grand, some online work, and few months student teaching, I was able to translate my four years in Korea into a career.
For more information, please visit https://www.teacherready.org
The FAQ page is extremely helpful https://www.teacherready.org/about-teacherready/faqs/
Here is TeacherReady’s Map for state reciprocity https://www.teacherready.org/certificate-transfer-map/
Information on completing Master’s Degree at UWF using TeacherReady credits https://www.teacherready.org/alternative-teacher-certification-program/partnerships/university-of-west-florida/