Teaching English Language Arts in Michigan means that you will have a hand in laying a strong foundation for a student’s learning in all other subjects. Without the ability to read and write, students will have a difficult time succeeding in school. Therefore, your job is key to all other educational courses.
As an English Language Arts teacher, you will have the opportunity to help students learn the craft of language and understand how to use it in many facets of their lives. Your day-to-day job requirements will include teaching writing, grammar, reading skills, spelling, and applied communication skills. If you have decided to pursue teaching, below are the general steps to becoming a Language Arts teacher in Michigan:
|Complete Your Education|
|Pass Michigan Teaching Exams|
|Apply for a Teaching Certification|
|Upgrade Your Michigan Teaching Certificate|
Step 1. Complete Your Education
If you desire to become an English Language Arts teacher in Michigan, you will first need the right training. There are many approved educational programs than you can participate in. How do you know which one is right for you?
The first thing to decide is what age of students you would like to teach. This will have a bearing on the type of bachelor’s (minimum degree) or master’s program you enter. For teachers in self-contained classrooms — grades K-8— you will be required to teach all subjects; not just English. In this case, you will want a degree in something similar to Elementary Education. You may also have the opportunity to minor in English. This route will cover all the subject matter you will need to teach, plus it will incorporate the teacher preparation portion of your program.
For teachers wishing to teach single subject areas in Michigan to grades 6-12, you will want to major in English Language Arts. Some schools will offer a minor in education along with your major. These degrees will also have a teacher certification section that will give the tools you need to know how to teach and fulfill licensing requirements.
The degree programs — bachelor’s and graduate degrees— all have a specific number of general courses required. These are typically taken as lower-division and upper-division general education.
The next set of courses are your electives and core classes. Many times you are free to choose what you would like to take in the electives category while the core classes will be predetermined. Some find it expedient to take core classes as their electives. If you do this, you will still need to fulfill the total number of credits needed to graduate (no double counting of credits). For an undergraduate degree this is usually about 126-130 semester units. The master’s degree has an additional 32-40 units as a general rule.
The final part of your program will place you in the teaching program. It is here that you will spend time learning the day-to-day things that teachers need to know such as:
- Lesson planning
- Classroom management
- Dealing with special needs
- Parent participation
- Education and the law
- The psychology of childhood development
If you plan your education right, you can find yourself teaching in as little as four years. Of course rushing through school shouldn’t be your goal. You need to have the proper preparation in order to feel confident when you take on your own classroom. Seeking a master’s degree will allow you more learning opportunities as well as place you on a higher pay scale when you land your first teaching job. This is something to consider when planning your education.
Alternate Programs for Teachers
There are also programs available for those who already have a degree and just need to take the teacher preparation part of the certification process. If this describes you, you can have your past college credits evaluated by a counselor to see if they qualify you to teach. If they do, you may actually be employed full-time as a teacher while you complete this portion of the program.
Step 2. Pass Michigan Teaching Exams
In order to qualify for your initial certification, Michigan requires a series of state mandated tests. The first — the Professional Readiness Exam— is a comprehensive test that covers the basics in reading, writing and math.
The second test that you will need to take will be the Professional Readiness Examination. This is also required of all teachers and is grade level specific. The last test is for teachers of secondary school. You will need to take the MTTC subject-area test.
To apply for your exams and to verify which ones are appropriate and current for your grade please visit the Michigan Test for Teacher Certifcation (MTCC) site.
Step 3. Apply for a Teaching Certification
This is the first certificate you will be issued. It will be awarded to you when you have completed your degree and teacher preparation program. You will also need to pass the Michigan Test for Teacher Certification (MTTC) and Professional Readiness Exam (PRE). This certificate can be renewed for up to six years as long as you complete the necessary requirements for each renewal.
In order to apply for your certificate, here is a basic step-by-step process:
- Create an account on Michigan Online Educator Certification System (MOECS).
- Read over and complete all the requirements for your initial certification.
- Complete an application.
- Pay your fee.
For further assistance you can contact the Michigan Department of Education:
Michigan Department of Education
Office of Professional Preparation Services 608 West Allegan,
P.O. Box 30008
Lansing, Michigan 48909
Step 4. Upgrade Your Michigan Teaching Certificate
Professional Education Certificate
Once you have been teaching for several years, you will have the opportunity to upgrade your initial certification to a Professional Certificate. In order to earn this level of certification you will need to have completed one of the following:
Three semester units in the diagnosis and remediation of reading disabilities and differentiated instruction. This must be a qualified course in order to satisfy the credit requirements.
Three years of successful teaching at a Michigan school plus one of the following:
- Six units in a planned program at an approved EPI
- Six units of academic credit in your field. This can be completed at any accredited university or college.
- Complete a total of 150 Continuing Education hours.
- Complete 150 District Provided Professional Development (DPPD) hours.
- Completion of an approved Master’s Degree or higher at any time.
Advanced Professional Education Certificate
- Must hold a Professional Education Certificate.
- Must pass the national board certification or complete a teacher leader training that was approved by the superintendent of public instruction.
- Receive five consecutive effective/highly effective marks on their annual teacher review.
Michigan English Teacher Salaries
Salaries for teachers in Michigan average around $62,000 a year. This is somewhat better than other states around the country. The national average for teacher salaries was around $56,000 in 2013 according to the NEA.
The top two largest cities in Michigan are Detroit and Grand Rapids. These cities’ schools both offer teachers contracts that will change both over time and with additional education. An English teacher for instance, teaching in these two cities’ school districts, can expect the following salaries with the associated level of education:
- Entry level BA – 39,647
- Experienced MA – 41,536
- Entry Level BA – $38,605
- Experienced MA – $42,466
Along with the steps in salary, there are other additional sources of income a teacher can access throughout the year. In the Forest Hills Public Schools in Grand Rapids for example, the English teacher above may take on an additional class over and above her regular set schedule. If that happens, she will be compensated with an additional 20% of a B.A. base salary prorated for the amount of the year she taught above her regular load.
Other types of compensation can include stipends for things such as mentoring programs, coaching, drama, yearbook, and other after-school and extracurricular activities. Another possible way that a teacher may affect their salary is from often over-looked items such as retirement pay and healthcare benefits.
For instance Forest Hills school allows teachers to add $3,500 back onto their salary in lieu of medical insurance. This may work in a young teachers favor if they don’t have a family and are able to secure relatively inexpensive outside medical benefits. The main consideration is to look at all factors—not just salary—when thinking about the bottom line.
For more salary information in other cities throughout Michigan see the chart below: