Whether you left a former teaching profession to care for your children, or took a break to pursue other career options, returning to teaching can be more challenging than going back to work in other fields.
Join us for our podcast as we sit down with the Chair of Teacher Education at Lewis and Clark's Graduate School of Education and Counseling, Kimberly Campbell, to discuss how newly divorced individuals can re-enter the workforce and restart their career in teaching. Kimberly and Steve will be answering the following:
• What do I need in order to restart (or start) my teaching career?
• What does the process look like to update teaching certifications, and what are the current education and license requirements?
• How long does it take to get back into teaching, and is there a need for teachers right now?
• How long is the student teaching experience?
• Is it too late to re-start a teaching career, or too expensive?
• …and much more!
If you would like to speak with one of our family law attorneys or connect further with Kimberly, please call our office at (503) 227-0200, visit our website at https://www.landerholmlaw.com, or email Kimberly at [email protected]
Disclaimer: Nothing in this communication is intended to provide legal advice nor does it constitute a client-attorney relationship, therefore you should not interpret the contents as such.
Welcome to Modern Family Matters, a podcast devoted to exploring family law topics that matter most to you. Covering a wide range of legal, personal, and family law matters, with expert analysis from skilled attorneys and professional guests, we hope that our podcast provides answers, clarity, and guidance towards a better tomorrow for you and your family. Here's your host, Steve Altishin.
Steve Altishin 0:31
Well Hi everyone. I'm Steve Altishin, Director of Client Partnerships here at Pacific Cascade Family Law. Today, I'm here with Professor Kimberly Campbell, Chair of Teacher Education at Lewis and Clark's Graduate School of Education, to talk about restarting a teaching career, even after a divorce. So good morning, Kim! Before we start in on this, can you just tell us a little bit about yourself?
Kimberly Campbell 0:58
Sure. I have the privilege of being Chair of Teacher Education at Lewis and Clark College. I'm also the Mary Stewart Rogers Professor of Education. And I work with English, Language Arts, and people who are wanting to teach middle school and high school.
Steve Altishin 1:12
Well, it sounds like you're certainly the person we should talk to on this subject. So Kim, a little disclosure, we've known each other for more years than we can count. And I'm going to call you Kim, if that's okay, because used to that.
Kimberly Campbell 1:28
Please do, please do.
Steve Altishin 1:28
So I imagine there are a lot of folks coming off a divorce, or maybe their kids have grown up and are headed off to college, who are wondering if returning to teaching, or even maybe starting a new teaching career, is worth pursuing at this stage of their lives. I mean, they may be thinking, is it too hard? Is it expensive? Am I too old? So let's kind of start with that question that they may ask, and the one that I would, I guess for me, start with, which is: is there any room for teachers anymore?
Kimberly Campbell 2:09
Yes! In fact, I can tell you right now, there are not enough teachers in Oregon. We have a number of schools with open positions. So it has been a huge shift from what was a highly competitive market, and still is in some areas. But we have a number of teachers who have decided to retire, in some cases earlier than they might have imagined, because, you know, COVID has had a real impact on schools. But we're definitely seeing that we're, at least in theory, coming out of it now. There's also a national prediction, because we have an aging population of teachers that are eligible for retirement. I'm heartened that they chose not to retire,ut they are starting to retire now. So it is going to be a booming market, and they're predicting it will be a shortage area in another year or two.
Steve Altishin 3:01
I believe it. I mean, you know, the baby boomers. They now call us the gray-by boomers!
Kimberly Campbell 3:08
Yes! It's time.
Steve Altishin 3:11
It's time. So let's just kind of start with some basics. Like, what are some of the basic requirements for teaching in Oregon? Because I know for people who are either getting back in or haven't done it, they may not be what they used to be.
Kimberly Campbell 3:28
Right. So in Oregon, you need to have a bachelor's degree. And most teachers in Oregon end up having a master's degree, particularly at the secondary level, which is middle school and high school. So it starts with that. And depending on where you went to school, if you want to teach elementary school, there are some expectations around math and science background. At our institution, our elementary Program Director, a lovely woman named Linda Griffin, will work with you if you don't have that coursework. She can do an assessment to determine if there's any additional coursework needed. If you want to teach at the secondary level-- middle school or high school-- you'll be teaching a subject area. So we'll look at your background in that subject area, either that you have a degree in the field or you have a related degree and some other experience.
Steve Altishin 4:21
And this is something you can get, I imagine. If, for instance, you want to teach in secondary school and you want to teach geography, but you you didn't have as much geography maybe as you wanted, that's something you can do. You can go back and get that.
Kimberly Campbell 4:39
Yeah. In fact, we have a lot of people take courses at the community college level, and just bolster their background and do that. And you can do that even in the process of applying to a master's program, and we will work with you and make recommendations about what courses you need to take.
Steve Altishin 4:56
If someone wants to get--let's say, teaching English as a second language, or something like that-- is that a kind of a special thing that you also maybe need to get?
Kimberly Campbell 5:11
Yeah, they're called "add on endorsements" in Oregon. So in our master's program, we have the option of teacher candidates, or beginning teachers, adding on the English speakers of other languages, because it's such a high need area in Oregon. So you can do it at the same time you earn your master's degree by adding some extra hours. The advantage of that is, you're eligible for financial aid, if it's part of a degree program. That's why we've tied it to our master's degree. You can also earn a reading intervention endorsement and a special education endorsement beyond the master's degree.
Steve Altishin 5:48
It sounds, like you said, there's lots of stuff out there.
Kimberly Campbell 5:52
There's lots of stuff.
Steve Altishin 5:53
So, okay, I'm looking back, thinking about getting into teaching again. How hard is it? I'm wondering how much it costs? Am I too old? You know, those kinds of things. What kinds of things should I think about maybe before making this decision and starting in?
Kimberly Campbell 6:13
Sure. So if you've been a teacher, you would reach out to the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission, and they would tell you what you need to do to renew or reinstate your teaching license. They're the experts on it, because they handle licensing. And so when I left teaching, and then came back, I had to do a certain number of graduate credit hours to renew my teaching license. You may also have to take a standardized test. Oregon requires standardized tests for elementary school in what's called 'Multiple Subjects', because you teach everything. And at the secondary level, it's a test in your subject area. We used to have a civil rights exam, but we no longer have that requirement for people who are in master's programs. We're handling that information in our education coursework. But if you are coming back to teaching, you're probably going to have to take a standardized civil rights test.
Steve Altishin 7:08
Yeah, that makes sense.
Kimberly Campbell 7:10
Yeah, it's important.
Steve Altishin 7:12
The expectations, I imagine, now of being a teacher, from maybe someone who was a teacher 20-25 years ago, it's a little different environment.
Kimberly Campbell 7:23
Steve Altishin 7:24
So what about folks who want to start in, they weren't teachers before, but they always kind of thought they maybe want to be. Does this sort of apply to them, if they'll have the time to do this?
Kimberly Campbell 7:41
Right. So I will actually say that's the majority of the people with whom we work in our master's program. There are people that are coming to us who have been doing other things, but in the back of their minds, they've always been interested in teaching. And we really believe that teaching is a vocation, that you're called to do it. And so when you hear that call, like, 'Oh, this is really what I've always wanted to do,'-- one of our current candidates said that, 'I just want to feel that, at the end of the day, I've done something that's meaningful.' And left a pretty high powered career to come into teaching, and also is a parent of three school aged children and finds that ultimately, the teaching profession is going to allow her to balance both being a parent and having a profession that she really feels good about.
Steve Altishin 8:29
What sort of timeline are people looking at? I'm assuming they can't get back into teaching in 30 days. I mean, I don't know. Right?
Kimberly Campbell 8:39
So if you've been a teacher, you may be able to get back in a matter of months by doing these additional courses and any required testing. If you're starting a master's program, our master's program is a 13 month program. We start in June, and then run to July of the following year. It's a full time program with coursework and a year long student teaching or teaching practicum experience.
Steve Altishin 9:05
You start in June. So if someone's thinking about it, now we're in early October, when do they kind of need to start actually applying or doing something?
Kimberly Campbell 9:19
Right. So our applications are due just after the first of the year, so early January. We are having and hosting information sessions now. So we have a virtual information session that you can access through our website. And then we also do some zoom information sessions, both for elementary and for secondary, so that you can meet with a faculty member, as well as interested other applicants and get a better sense of how the program works, and then apply in January. We try and make our decisions for applicants by early March, so that you can go through the financial aid process and get all set up, and then we start the middle of June with orientation and coursework.
Steve Altishin 10:03
Are there different programs if someone wants to come in and they want to teach kindergarten, or they want to teach fourth grade, or they want to teach, you know, AP science in high school?
Kimberly Campbell 10:21
Right. So interestingly, Oregon has what's called a K12 license, which is a little misleading, because it's actually a K12 license, but what you can teach is based on your endorsement. So if you want to teach kindergarten through fifth grade, that's an elementary endorsement. And that means you're going to be teaching multiple subjects. So smaller, one class of kids, but you teach everything. If you are a secondary person and want to teach like AP something or English language arts, or science, or math, or a world language, then you're going to be focusing and getting an endorsement in that specific content area.
Steve Altishin 11:01
Are those actually different programs at Lewis and Clark? So if I'm going to do one, I'll go into that, or I'll go into that... is that how it works?
Kimberly Campbell 11:10
Yeah. We've put a lot of emphasis on making sure you're prepared to teach multiple subjects. So in our elementary program, you learn how to teach literacy, you learn how to teach math, social studies, science, PE, and art, because you're teaching everything. In the secondary program, you're learning how to teach your content area. So I teach a class called 'Teaching Language Arts to Adolescents' in the fall. And then in the spring, we look at curriculum and instruction in the field of English language arts.
Steve Altishin 11:39
So okay, hold on, just between you and me, is math that hard now?
Kimberly Campbell 11:43
Oh my God.
Steve Altishin 11:44
I remember it was like a barrier for me thinking, 'I don't think I can teach math anymore'.
Kimberly Campbell 11:48
So what's great about what's changed about math is that it's focusing more on process, as opposed to just coming up with the answer. Like really helping kids understand, how did you come up with that answer? So you're not just memorizing formulas, which is what I felt like I was doing in geometry and could never figure out why. So what's great about math is, at the secondary level, they actually have what's called Basic and Advanced Math so that if you want to teach Middle School, you could choose to do a basic math endorsement. So you don't have to have the higher level of math expertise, like calculus. But we also have an advanced math level for people who really love and are passionate about math.
Steve Altishin 12:29
If I want to get one of these extra endorsements, is that part of this 13 month program? Or is that going to be an addition to that, or how does that work?
Kimberly Campbell 12:39
Great. So in our program, if you want to add English speakers of other languages, it adds another four to six weeks to your program. But you would be finished in August. But you'll be taking additional classes in how to meet the needs of English speakers of other languages. They are our fastest growing population in Oregon. And so really being able to speak to their needs is important. I want to be clear, we talk about how to work with those students in our full time MAT program. But if you want to specialize in that, if that's really your passion, then you can add on that additional endorsement. If you want to do a special ed endorsement, or reading intervention endorsement, you can add that on. Those classes are all in the evenings, so you can add it on while you are teaching.
Steve Altishin 13:25
So you can get, in a lot of cases, 13 months, and be ready to go.
Kimberly Campbell 13:32
Ready to go.
Steve Altishin 13:33
So let's talk a little bit about how your programming is structured. Maybe follow us through the 13 months a little bit.
Kimberly Campbell 13:41
Sure. So our summer is designed to give you some foundational backgrounds that we're going to build on. So you take a class that looks at-- I call it the 30,000 foot view of education--social, historical, and ethical foundations. How did we get where we are, and really looking at some of the challenges that we're facing in schools. For example, the school to prison pipeline, because we aren't always making thoughtful decisions about discipline. You'll also look at an elementary child development and secondary adolescent development, what's going on in the heads and the bodies of these students with whom we're working. You'll take a class called culturally responsive teaching, which will help you think about English speakers of other languages, but also all kids. What unique gifts do they bring to the classroom? And how do we create curriculum that builds on those backgrounds and gifts? And then you'll take a content area elective, or subject area elective, in the secondary program. So for example, problems and statistics for folks earning a math degree, or economics, if you're getting a Social Studies degree. In English Language Arts, it's teaching young adult's and children's literature. If you're an elementary, you're going to take a PE class, an art class, an introductory math class, and introductory literacy class.
Steve Altishin 15:01
This is all in the summer course?
