How should my girlfriend show go about becoming a teacher?

This kind of goes along with my question yesterday about whether or not my girlfriend should get Montessori certified. So, instead of typing all of the background again, here you go:


So, there you have it. A woman fluent in Chinese, French, and English, who is interested in childhood development and art, and how the latter can be used to positively influence the former.

Oh, and she’s GREAT with kids.

I’d obviously like to help her figure out what she should do. I’ll write some questions here below, but the general overarching problem is this: What would you recommend she do to pursue this path?


  • Should she go to school in the US? I know there are programs in the US government to get native Mandarin speakers to come to the US to teach (National Security Language Initiative), though I don’t know if it ever came to anything. I’ve asked several state department officials here in Taiwan and they just sort of shrug. Moreover, I don’t know if any of these programs would be for teachers wishing to teach younger children.

How hard/easy is it to get teaching scholarships?

  • Can one get a job teaching kids without being certified as a teacher? By the time she arrives, she’ll have taken a couple of classes in social psychology and something else that escapes me (has to do with art and development, using art to express oneself), and, of course, she did the translation of the book on developmental psychology. Also, she will have a little less than a year of teaching experience here in Taiwan.

Well, that’s all the questions. Any other info would be great. If it’s any help, we’ll likely be moving to New York, Boston (area), DC, San Diego, or Denver.

Should she go go school in the US?
I think she should because it would make her look more marketable to schools here. Educational institutions are now required by law to verify that their teachers have a college degree and are State certified.

How hard/easy is it to get teaching scholarships?
I think it would be difficult to get an education scholarship because there are so many going into education. Its not impossible though.

Does she need to be certified to teach?
Yes! The best she would be able to do in the states without being certified is to become a “parapro”, meaning she would essentially be a teacher aide. This would be a good start for her IMHO and give her exposure to the educational system here. Again, there is legislation in effect that requires educational institutions to verify degrees and certifications.

What state will she be teaching in? Some states with teacher shortages allow “lateral entry”, a program by which folks with relevant experience begin teaching without having a license and work on obtaining a license during their first year of teaching.

If she’s wanting to do Montessori, though, all bets are off: Montessori is a private school program, not a public school program. She’d need to investigate what their requirements are, either by school or by organization. It’s pretty unlikely that a regular licensing program would be much use to her if she wants to do MOntessori.


She could teach at a private school–in many states (perhaps all: I don’t know), certification is not required for private school teachers. But the pay is typically much lower.

There are various alternative certification programs out there. Many will get you in a classroom almost at once. Often you pay for the program out of your first year’s salary, so the up-front costs are low. These programs are most common in areas where they can’t find teachers, so they are often not great schools. Now, I teach at a not great school and I love it, but some people are skittish. The programs are often a lot of work, because you are teaching during the day and attending classes on how to teach during the evenings, but after a year of that you have your certification and it’s exactly the same as if you spent two years in school. You didn’t specifically mention if your gf has a college degree: if she doesn’t, she has to have one of some sort.

It’s hard to be any more specific because education happens on the state level. Every state is very, very different.

Thanks for the replies everyone, and, please, keep 'em coming…

As I mentioned in the OP, which state she’ll be starting in depends largely (wholly) on where I get accepted for grad school, so let’s hope she’ll be starting in NYC, DC, or Boston.

She does. She has a bachelors in French and a, I guess, Masters in Cultural Mediation.

Columbia University in New York City and New York University both have teacher education graduate schools that are ranked in the top twenty in the country. So do Harvard and Boston College. But most colleges and universities have some sort of teacher training program --even very small ones.

Since your friend already has a degree, it should not be difficult to find out what is required for certification from the state that she is living in. (The requirements vary from state to state.)

Also, some colleges will count her life’s experiences in one way and some will count it in another. That will also be worked out when she is here.

Some of the schools are hard to get into – Harvard and Columbia, for example. But she will not have to have credentials from those universities to get a job in America.

One thing she will want to do is to decide what age she wants to teach. The schools may be arranged something like this:

5 year olds through 8 year olds
9 year olds through 11 year olds
12 year olds through 14 year olds
15 year olds through 17 year olds

That should give you a rough idea. She should also decide whether she wants to teach in a private school (which is the only place she can teach Montessori) or a public school. It is easier to get a job in public schools and the pay is better, but there is often a lot of stress.

If she teaches the older children, she will want to decide what subjects she would most enjoy teaching – languages? math? acience? history? literature? etc. She may be asked to teach two or three.

She should be patient in getting everything ready to teach. It will take a while to get everything approved and all of the questions answered. But that is just part of being in America. Tell her we call it “Hurry up and wait.” :slight_smile:

I hope she likes it here!

(My old school – Peabody College (Vanderbilt University, Class of '69) – is still ranked number two and Stanford is still in first place, damn it. How long, oh Lord?)