Exactly three weeks ago was the last day of school my principal called me up to receive a breathtaking bouquet of flowers from one of my favorite students, Nicolás, a charming first grader who is Bolivian-American and bilingual. Blessed Sacrament is the name of the Catholic school where I have been the sole Spanish teacher for grades K-8 for the past two years. My time at Blessed Sacrament has come to an end and has been the perfect place to practice teaching Spanish since completing my Master’s degree in teaching Spanish from the Instituto Franklin-UAH Teach & Learn in Spain Program in 2016. Now I move on to an exhilarating opportunity to teach middle school Spanish in an esteemed public school district.
If you are like me in that you discovered your passion for education while living in Spain as an English assistant, you may be wondering how the Teach & Learn in Spain Program can be of service to you and your career path. I participated in the Máster en Aprendizaje y Enseñanza del Español como Lengua Extranjera. Updating my resume with information about my Teach & Learn in Spain Program experience alone was enough to impress the principal of Blessed Sacrament back when he hired me in 2016. If you are a recent graduate of the Teach & Learn in Spain Program and plan to return to the US with teaching in mind, some of the following insights could give you direction as to how to proceed.
My mom was the one who found the job posting for Blessed Sacrament just days after I had finished my Master’s Thesis. I feared that my Master’s degree would not be enough to get me a teaching job right away in Massachusetts. I told my mom she was crazy to think I was already qualified, however she explained to me that to work in private education I did not necessarily need a public teaching license. This meant that even if I wanted to make the transition over to public education, I could press pause first on the paperwork without having to stop teaching. I wanted to enjoy my friends, family and not worry about getting my Master’s from Spain recognized right away. It gave me time to breathe.
Even more beneficial than simply taking a breather, I have realized that the past two years have been like a dress rehearsal for my upcoming position. I have found my own teaching style, refined my classroom management techniques, and prepared the necessary paperwork for moving on to public education. It was an overwhelming amount of work to be the only Spanish teacher for so many grades, but it was totally worth it as it gave me time to practice teaching without the pressure of state standards. I had time to mentally prepare for the next step and that is exactly what I started working towards this past January.
With a bit of focus and persistence, I was able to have my Master’s degree from Alcalá validated here in Massachusetts in order to get my Spanish teaching license for grades 5-12. The process consisted of the following general steps:
- Taking the MTELS (Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure).
- Requesting my Master’s transcripts from the Universidad de Alcalá.
- Getting my undergrad, Teach & Learn in Spain Program transcripts and my degree translated into English by a professional translator*.
- Uploading the translated documents for review by a state approved third party company called WES** (World Education Services).
- Submitting aforementioned documents and any other supplemental materials for approval by the Massachusetts Department of Education.
The most helpful information I could give you is this blog by Franklin Alumni Brandon Gatlin (Master in Bilingual and Multicultural Education 2013-2014) who has an excellent blog. Check out this specific post-graduation page that has screenshots taking you step by step. (HERE)
*If you are in need of a translator for your documents, the one I consulted comes highly recommended, please see my email below if you wish to have contact info.
**WES is one of many organizations that can evaluate your credits, I am not sponsored by them in any way but I am happy to endorse them.
Getting my license approved was not an easy feat as I managed my full time job at Blessed Sacrament. It was not a cheap process in that I had to pay for my license, the standardized tests, as well as the translation and evaluation services. However it was more affordable than having to enroll in another Master’s program here in Massachusetts. Despite the numerous steps I needed to take towards earning state licensure, it was worth the effort as I will begin my new position in August with a significant salary increase of 35%. I also will only be teaching middle school grades 6-8 which is a drastic difference from having to teach K-8. I am nervous for the new experience that will be teaching in public school when I have gotten accustomed to private, but my excitement outweighs any doubts or apprehension.
Back when I graduated with a Spanish major from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2013, friends and family would all tell me that I was “so brave” for moving to Spain for a year. Many people told me they “could never do it” which makes the experience feel that much more valuable to me. As a thriving teacher, I simply cannot imagine where I would be had I not taken the risk and lived in Alcalá for those three years. The two years I spent working for the Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte coupled with my year studying at Instituto Franklin-UAH were invaluable to giving my current students the most dynamic and authentic Spanish education I could offer them.
Franklin Alumni Máster en Aprendizaje y Enseñanza del Español como Lengua Extranjera 2015-2016
I would like to thank Iulia Vescan for working tirelessly and advocating on behalf of her students as well as my fellow Franklin Alumni for their support and guidance during this process.