International Schools Review
Teachers Keeping Each Other Informed

Aspiring International Teacher. Advice Welcomed

Aspiring International Teacher. Advice Welcomed

Postby CaliPro » Sat May 26, 2012 12:49 am

Ok guys. So after a year of throwing around many ideas I have decided to go ahead and get licensed / certified to pursue my dream of living abroad.

I will be doing the TeacherReady program that is based out of Florida.

I plan on getting certified in a high needs area (math / science). Which one would you all recommend out of Middle Grades Mathematics and Mid - HighSchool Biology?

As of now, I plan to be heading to Korea in July and will begin the 9 month online program and look to do my student teaching at a International School in Korea this following year and return to the USA to take the tests that I will need to become certified in Florida (3 in total).

I am looking to permanently move / teach in Colombia.

Well, any guidance will be much appreciated!
Posts: 209
Joined: Sun Dec 25, 2011 12:08 pm
Location: United States


Postby PsyGuy » Sat May 26, 2012 5:28 am

Why the florida teach ready program? One florida has its own set of tests, unlike praxis which you can take world wide?

There are shorter (MUCH shorter, an ACP program should take longer then a year, and a semester/summer is doable), cheaper, and more efficient alternative certification programs. You also want to student teach at an IB school, or at the very least an american school that offers AP.

If you had to pick one, math. Of course both is better (the math & physics/chemistry is a popular combination.
Posts: 7134
Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2011 9:51 am
Location: Northern Europe

Postby CaliPro » Sat May 26, 2012 7:04 am


Well I picked it because it appeared to be the best program / option. ie online, 9 months, 5k USD ect.

Which programs would you recommend that are better. If there is better ACP 's I would love to hear them.

Admittedly I didn't spend a lot of time researching alt cert programs as the TeacherReady program looked very appealing to me.

I do not think I could teach myself math AND science the first go around as math alone looks like it will take some work to get back up to speed. (Last math class was almost 6 years ago)
Posts: 209
Joined: Sun Dec 25, 2011 12:08 pm
Location: United States


Postby PsyGuy » Sat May 26, 2012 4:45 pm

Theres nothing bad about it, its just so inconvenient. First of all Florida has its own teacher tests the FTCE & FELE. They are only offered in Florida, so youve got to go to florida to take them. Unlike the praxis tests which are offered world wide ... _intl.html

Its not offered in S.Korea, but it is offered in Japan which is like next door to SK, much closer and cheaper then flying back to the states.
The following states use the Praxis:
Washington DC
New Jersey
New Hampshire
North Carolina
South Carolina
South Dakota
West Virginia
North Dakota

A 9 month online program for just certification is a long time, you might as well do a Masters once you add field experience. For example there is a certification program in texas ( that offers all online seminars at your own pace (a month if you wanted to be fast), that you could finish easily over the summer, and then do a one semester/12 week clinical/student teaching ( The program fee is $4200, the down side, Texas has its own tests, that you have to take in Texas.
For an online certification program you shouldnt spend more then a year at most, and that includes field experience. 6 months or less should be and is more realistic (depends on the field experience). The time line is to spend the summer doing your coursework, and tests, and then your field experience in the fall so that your DONE by December, because thats the primary recruiting for next year (2013/21014) will start (the big job fairs are in January/February). Technically recruiting starts in November, but you want to have certificate in hand when you apply to those schools, and attend those fairs. If you wait until the end of spring/summer until your certified there wont be much left, and since you have a very focused job target (colombia) you need as much time and opportunities on your side.

You want to teach in Colombia which at American type schools are primarily SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) accredited, which means they usually adapt their curriculum, so getting certified in one of those states would make you more familiar with their pedagogy/methodology/curriculum (of which Florida is one of them)

I cant tell you which program to go into, there are SO many different programs, and I dont know what your needs are.
Posts: 7134
Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2011 9:51 am
Location: Northern Europe

Postby CaliPro » Sat May 26, 2012 5:33 pm

I did not consider needing to be finished with and cert in hand by December.

