Today I worked as a substitute para-educator in my local deaf/hard of hearing (public school) program for the first time. While talking with the teacher (who I’ve volunteered with for a few months) I mentioned that I wanted to get my teaching certificate sometime, but probably just in secondary math since there were no teacher of the Deaf programs where we live, and I wasn’t willing to uproot my husband to go to school.
She nodded, and then pointed out to me that there are evidently several places where you can get a masters in Deaf education through an online program.
One of those places also offers a masters in regular teaching through an online program.
I have known of local certification programs for awhile. They take a year and are INTENSIVE. You have to start right on time (I always look into it right *after* the application deadline has passed) and then go full-bore for a solid year plus. I’m just not in a place where that is worth it right now. I am so burned out on sitting in class for the sake of sitting in class. I am so burned out on driving to classes to be bored by lecture on a subject I’ve heard about (or just bored by a poor lecturer). I am just not up for going back to intensive school like that. I have always hated sitting in lecture classes. One class at a time, great, but many? Not happening.
But these classes are online. I’m a very fast reader (in lecture classes I basically learn from the book anyway). I enjoy online discussions. I could work at my own pace, which tends to be fast. How awesome!
And then I know the DHH program here would allow me to student teach with them…and I could get certified!
Granted, it’s a two year program. But each semester you’re only taking two classes (typically). And they’re online. (What a difference no lecture makes!)
And I don’t want to be out in a year, anyway. I’m hoping to have a newborn in a year. I’m not going to want to start working then. But I would totally be up for continuing with some school. Especially when that school is online and flexible.
So. I have options. And I’m not sure which one (or more?) to pursue. I’ve had in the back of my head that sometime I’ll get interpreter certified. And sometime I’ll get a teaching certificate. But it’s always been later. Now, suddenly, it could be now.
So which path to choose?
Do I want to get a masters degree in education of the deaf? I do love working with deaf kids. They are a lot of fun, and I find it very rewarding. It’s just a great atmosphere to work in. I can’t quite put my finger on why, but I enjoy it. On the other hand, there are ridiculous ongoing administrative and teaching style arguments going on all across the country. Deaf students tend to be behind (not because Deafness makes you dumb, but because many kids in public school weren’t exposed to language at all (or only rudimentary language) until kindergarten, and because English is a second language to them), which means administrators tend to get on you about things that aren’t your fault. Also there is a big misunderstanding of Deaf education by those who aren’t in the know. People who don’t get that these are ELL kids are often in charge. It can be a fight to prove you’re doing a good job if you teach in the kids’ native language (ASL) which is harder for the administrators to understand. And then within the community there’s a big battle for ASL vs. SEE (signing exact english, not its own language, doesn’t make visual sense) vs. oral (no gesturing, just reading lips and using speech). It’s a big can ‘o’ worms to jump into, and if you’re not willing to move options are often limited. Near me there is one school district that has the Deaf program…so I join that one or I don’t join one.
Do I want to get a masters degree in secondary math? I do love teaching math (who are we kidding, I just love teaching). I find it very enjoyable to break down and explain concepts in ways kids get. And I love doing math! But on the downsides, teaching math tends to be much more repetitive. It’s not like English, where you can rotate out what the kids are analyzing, when you are teaching algebra you are teaching algebra. I’m not sure how I’d feel about doing it year after year. And, of course, there’s always the ridiculousness of school officials in charge and their demands. Really, the bureaucracy in schools is just crazy, no matter what you’re teaching!
Do I want to just get my interpreter certification? Not work in a school necessarily, but work as an interpreter. Get to play in languages, which I love, and have good, challenging work. I don’t think I would find it as rewarding as teaching, because I do enjoy teaching, but it would be fun, and it is very flexible hours (you take jobs when you want them). I could work in a school, but likely only translating what others say, doing very little explaining myself. However, when you are an interpreter you are just a machine. You don’t get to have say in things, you are just repeating what others say. So, as I mentioned, I’m not sure how rewarding I’d find this. Sure you do some “explaining” when crossing cultures or picking the best way to convey a message, but it’s not the same. This is the least expensive option, and theoretically, the least amount of time is required for it, too. I wouldn’t have to go to school, just study my butt off on my own. Also means it’s the least likely to get done.
What to do?
Ideally I wish I could just get certified to teach, and do a little extra work to add on both math and deaf ed. That way I’d have flexibility and options as I see what is available, since I feel like I’d be able to do both well, and enjoy doing both. But unfortunately, I’ve gotta pick.
I’ve had similar posts before…the difference is, this time I see real options. As in, look! I could go to *this* program. It would cost this much, which we could afford, and I would do it this way. Scary and exciting all at once!