One of the greatest gifts a teacher can receive is the knowledge that they influenced a student’s future. Many teachers have stories of students that have come back years after graduation to share what their classes meant to them. One such student, Kendrick Lamar, a pop culture icon, had an opportunity to tell his story at his Rhode Island alma mater where he credited his English teacher for influencing his career to become a rapper. His teacher’s encouragement for writing poetry and his push to help Kendrick improve his vocabulary helped him in his current career.
There are currently eight places in Rhode Island that can prepare you to become an English teacher where you too can have the opportunity to shape a student’s future. To get you started on this exciting and rewarding path, follow the steps listed below to become an English teacher in Rhode Island:
|Complete a Teacher’s Prep Program and Earn a Degree|
|Take Competency Testing|
|Apply for Teaching Certification|
|Continuing with Your Education and Renewal|
Step 1. Complete a Teacher’s Prep Program and Earn a Degree
Becoming an English teacher in Rhode Island will start with your own education. The eight universities in Rhode Island approved by the State Board of Education all have programs ready to get you started. The general path many students tend to take will complete their education with the minimum bachelor and teacher prep program. This is not the only way to earn a teaching degree, but it is generally the quickest.
The core courses — once you pass your general education — will prepare you to teach many different subjects related to language arts. These course topics may include:
- English Literature
- Critical Thinking
- Creative Writing
- World Literature
- Modern Literature
- Historical Literature
The teacher preparation part of your program will offer courses that prepare you for the process of teaching. The courses will have topics or requirements such as:
- Student’s Development in Learning
- Lesson planning techniques
- Teaching cross culturally
- Understanding the learning process
- 12 internship hours
A standard bachelor’s degree program is comprised of approximately 124 semester hours. A master’s degree program will usually consist of an additional 36 hours. Some programs are available online allowing you to go to school and earn a master’s in teaching in a more convenient manner. This may be a good option if you have other obligations that you are trying to juggle such as a family or a fulltime job.
There are other options available to you apart from the traditional path. The One-Year Transitional Certificate, for instance, may be a good fit for your situation. This certificate allows you the opportunity to work as a teacher while at the same time completing your educational requirements for Rhode Island’s teacher preparation program.
This option is mainly for students that already earned a degree at some point and are now considering a career change. You must have a school official make this request and have a job in teaching English at a local school already assigned. You can apply for state licensing once all the necessary steps have been completed to earn the Initial Educator Certificate.
Step 2. Take Competency Testing
Those who wish to teach in Rhode Island will need to prove they have the skills needed to become a teacher. The next step in your licensing process is taking a series of exams. The standard core competency tests will show proficiency in mathematics, reading, and writing. The ETS testing organization will administer the exams. The exams are different for each grade level. For teachers of secondary grades you will need to take the core competency exams as well as an exam in English. Lower grade levels need to take exams designed to show proof of elementary school skills.
The exams all have a different number of questions and time limits. There are separate fees for each exam you attempt. When you register you can decide which exams you will take and when. They each have study material available to prepare you for the tests. You can download each PDF file for every test you plan to take. PDF readers are also available online where you can download them at no cost.
Step 3. Apply for Teaching Certification
Rhode Island’s teacher certificates are divided into levels and steps. The two levels are designated as dependent and independent. The English teaching certificate is a dependent one. This means that you are required to have a grade-specific certificate as well as an English certification. When you have selected the grade you will teach, you will also select the accompanying certificate.
Steps designate how many years you have taught. The initial step certification may be temporary if you are awarded the One-Year Transitional Certificate. This is part of the alternative teaching program available for students who chose that route.
The next step in certification is a Three Year Initial Educator Certificate. Once you have earned this certification and have taught for three years, you can then move to the next step.
The Five Year Professional Certificate is the highest certification you can earn. There are several things you will need to achieve before you can reach this level. The following items will serve as a basic checklist for those things:
- Original college transcripts from any school and/or program you attended
- A documented work experience letter
- Copies of your exam scores
- A fee for $100.00 (this is for the first certification only). There is an additional fee of $50.00 for the English certification.
All your documentation and the application will go to the following:
Rhode Island Dept. of Education
Office of Educator Quality and Certification
255 Westminster St., 4 TH floor
Providence, RI 02903 -3400
Step 4. Continuing With Your Education and Renewal
When the time comes for you to renew your certificate, there are a number of educational credits you need to complete in order to qualify and an Individual Development Plan (I-Plan) that will be required.
The I-Plan includes 150 hours of credits that meet your profession goals. The plan is created with an individual plan developer assigned to you. The goals are broken down into categories. There are twenty hours for each goal with five hours in each category. Goals may include many things that pertain to teaching such as:
- Showing students how to create a writing journal
- Develop note taking strategies
- Creating a friendly classroom environment
- Determining how English impacts other subject areas
The continuing educational professional development courses are available through the Rohde Island Department of Education. Each program contains five modules and allows you one year for completion.
Rhode Island English Teacher Salaries
Rhode Island has recently begun transitioning to a new form of assessments for student performance. The Partnership for Assessment for Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) is geared to determine a student’s abilities in high level math and English that will translate into career readiness when they leave school.
Along with the new assessments, teacher salaries have also adjusted to allow for increases for highly skilled teachers. Many schools have a base salary with added bonuses offered for teachers with additional education.
Schools in Providence district for instance will start at $38, 872 for entry-level English teachers. This would be the base for an English teacher with an undergraduate degree. This will change when a teacher adds college units. For example, a high school English teacher decides to earn a higher degree; she will earn the following set amounts for each increase in education and/or certification:
- Bachelor’s Plus 30: $2,455
- Master’s: $2,855
- Master’s Plus 30: $3,257
- Doctorate: $3,657
- National Board Stipend: $5,500
The English teacher in Cranston schools will have a different pay scale. She would start at $38,000 and then be able to earn additional increases based on education in the following increments:
- Bachelor’s Plus 30: $1,798
- Master’s: $3,032
- Master’s Plus 30: $3,865
- Doctorate: $5,174
- National Board Stipend: $4,000
They also offer longevity awards for teachers who stay in the district. This amount is between $1,064 and $1,628. Becoming a department chair adds another $1,600 or more to the yearly salary.