This is really gonna put a wrench in my plans as I need to take immediate action NOW.

Only issue with that is I wouldnt be able to teach myself middle grades math that fast imo by the end of the summer. Unless I can do my field experience without having passed the subject area test. I am not even sure if that is feasible / allowed.

How long is the typical field experience with alt cert programs?

This is a little concerning to hear.

I need to find a cheap program that I can finish online that has a short field experience requirement.

Dios mio!


Now thinking about it, I know of teachers going to the job fairs in Jan/Feb that are graduating in the spring / May and still getting hired.

Maybe that could be an option.
Posts: 209
Joined: Sun Dec 25, 2011 12:08 pm
Location: United States


Postby PsyGuy » Sat May 26, 2012 6:59 pm

Middle school math you would have to teach yourself? I dont want to offend you, but you did complete middle school math, and some high school math, and a course or two in college right? Your basically talking, fractions, basic geometry (volume, area, etc) and pre algebra (5x+2=27, solve for X)... I would think you could get a copy of "math for dummies" and be fine.

That said middle school math by itself is not going to get you hired. When international schools look for a math teacher they want someone that can teach K-12, SL/HL (thats Standard level, and Higher Level IB), and/or AP (Advance Placement) math. Thats why its in such high demand. If you want to teach "just middle school" your looking more at being a middle school generalist and if your going to be a generalist you might as well do elementary.
Even if you do get certified in math, how are you going to impress a recruiter that you actually have expertise experience in teaching math. You really should consider what your education and background is in, and then pursue that as a teacher, since you will actually be in a position to demonstrate to a head that you would have something to offer the students. I have a california clear certificate in EVERY (ok not every foreign language) single subject and a multi classroom certificate, and special ed certificate, and even though im certified in music, I would never teach it. I would be doing a disservice to my students.
Internationally the teaching market isnt that bad for those in the arts, and less demand teaching subjects.

You dont HAVE to have a certificate in hand, but I assume you want to actually get hired. Its not impossible and there is a school/job for anyone if you will accept anything, but if your a newbie at a job fair with no experience, no education degree, AND your not certified, why would they hire you, since you cant even say your a teacher, and there are interns with more competitive credentials? What would you talk about at the interview? You like working with kids, and your certified, then what?

You must be "Highly Qualified" under NCLB, either you need to have taken the state certification exam or have a degree major (with 24 hours) in the subject to do your field experience.

Field Experiences vary. Typically an Internship is a year (9-10 months), and student teaching, or clinical teaching is a semester (12-16 weeks).

You really need to start on this now. You typically cant find fast AND cheap, the more of one the less of the other. A PGCE, from the UK doesnt have a field experience outside some classroom observations, and there are online programs that will let you do them anywhere you can get access to a classroom, but as a foreign student you will pay 10K£ easy. You can find programs through UoP and Concordia that are "fast, but you will pay $10K-$20K. You can find low cost under $5K programs but if they are fast they are set up for local training. There is a cost either way.

You need fast and cheap, but what you need MORE then that is focused and marketable. The fastest cheapest certification wont mean anything if it doesnt get you hired. Your focused on Columbia, you should train in a SACS state. You should try to find an IB school, and you should pursue certification in what you know. if you do those things the training will move fast, you will ace your subject certification tests, will be highly successful and get recommendations from your field experience (which is more likely to happen if you know your subject), all those things will get you a "JOB". A certification without those is a conversation starter, nothing more.
Posts: 7134
Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2011 9:51 am
Location: Northern Europe

Postby CaliPro » Sat May 26, 2012 8:10 pm

Maybe I could, but I like to air on the side of caution.

I know a girl with only a middle grades math hired to teach in Cali Colombia from the NorIowa job fair.

So I assume you were just exaggerating when you said that alone will not get one hired and that you would advice people to get more broader certs.

There is numerous ways one can impress a recruiter. Either make a great impression or take lesser desirable jobs to get experience and a nice reference. Neither are full prof, gotta work with what you have.