Kimberly Campbell 15:03
This is all in the summer. And in the fall, you will be working at your school practicum site. So you're in a classroom working with what we call a "mentor/teacher" for an entire year. And you are, again, taking classes that provide those foundations. So a content area class. In our secondary program, we do a literacy and teacher research class, because everybody teaches literacy, regardless of your content area. You'll also take-- we have a seminar class that really allows you to explore the profession of teaching, and also what's happening at your practicum site. So it looks at issues related to that, as well as getting our candidates ready for the assessment method we use in their student teaching practicum. So they're doing that. So there's a lot of coursework that interchanges and exchanges with your practicum sites. So it feels both theoretical and practical, at the same time.
Steve Altishin 15:57
It seems like it's a really rounded way to not only get you into teaching, but to expand your ability to teach.
Kimberly Campbell 16:09
Right. We had a language arts candidate this year that had a change in her placement unexpectedly. Her teacher had to take a leave of absence, and so she was not yet in a placement for a week or two. And she commented on how much more powerful it is, now that she's in a classroom practicum experience, and can connect what we're talking about in classes with what she's seeing out at her practicum site. So it's really important that they have this practicum experience. It's also really challenging, because you have to figure out how to balance being a graduate student, and working as a teacher candidate. So we work really hard with our students on how to do that. We spend a lot of time talking about balance, and self care, and developing habits of resilience. Because teaching is hard, hard work. And we want our folks to stay in the profession. So we're really grounding them in that experience while they're in the program.
Steve Altishin 17:01
That makes so much sense. You're not dooming them to fail by not getting them really ready.
Kimberly Campbell 17:09
Right. So I will tell you, I am the example of a teacher who taught for three years and then burned out and left the profession. So I've lived that experience, and didn't feel valued, and didn't feel like I was doing anything other than teaching myself right into the ground because I was working so hard. So I can draw on that experience and talking with candidates about what I wish I would have known going in, because when I came back to teaching, I had a much better skill set for finding that balance.
Steve Altishin 17:38
That makes sense. So, I know we talked about this once, about the kind of model that you use. Do you call them cohorts?
Kimberly Campbell 17:50
We do. We use a cohort model.
Steve Altishin 17:53
What is that?
Kimberly Campbell 17:54
So this also goes to this notion of resilience. We want our teacher candidates to know each other well and feel supported by each other. So we create, in the secondary program, they are mixed subject area cohorts. They run between 18 and 22 students, and they will have at least one class every term together. And so they get actually quite close with each other, and they socialize and support each other, because they're all sharing this same experience. And in the elementary program, same thing, they're in a cohort group so that they can talk with people who are living what they are living, and find support with each other in that way. And what we found is that those cohorts stay connected years after the program. We had a 10 year reunion just a couple years ago with one of our cohort groups. And it was just amazing, to not only hear how they had stayed connected, but also how much they valued being with each other. It's really powerful.
Steve Altishin 18:53
What's the dropout rate, for want of a better word? Once someone gets into the program like this, it sounds like most of them go all the way through it.
Kimberly Campbell 19:02
They do. You know, every once in a while, it's it's probably one to two candidates, if any, will decide this just isn't the right fit for me. We had a secondary science candidate step out at the end of the summer. And he said, 'I realized that it was,'-- it was a man in his 40s, and he said-- 'I realized at this time in my life, I don't have the level of commitment that I want to have to be the teacher I want to be. This just isn't the right time for me.' And we fully respect that. We're very clear, you really have to want to do this work. You can't phone it in. It takes a lot, and particularly the first couple of years of teaching, when you're really still developing the craft of teaching. Although we're always developing the craft of teaching, it takes a tremendous commitment. So I really respected that decision. But generally people that come to us have been thinking about teaching for quite a while and it's really their opportunity to, despite the challenges, dive in and do work that's important. I will tell you, when you're in a classroom and watch a student connect with a book, or write a beautiful sentence, or understand a mathematical concept, and you get to witness that, there isn't anything that's more exciting than that. It's really powerful.
Steve Altishin 20:05
I like that. My joy is always to see a semi colon used correctly.
Kimberly Campbell 20:28
Steve Altishin 20:29
What about students of yours that are English as a second language folks themselves? Is there a place for them in this program?
