An English major who wishes to student teach on the secondary level during his or her senior year must apply to the Chair of the Department of English and Theatre Arts two semesters earlier, by the third week of the term. Each student must submit a transcript and a letter of application on the topic "Why I Want to Teach." The letter should be at least 300 words long, and should explain how student teaching relates to the student's long-term goals. Every application will be voted on by the full Department following its interview of the student at a time arranged through the Department Chair.
Before beginning student teaching, students must also
- Have completed English Literature I, American Literature I, Advanced College Writing, and one 300-level English course;
- Have completed Anatomy of English;
- Have earned a 3.0 GPA in their major by the start of the semester before they plan to student teach;
- Have achieved Level IV by January of the junior year.
To be well prepared for secondary English teaching, majors are strongly urged to take English Literature II, American Literature II, Shakespeare I or II, Teaching Assistant in Composition, and a course on women's literature, African American literature, or another minority literature.
The Education Department on Clark 3 should be your first stop. Pick up the brochure on English Education, read it carefully, and make an appointment with Prof. William Lister, the Chair of the Education Department, to discuss your program. That brochure should answer many of your questions about Hartwick's teacher preparation program, leading to secondary (or Adolescence, grades 7-12) certification. Alert your advisor in the English Department of your plans to teach so that you can choose courses appropriately. Do not postpone many of your English courses until senior year; you will need them as a student teacher. Be demanding of your writing skills, seizing any opportunity to improve your grasp of grammar and style. If you are invited to tutor in the Writing Center, by all means accept: there is no better spur to learning English grammar than tutoring it.
If you decide late in your college career to teach, or if you prefer a writing emphasis or a second major to a teaching certificate, you still have options in secondary teaching. Some students proceed directly from their Hartwick major to an English M.A.T. or M.Ed. program, deferring student teaching and a job until they are ready to move to wherever the jobs are. If you plan to be certified later through another institution, spend your time here getting a solid education in literature and liberal arts; many institutions will transfer in Foundation courses in Education but will not accept pedagogical courses from elsewhere towards their certification programs. Professor Lister would be glad to advise students about alternative paths to certification, whether at the secondary or elementary level.
If, on the other hand, you would like to teach without immediately going on with your schooling, consider the many private day and boarding schools both here and abroad. International schools recruit at conventions in the States, and many private schools subscribe to specialized placement agencies that will send out your credentials to appropriate schools without any charge to you. Some of these schools place high value on your being willing and able to help coach a sport, advise a newspaper or literary magazine, assist with dramatics, live in and supervise a dormitory, or run challenge programs; if you have relevant experiences and skills, flaunt 'em. Even if they don't win you a job, they might still help you to a spot as a teaching fellow at a secondary school. These short-term positions, though paying less than regular appointments, are often competitive and prestigious; even those that are not may offer training and that invaluable commodity, "relevant work experience." The Office of Career Services maintains a listing of over 120 teaching-fellowship and intern programs at private schools nationwide.
If you are willing to teach where the need is greatest, in the urban and rural public schools that suffer from a shortage of teachers, you can apply to Teach for America. This program actively seeks out talented liberal arts and sciences students who have not majored in education or been certified, but who bring a commitment to the idea that all of America's children should have an equal opportunity to succeed. The program predates AmeriCorps, the national service initiative, and will no doubt survive that program's (at the time of this writing, impending) demise. The connection with AmeriCorps makes possible a partial forgiveness of principal or interest on certain student loans. Even without that connection, employment by Teach for America can bring a living wage, since salaries are equivalent to those of other first-year teachers in that school district. The program requires a two-year commitment and flexibility about the grade level (K-12), subject area, and geographic region of the placement. The Office of Career Services can give you a pamphlet with further details.