Questions About the Profession of English Teaching
1. Am I likely to get a job once I graduate?
2. What can I do to make myself more attractive to schools looking for an English teacher?
3. How can I find out more about the faculty who will be teaching me?
4. Where can I get more information about Teacher Education at Stony Brook University?
5. It sure takes a lot of work to become an English teacher. Is it really worth it?
English teachers are not exactly in tremendous demand in high-paying, suburban districts. The state of the national economy has put additional burdens on school district budgets. But the situation is far from dismal. Every year, some graduates find employment as tenure-track English teachers on Long Island, and many others find such employment after a year or two of substitute teaching—most as long-term subs (who teach the same class for a period of time, for example as the regular teacher is on maternity or paternity leave or sick leave). Teachers are always needed in New York City and other urban areas, and while they tend to pay less than suburban districts, teaching in NYC is far more positive, safe, and affirming than most people think. You should be open to teaching there. Also, other urban areas throughout NYS and the country are in great need of English teachers. If you are willing or interested in moving, employment opportunities for English teachers increase dramatically. Also, see above for the answer to “Can I teach in other states if I earn NYS teacher certification?”
The more experience you have actually working with adolescents in educational settings, the better. Consider non-school settings, such as commercial tutoring agencies, summer camps, not-for-profit organizations (such as museums, community literacy programs, volunteer organizations). Be sure to gain diverse experience in the schools you select for field experience. You might also consider trying to publish in a local newspaper or journal for English teachers (The English Record (New York State English Council) and English Journal (National Council of Teachers of English) are good choices).
Stony Brook has assembled a talented and experienced faculty in English and Teacher Education. To find out more about our faculty, see the Professional Education Program Faculty Directory (click on faculty members’ names to see their biography) and see the English Department Faculty page.
See the Professional Education Program Website for more information. In particular, see the PEP Guide to Teacher Education, which is a 100-page document that describes our philosophy, structure, and policies. Those interested in the MAT Program should also see the SPD Student Handbook.
There is no more important work on the planet than helping young people develop into literate, critical citizens. There is no more satisfying feeling than watching a young person realize his or her potential and knowing you were a part of it. Teachers do get a lot of public attention and not all of it is positive, but no one questions the importance of English teachers. It is nice to be wanted and needed. No English teacher goes to sleep at night wondering if he or she is helping make the world a better place. Our work can make a tremendous difference in one student’s whole life and in the life of a community. It’s hard not to get emotional when you think about what an English teacher can realize in helping students learn to use language to change the world for the better. As Henry James said, teachers never know how far their influence goes. Sure, it’s an awesome responsibility to be a teacher, and so it is an awesome amount of work to become a good teacher. But is it worth it? Absolutely!
Department of English, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794-5350 - Undergraduate: 631 632-7400 | Graduate: 631 632-7373