Career Clusters

Alternatives to Teach For America

If you are interested in teaching and you are not an education major, you may think that Teach For America is your only option. And while TFA does hire a number of BC graduates each year, there are many other paths into teaching for you to explore, including:

Note: These opportunities are also open to students receiving teacher licensure through the Lynch School.

Independent Schools

At the secondary school level, most independent schools do not require that you be certified to teach. But you should have experience teaching somewhere. At the very least, you need to have some experience working directly with young people. At the elementary school level, most independent schools do require coursework in teaching methods and some require state certification.

The benefits of teaching at an independent school:

  • You have a great deal of autonomy in designing and teaching curriculum.
  • You are part of a community that values subject expertise, teaching, and learning.
  • Classes are generally small.
  • The students you teach are committed to learning and are generally quite able academically. Their families are usually committed to and involved in their children’s education.
  • Teachers at many independent schools contribute to students’ growth outside the classroom. At the secondary level, the ability to coach one or more sports or to advise a major extracurricular activity such as theater or a student publication is valued in applicants.

Some independent schools offer associate teacher programs or fellowships that offer a great way for early career teachers to gain hands on experience. Most programs provide you with a year in a classroom assisting an experienced teacher, taking on more teaching responsibilities as the year goes along. Some of these programs also include a graduate school component, often partly financed by the school. Examples of well-established associate teacher programs include The Park School’s Teaching Apprenticeship, Greenwich Country Day Co-Teacher Program, and the Independent School Teaching Residency

View our guide for more information on teaching in independent schools, associate teacher programs, and using independent school teacher placement agencies to find jobs.

The hiring timeline for independent schools is much earlier than for most other schools. In a typical year, hiring begins in December and January.

Catholic Schools

As with independent schools, most Catholic schools do not require state certification or licensure. You do not need to identify as Catholic, however it is important that you be living a faith-based life. In addition, Catholic schools often offer a more challenging academic experience to students and you should be well prepared to teach your particular academic discipline.

The benefits of teaching at a catholic school:

  • You have the opportunity to teach and model a values-centered approach to life.
  • Classes are frequently smaller than in the public schools, and there are fewer discipline problems. Parental cooperation and involvement tends to be high.
  • Many Catholic schools provide a more rigorous educational experience to students who would otherwise attend underserved urban public schools.
  • A handful of Catholic schools offer Associate Teacher programs, including Nativity Preparatory School in Boston and Nativity School of Worcester.

The down side to teaching at a catholic school:

  • Salaries at Catholic schools tend to be lower than at other schools.
  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, some schools have struggled to remain open when parents have been unable to afford tuition for their children.

If you feel a commitment to teach in a Catholic school, consider The University Consortium for Catholic Education. You will teach in an underserved urban or rural area and work towards a tuition-free Master’s degree. In some cases, small communities of four to seven members live together and share the many challenges and rewards of beginning teaching and are encouraged to develop their spirituality. They have thirteen programs across the U.S., including BC’s own Urban Catholic Teacher Corps.

View our guide for more information on teaching in catholic schools.

Charter Schools

Charter schools are public schools authorized by the state department of education. They operate tuition free for students in the state. Founders are generally teachers, parents, or community members who come together to create schools around certain core values. Their mission is to bridge the achievement gap of students. Most charter schools will hire exceptional teachers who have not been through a teacher training program.

The benefits of teaching at a charter school:

  1. Since charter schools are mission driven, they tend to attract teachers and administrators who believe in that vision and are excited to work together as a team to realize that vision. 
  2. Charter school faculty and administrators have greater freedom to set the goals of the school, plan its operation, and create the curriculum. 
  3. Many charter schools like to hire recent graduates and offer superior mentoring and supervision of new teachers. 

The down side to teaching at a charter school:

  • Some charter schools focus on improving their students’ test scores.
  • Some schools mandate that their teachers follow a carefully laid out curriculum. This can free teachers up to spend their time teaching and tutoring without having to develop lesson plans nightly, but other teachers will find this unnecessarily restrictive on their creativity.

Some charter schools offer associate teacher programs. In the Boston area, some of the best programs include the Match Associate Teacher Program, Match Teacher Residency, and the Edward Brooke Associate Teacher Program.

Independent Programs

Teach For America is the best known of the hands-on teacher training programs, but prospective teachers can choose from many reputable programs around the country, including:

Urban Teachers: Co-founded by Boston College alumni Christina Hall, Urban Teachers provides fellows with three years of expert coaching and support and a master’s degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Education. Baltimore, DC, Dallas.

Boston Teacher Residency: BTR combines a yearlong classroom apprenticeship with targeted master’s level coursework. The same faculty teach your courses, coach you in their school settings, and hold you accountable for your students’ learning.  One third of your $10,000 program cost is waived for each year you commit to teaching in the Boston Public Schools.

TNTP Teaching Fellows: TNTP Teaching Fellows participate in an immersive summer training followed by teaching full-time the fall, along with evening seminars, virtual learning modules, and one-on-one coaching⁠. Over 60 percent of Fellows identify as people of color. Costs are lower than most programs. Baltimore, Indianapolis, New Orleans, LA, Minnesota, Nevada.

Donovan Urban Teaching Scholars: This one-year master’s program in the Lynch School includes interactive urban education seminars, social justice education, and community building that is responsive to the academic and socio-cultural needs of urban youth and their families. Two-thirds of every incoming cohort are First Generation, Educators of Color, and all Donovan Scholars receive 50% tuition remission.

If you are interested in exploring alternative pathways to teaching, I invite you to schedule an appointment with me to discuss your options. I also recommend you join the Education, Nonprofit, and Social Service cluster to receive bi-weekly emails with resources to help you prepare for a career in education.

Peter Hunt
—By Peter Hunt, Assistant Director, Career Education

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