I wont be getting any secondary math cert (9-12). My options I am eyeing are

1) Middle Grades Math
2) Elementary Education

Does being a guy help for Elementary?

Which one of those would be better and make it easier for me to land a job?
Posts: 209
Joined: Sun Dec 25, 2011 12:08 pm
Location: United States


Postby PsyGuy » Sat May 26, 2012 8:31 pm

No i wasnt exaggerating. There are ALWAYS exceptions, and there is always someone who knows someone that it worked for them. Im talking about maximizing your marketability. Are there "just" middle school math positions, sure, they are a small number compared to the overall pool of math positions. Im being practical and realistic. You have a very focused job target (Colombia) that narrows your options further. That said the top schools want the best candidates and those are going to be a math teacher that can teach all levels of secondary. So Im glad there was a girl at the UNI fair who got a middle school math position in Colombia, she got your job, so its not available anymore

Yeah a great impression and great references are nice, but when lots of candidates have great references and make a great impression then what? Lots of people have great resumes and great interview skills, this isnt a bucket of rocks and your the one diamond, its more like a lot of diamonds.

Which would be better??? Thats tough lots of variables. At American schools guys in primary have an advantage. Outside of that a lot of cultures and parents want their primary school teachers to be maternal and woman. It either helps you or it hurts you, there is no neutral about it.

I think 4-8 math would be a very small niche and a hard sell. MYP is grades 6-10, and it just doesnt sound like you have any expertise in it, and math is hard to fake. If you cant do it all, you really cant do it. This is how I break a succesful vacancy down for you:

2) Non IB (because you cant teach MYP 4&5, and forget DIP). In other words there MYP program alone has to have a math department with at LEAST 2 teachers one to teach the higher grade math and you. You cant do it by yourself (so small schools are an option).
3) Big enough school that middle school subjects arent combo positions (such as math/science in small schools).
4) Everyone else in the candidate pool is the same or less qualified then you, and that will be hard because without experience (your all newbies), if anyone has a degree in math or a 6-12 certificate, id hire them.

I think primary is the better option for you if I had to pick one of those. If you can student teach at a IB school in PYP, that would be the best case scenario.
You may consider a middle school generalist as well which is math, literature, humanities, and science. The tests arent too hard, because the test is integrated so weakness in one area (math) can be compensated with by a strong performance in the others, and it still qualifies you to teach middle school math.
Posts: 7134
Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2011 9:51 am
Location: Northern Europe

Postby wannateach » Sat May 26, 2012 11:49 pm

Hi Calipro,

I'm about halfway through the teacher ready program and I'll be taking the tests when I go home this summer. You do not have to go to Florida to take them, they are offered in several states. I'll be taking mine in Cincinnati.

I looked into alternative certification quite a bit before I started this program and I decided it was best for me for the same reasons you said. It's cheap, completely online, and if you're already in the classroom (which you will be) you can do your student teaching in your own classroom and not have to take a semester off.

The program takes nine months, I started in February and like I said I'm almost half finished. It was actually the shortest program I found, I've never heard of becoming certified over the summer, unless you have other coursework already completed. Psyguy was right, by the end you've completed half of the coursework for a masters, and they'll transfer that credit towards a MED if you want to continue (I'm still on the fence about that).

I did look into Texas a while back, but that didn't work for me because you have to do your student teaching within the state. Here's the website if you want to look into it anyways:

Also, it seems like a lot of teachers are always reminding us that certification isn't enough, you need two years certified experience to be competitive. I'm planning on staying at my current school for at least another year, and we have a lot of new graduates with Ed degrees working here getting that experience. Maybe you'll decide to stay at your school and get some more experience after getting certified rather than rushing off to a job fair where you might not be the best candidate.

You might be able to get certified in both middle school math and elementary education by taking two subject tests. If you look on the facebook page for Teacher Ready, a few people have gotten certified in two areas. I think there's someone on this forum that is part of the faculty for teacher ready, maybe that person would know?

