Reaching Your Potential
As a teacher, you well know that learning never ends and that you'll be required to frequently renew your certification to stay current with standards. This is a great way to help you reach your potential if you are strategic about it.
Adding additional endorsement areas to your teaching certificate is one of many ways to expand your knowledge and expertise. People frequently ask me, "What are the best endorsements to add?" I always answer this by asking them in turn, what they enjoy teaching. It's not always about adding the most marketable endorsements. If you don't love or have an aptitude for mathematics, then don't seek to add a math endorsement simply because it is consistently a shortage area content. We've all had that teacher who did not care about what they taught. It wasn't fun, so don't be that person. Start with what you love and you'll jump out of bed to do it every day.
Having said that, one endorsement that I highly recommend for any teacher is English Language Learners (ELL), also known as ESL, ESOL and a few other titles nationwide. This endorsement gives you the experience to be able to understand and assist students in your classroom whose native language is not English, no matter what that native language is. Many states require it in order to teach in their state and others are jumping on board. It's one of those endorsements that can truly enhance any teacher's skill set.
The typical shortage areas of special education, math and science still top the charts for marketability, but again, make sure you really have an aptitude for these content areas of you pursue them.
Sometimes reaching your potential isn't necessarily adding to your credentials specifically. It might be coaching, tutoring or community programs in which you are involved. These demonstrate leadership skills that go above and beyond the classroom. Where do you start? Once again, where does your heart lead you? That's where you should look first.
Finally, if you have an inner pull towards advanced credentials such as administration, don't ignore it. We need great administrators as much as we need great teachers. If you start feeling that pull from within, jump on it. Push aside any doubts that may flitter across your mind's theater screen that this may be above you and just do it. If you've been teaching for a while and you know your heart's desire is to lead from a new perspective, this is my formal invitation to you to jump on board. We need you!
One final note. How do you know when you've actually reached your potential? I'm not sure we ever do. But it's sure fun discovering new layers of ourselves that we didn't know exist, isn't it? That alone will keep you in the game, both personally and professionally. Kids can only benefit from that.
Cathy Stephens, Director
Office of Educational Certification & Career Services