Kimberly Campbell 20:42
Absolutely. In fact, one of our new exciting opportunities is we now have a part time elementary program for folks who are working as instructional assistants. So we have partnered with the Beaverton school district, and are supporting their instructional assistants in earning their master's degree in teaching over a two year period. And many of those teacher candidates, English is not their first language. It was our goal to create an opportunity to really attract those kinds of teacher candidates, because it's so powerful for students in classrooms to work with the teacher who understands what it is to be learning English. It's a gift to the profession to have somebody who knows, in some cases, several languages. So we're very much committed to that. We also have people in our full time program who are coming in as English speakers of other languages.
Steve Altishin 21:35
Yeah, absolutely. What about out of state folks? Let's say someone has been a teacher in Ohio, then moved to Oregon and got married. Now, they're 20 years later, and they want to get back into it. What issues do they have?
Kimberly Campbell 21:54
So they're also going to reach out to the teacher standards and practices commission to find out what the requirements are for an Oregon license. Oregon actually has pretty high requirements for it's license. But teacher standards and practices commission will work with you on what you need to add on an Oregon teaching license. We also have a situation where you can come into the state of Oregon and maybe get an emergency teaching license while you're finishing up the additional coursework you need. That also works the other way around. The advantage of an Oregon teaching license is it travels really well to other states. So we have a number of our candidates who decide to move after they've finished their MAT program, and we have not had a situation yet where they could not start teaching right away in a new state, and then add on that state's teaching license.
Steve Altishin 22:46
So I'm going to talk about something a little near and dear to your heart, I know. And that is the student teaching requirement, because that's you! That's what you do on a daily basis. How does that part work? And why is it so dang long?
Kimberly Campbell 23:07
So our program has chosen to do a year long teaching practicum because we think being in a classroom and seeing kids from the very beginning of the year to the end of the year is absolutely crucial, because school years have a rhythm. And we want you to experience what it's like to teach in September versus what it's like to teach in April. We also want our coursework to be grounded in the practical application of a classroom. So we have assignments in our courses that our students are doing at their practicum sites, so that they really have a chance to experience that. So it's really important and powerful. We take very seriously what classrooms we place them in. So we create a pool of cooperating teachers or mentors with whom we want to work because we've had success with them in the past, or we've met with them, or they're graduates of our program. And then we have our candidates meet with the potential mentor that we think would be a good fit for them. And both parties, the candidate and the mentor, have to agree that this feels like a good fit. If you're going to spend a year in somebody's classroom learning to teach, I want that candidate to feel like their mentor teacher has their back and is absolutely there to support them.
Steve Altishin 24:19
And the mentor, which is the teacher in the room, I take it, is that for the whole year, the whole time, or do they go to different ones?
Kimberly Campbell 24:28
That's the whole time. We really learned that building that relationship is crucial. We provide opportunities for the candidates to observe other teachers in the building and get to know other people, but that mentor/teacher, or cooperating teacher, is the person who's gonna take you all the way through.
Steve Altishin 24:43
So the process of it is kind of holistic. It feels like to me, it really covers a lot of stuff other than just you know, this is how you give an A, and this is how you give a grade.
Kimberly Campbell 24:59
Right, right. It's all about that. It's about, how do you build relationships with each of your students, so that they feel valued and known? That's the foundation. If you have that, the methodology of lesson planning and assessment works. If you don't have that, all the methodology in the world isn't going to help a kid learn if that student doesn't believe that you care about them and know them.
Steve Altishin 25:25
Do you get feedback from administrators, or principals, on how this program is working? What do they say?
Kimberly Campbell 25:35
Yes. We take that feedback really seriously. So one of the things they say is that, because we've had a year long practicum, our students come in with a level of experience that really benefits the administrator that hires them. And they also value the amount of time and energy we put into content preparation. So in the words of one administrator, 'Your candidates know what they're doing. And more importantly, they know why they're doing it'. So there are very skilled in meeting the needs of each student in the classroom, because each one of them is unique.
Steve Altishin 26:08
And you talked about this live, but I just kind of wanted to, I guess, emphasize that, you know, for someone teaching 10-20 years ago, there's a diversity of topics that could scare them from not wanting to re-enter. But it seems like you've covered a lot of that.
Kimberly Campbell 26:22
We do, we do. And we start, as I said, with that intentional focus on knowing the cultural background of each of your students.
Steve Altishin 26:32
So this program sounds really, really cool.