Good luck with whatever you decide! It's a long process, I don't know if this will help me find a better job in the long run, but I'll let you know in a year or two when I've got my certification and ready to move on to a new school. Let me know if you have any questions about the program and I'll try to help :)
Posts: 12
Joined: Fri Sep 30, 2011 4:31 am

Postby CaliPro » Sat May 26, 2012 11:52 pm

Now I am quite unsure what to get certified in.

So you are saying Elementary and Middle School Generalist would be better than Middle Grades Math.

What about Secondary Social Studies?

I just want to pick something that will not take a lot of time to study for but at the same time I need to pick something that will get me hired.

I think a good thing about me is id be willing to go anywhere starting out so long as I can save some decent money.

Then look to relocate to Colombia after getting some experience and making contacts in the schools in Colombia.

Or there is the other option of just getting my MA TESOL and working in Universities abroad.


Are you subbing / TA'ng or is your school allowing you to teach while you get your certification? I am confused lol

What area are you doing with TeacherReady? I guess I could do both elementary and middle grades generalist. Im pretty sure there is no limit so long as you pay the money for the tests and can pass them.
Posts: 209
Joined: Sun Dec 25, 2011 12:08 pm
Location: United States

Postby sid » Sun May 27, 2012 12:16 am

I have two competing trains of thought.

One is that you are more likely to get hired as a math teacher than a generalist. We need more math teachers, and generalists aren't, in my opinion, as highly respected or needed.

Two is that it's unclear if you'll be a good math teacher. If you aren't already good at math, that could actually work in your favor, giving you a better understanding of the struggles that many students face with math. But for that to be true, you would first have to learn to be good at math, and it sounds as if you have some doubts about the timeline for that. Learning math properly is a major undertaking, especially learning it the way that students should be learning. I'm not talking about memorizing formulas and rules for how to move variables from one side of an equation to the other. I mean having a deep and meaningful understanding of what it means when you're moving variables around, knowing why you're moving then, and why you can do this, that or the other thing, but you can't do something that looks very similar. Knowing at least 3 ways to add a column of numbers, how to demonstrate division using manipulatives, how to teach division so it's not a set of procedural rules (set out your problem like so, move the decimal like so, divide this number into these numbers like so, write this number up here and this other number down here, draw a line, subtract, bring this number down from here to here, divide this number into this new number down here, etc, etc, etc), but rather teaching an understanding of division so that students can work out on their own several different ways to do a division problem, and know why their method will or won't work. Most of us didn't learn this in school, and quite frankly it's why many students struggle, so you might well have to start at the very beginning of learning math. But if you want to be a good math teacher, you'll need to do it.

Short term, it'll be easier to get a job as a math teacher than a generalist. Medium and long term, will you succeed as a math teacher, and how will that impact the rest of your career?

The world needs great math teachers. I hope you'll be one of them, but don't underestimate the work needed.
Posts: 792
Joined: Sat Dec 02, 2006 11:44 am


Postby PsyGuy » Sun May 27, 2012 1:58 am

What is your degree/background in???

You can also take praxis tests in any state and overseas. if your going to S.Korea (SK) states and programs based on Praxis tests, are going to be the only real option that saves you a roundtrip ticket, hotel, etc for flying back to the states, when you figure it will cost you around $2K per trip.

As i pointed out in the Texas Teachers example, you can do the seminars course work over the summer and clinical teaching over 12 weeks in the fall. That gets you done in 6 months, with certificate in hand. If you can do your clinical teaching at an IB school thats a big bonus. You can then find a third tier school somewhere that will hire you without the "2 years experience" get your 2 years experience that way (and maybe some more IB experience) and youll be going on to your next job (in colombia) with IB experience, and international experience.

Some states do let you add additional certification areas by just taking the Praxis exam.

I think one aspect that sid is not considering is that your not really looking to be a math teacher, your looking to be ONLY a middle school math teacher. Thats a much smaller market, and honestly a middle school generalist can teach middle school math as well. Though I agree with him that we need good math teachers and if you said you were looking into K-12 or 6-12 math id say that would be the way to go.

