I was under a deadline. After completing all my teacher credential courses, I walked away with a preliminary credential. To turn that preliminary credential (which could expire) to a legit one that I just needed to renew every few years, I had to secure a full time job for at least 2 years. I was given a 5 year window to complete this.
Five years is a long time and it is completely possible to get a job, but getting a job as a teacher is tricky. Also, getting a job you want to stay at and become tenured is also very tricky so I took the safer route.
In addition to completing my single subject credential in English, I pursued a Masters in Education with a focus on Curriculum and Instruction. I figured that the masters could help bolster my resume and set me apart among the other fresh teachers out there. More importantly, a masters does not expire.
In The Beginning…
I finished both the credential and masters courses within 2 years. It was a rough 2 years since I was working, student teaching (I don’t get paid for that) and completing a full course load every quarter, including summers. But I finished unscathed and relieved that I did.
When I secured that full time position, my educational credits placed me on the 2nd to last salary column. For my district, I was in column E out of A-F (F being the last column). For those of you who aren’t teachers, we don’t get to negotiate our salaries. There is a set pay scale with 5 to 6 columns. Your pay is determined by your education credits and your years of teaching. The more education you have and the more years you spend teaching, the higher your salary.
I felt like I was in a good place. It was my first year teaching and I was almost to the end of the pay scale. I also noticed that for my district, the first 3 years on column E and F was exactly the same. I would be paid the same for the first 3 years of teaching regardless if I was on E or F.I figured I had about 3 years to earn a few more credits to inch me closer to the F column.
In The Throes of Teaching…
My first few years were hard and my job became all consuming. The only way I earned additional education credit was because I was forced to. I had to complete a 2-year program called BTSA on top of my job because all new teachers had to do it. Although it was a repetition of my credential classes, the silver lining in the BTSA program was that I could earn credits for the work I was doing by paying a $150-200 at the end of the year.
I was also sent to a few conferences. At some teaching conferences, I was able to purchase graduate credits for attending. Since the district paid for me to attend the conference, I bought those credits.
In The Sweet Spot…
Now with a few years under my belt, I feel like I can breathe a little. Work is still busy but not as much as those first few years. I reached out to coworkers who suggested online classes via University of La Verne for those few extra credits I needed to move up in the pay scale.
I completed an online course about art museums over spring break that gave me that final push into column F. Unfortunately, this was done right before year 5 so I missed out on the few thousand pay increase from my year 4. If I’m honest with myself, I wouldn’t have been able to get those credits in year 4 anyway. At the time, my personal and work life was too hectic and I couldn’t carve out time to take the extra credits. I’m just glad I was able to move up on the pay scale sooner rather than later.