Kimberly Campbell 26:36
Steve Altishin 26:37
And it sounds like it's the type of thing that that really fits the kind of people I'm kind of talking about, at least today, which are either people coming off of a divorce, or their kids have just left. Do you get those people?
Kimberly Campbell 26:50
Oh, we get tons of those people. I just had a candidate last year who was, you know, balancing meeting the needs of his elementary school age son, because he and his wife had recently been divorced, and also learning to become a teacher. And it was really fun. We were doing mostly online teaching then. So his son frequently was attending our class session. So we got to know him, in addition to knowing his dad.
Steve Altishin 27:13
I like it. Now, this is a commitment. We talked about that; this is commitment. Is it a full time, I can't do any other work, and I can't have any other job, this is it, kind of commitment? Or is there some wiggle room, or how's that?
Kimberly Campbell 27:32
Yeah. So I mean, we call it a full time program. Having said that, you know, I have candidates this year who are parents, and then I have some who are also working part time jobs. It's tough, and I wonder sometimes about when they sleep, but we are absolutely committed to supporting them and helping them meet all the expectations of the program. And the teaching profession, I mean, when I went back to teaching high school, that's when I also started my family. And I was able to do that, because the teaching profession has some flexibility. Like, my hours were seven to three, so I could be home in the afternoons when my kids were little, little. And that was really helpful for me. And I also had summers. And I know there's criticism of teachers having summers off. I will tell you, you're going to earn your summer off, because you're going to work about the same number of hours you would work in a full year, you're just going to do it in nine months. But what that does is give you some of this flexibility because some of your work can be done at home.
Steve Altishin 28:29
That makes complete sense. So for folks who are thinking about it, is there someone they can come and talk to? Is there a support person, either before they actually decide to join, or while they're in the middle of it? Even about things like, you know, how they can pay for it, or how they can live through it?
Kimberly Campbell 28:36
Yeah, so we have, and it's on our website, we have a great admissions department that will help with that. But it's actually the faculty members with whom you will work who are going to be your support people. So we have information sessions via zoom, we have a virtual information session. And once you take advantage of that, one of us, one of our faculty members, will follow up with you. We have a phenomenal financial aid person who is devoted to the graduate school and handles all of the graduate school candidates. So we really put together a pretty powerful supportive team while you're in the admissions process, and then we keep that going.
Steve Altishin 29:29
And if someone needs a couple more hours, you know, they almost got through in terms of getting their baccalaureate, do you work with them? How's that work?
Kimberly Campbell 29:40
Absolutely. Yeah, if you're finishing up your undergraduate degree, it's a great idea to reach out to us. I've already had two people reach out to me this fall saying, you know, 'I'm finishing up, I'm going to graduate this summer, am I taking all the right courses I need?' We welcome those conversations.
Steve Altishin 29:44
So someone can call and say, 'I'm thinking about it. I need this'? And I think we talked earlier about some people even go to community college because it doesn't cost as much. So you've got someone who can help them with that?
Kimberly Campbell 30:06
Right. One more thing we have is we have what we call 'admissions ambassadors'. So we have a current candidate, a current MAT candidate, who will reach out to people who apply to our program and share their own experience as a candidate, so that you can talk to somebody who's doing the program right now. And you know, they certainly have an insight about the experience that's different than mine as a faculty member.
Steve Altishin 30:28
Well, this is a soup to nuts program. It is. I think that people who are thinking about it absolutely should contact someone there. How would they go about that?
Kimberly Campbell 30:42
So they can check our website, and the admissions department will link them up with these information sessions that I've talked about. And they'll also give you the name of a faculty member there. Also, I'm also happy to have them reach out to me.
Steve Altishin 30:56
I love it. Wow, well, shoot, 30 minutes come and gone.
Kimberly Campbell 31:02
Steve Altishin 31:03
So thanks so much, Kim, for joining us today. I mean, you provided expertise and insight for anyone who is thinking about restarting or starting a teaching career. Thank you so much.
Kimberly Campbell 31:16
Steve Altishin 31:18
I also want to thank everyone, again, who's tuned in today. Anyone who has any questions on today's topic, you can post it here. You can shoot me an email at [email protected], and I can hook you up with Kim. Or, you can send Kim an email-- I believe email is on the site right now, posted. Again, for everybody then, until next time, stay safe. Stay happy. Have a great day.
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