When you do your teaching internship, you work as a the teacher in your own classroom for a year. Its longer then student teaching/clinical teaching but you can count the year as a teaching year (so you have one year experience). You get a regular salary, and benefits.

Social studies (Humanities) isnt in very high demand, really.

If we look at teaching subjects by department, a schools primary school is typically its largest department. More teachers means more vacancies, and doesnt require specialized expertise. I think that avenue given what your looking for maximizes, your hiring options.
Posts: 7134
Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2011 9:51 am
Location: Northern Europe

Postby CaliPro » Sun May 27, 2012 2:13 am

My background is in Business.

So I guess I will just do the Elementary cert and also do the Middle Grades Math and/or Generalist and hope for the best.

Where would be the best place/location to look for first time employment in a tier 3 school in my situation where I could save some money?

Prob is irrelevant as I will more than likely have to take the first decent offer I can get, regardless of location.

I suppose ideally I would like to go to Korea in July and do the TeacherReady program and do the field experience at an IB school in which ever city I am living in and then they offer me job.

Doubt Ill get that lucky though :)
Posts: 209
Joined: Sun Dec 25, 2011 12:08 pm
Location: United States


Postby PsyGuy » Sun May 27, 2012 2:33 am

So get certified in that. Business Studies/Economics may not be as hot as math but there as many vacancies for them world wide as just about any other subject. Do you have computer expertise as well? Design Technology was popular this year, and so was Computer Science (IT/ITC). I say that because if im reading a resume for a math teacher and the ONLY thing I see is a certification for math and nothing else, you go to the bottom of the pile. If Im looking for a business studies/econ teacher and i see your certified, have a degree, and some business experience, then i think thats a person who can make those credentials work in the classroom.

Aside from that its going to be the easiest avenue possible for you.

1) You wont have to study nearly as much, because you have a background in the field, so you can focus on your education training in pedagogy and methodology.

2) Your probabley already highly qualified which means you dont have to wait to pass the test while looking for an internship (most ACP programs require you to find your own internship).

3) Your going to do better in the classroom, because your going to be a content expert, not just content certified. That means you will perform better, and ultimately get better evaluations and references. These will increase your marketability.

4) Once your certified, you can either take additional tests to get certified in other subjects, such as math if you want. Without the stress of completing your program, all youll have to do is study the content material. If your state doesnt let you add certifications by examination, you can move your certification to a state that does.

The middle east if going to be your best bet to save some money, when talking third tier schools.
Posts: 7134
Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2011 9:51 am
Location: Northern Europe

Postby CaliPro » Sun May 27, 2012 8:49 am

While having a Business degree I don't really posses any experience in the field as since graduation in 2009 I have mostly traveled the world and pondered what I wanted to do in life.

Now I think I am def gonna do the TeacherReady program. They can help me get placed in a International School abroad to do my field experience.

Also I really love how the state of Florida has a review site for every subject and the content subject tests only being 80 questions! They do a great job of breaking down every aspect of the test making studying a lot easier.

Only downside is the cost of taking the Exams is $480! I hope this means the regular 3 combined that people normally take. $480 for each test is quite steep. Hopefully each core subject exam will only cost 150 - 200 dollars.

After looking over the Mathematics for grades 6-12 ... 050610.pdf I think I could learn that within 6 months if I tried.

I feel like the best thing to do if head over to Korea for 1 year and study / take and pass these subject(s).

Mathematics k - 12 (I wonder if I would need to take the 5-9 math test if I can pass the 6-12 one?)

If time permits Business k - 12, and Physical Education k - 12.

As an young athletic guy that loves sports ect the Physical Education position would be best fit for me! Id love teaching that abroad but those jobs are probably few and far between.

Thanks for the advice guys!
Posts: 209
Joined: Sun Dec 25, 2011 12:08 pm
Location: United States


Return to Forum 1. From Questions About ISS & Search to Anything and Everything About International Teaching

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot], Google [Bot] and 9 guests