Getting Licensed to Teach in New Mexico

There are many pathways to teacher licensure in New Mexico, and there's likely one that's a good fit for you!

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Video Transcript

Hi everybody, this is Missy Wauneka with Teach For America New Mexico, here with a Teach New Mexico resource about the benefits and pathways to teaching in New Mexico.  So today’s resource is a big picture overview of the various pathways to teaching in New Mexico and I hope that this is sort of a one-stop shop no matter where you’re coming from, be it from another state or out of a traditional college of ed teaching program or hoping to learn more about alternative licensure programs or even ways into the classroom that are like substitute teaching or educational assistant pathways.  

I tried to cover all of that here, so I’m going to quickly walk through how you should use this flow chart and you can find the actual link to the flow chart underneath this video on our website or in the caption on YouTube and you’ll want to go directly to the resource, because that way you can access all of these hyperlinks that get you directly hooked into the relevant sites on the NM Public Education website.  

Here we go.  I’m going to start at the top and kind of work my way down.  I’m going to go from right to left, which I’ll say is maybe least complicated to most complicated in terms of the different steps. For those of you who have seen my resources before, you probably know I’m not super fancy. This is just a PDF document that I’m going to walk you through and, keeping with the not fancy fashion, I’m going to just highlight the potion that I’m talking about at any given moment so you can follow along with me. 

So, start at the top, for anybody who’s thinking “I want to become a teacher in New Mexico,” hopefully that’s you or maybe you know somebody.  We’re going to, again, start all the way on the right.  If you’re somebody who has a teaching license in another state, you would just go ahead and apply directly to the NMPED for reciprocity.  New Mexico’s very friendly to teaching licenses from other states, so you would go to the site, fill out a licensure application, and you should be able to get a NM teaching license.  If you want support with that you can reach out.  In terms of the type of license you might qualify for, which level, etc. we’re here to help.  The Public Education Department is also here to help you figure that out, but you should go right ahead and apply for reciprocity. 

So let’s look at the pathway for those who do not yet have a teaching license.  If you’re somebody who has a Bachelors degree in education, well, things are pretty straightforward for you.  Once you’ve completed your program and you have the transcripts to prove it, you just go right to the Public Education Department site and apply for that Level 1 teaching license. 

For those of you who don’t have a teaching license yet but have a Bahcelors in a field other than education, there are a couple different pathways you can take.  This is how I got into education.  I studied Biochemistry and then became a teacher and was a teacher for 9 years and went through one of these pathways.  Keeping with the left to right flow, we’ll look at this one that says “I have 5+ years of experience teaching at the postsecondary level.”  So, if you’ve got 5 or more years of teaching a particular subject to college students, you can apply for a 1-year internship license via something called the Alternative Post-Secondary Experience Pathway.  So long as you have 5 or more years, New Mexico counts that toward your qualification to be a k-12 teacher in New Mexico.  

Continuing on, another option is that you apply for what’s called an Alternative Teaching License.  You get accepted to an approved alternative licensure program and then you get trained nights and weekends during your first two years while you’re in the classroom.  This is the pathway I took and there are many great programs, depending on whether youre looking for online classes or what part of the state you’re in or what type of program you’re looking for.  There are licensure programs, Masters programs, and this link takes you to the different programs that are out there.  That’s something that I or Teach New Mexico can help you think through – what type of program might be a good fit for you.  As long as you have a Bachelors Degree you can apply for what’s called an alternative teaching license ant the state will give you two years to take teacher education courses and learn how to teach the practice and the theory while you’re spending your first couple years in the classroom.  It is a challenging pathway, but I know plenty of great educators who didn’t initially study education in college and decided later that they wanted to become a teacher.  This is the type of program that I and Teach new Mexico support people through most often, because it can be challenging, confusing, and not super well known.  We need great teacher and sometimes people who studied, you know, science or math in college can be especially great teachers and really have that deep understanding of their content knowledge. So if you have a Bachelors in a field other than education you can also take education coursework before you actually tsart teaching.  There are many different types of residency programs out there and Masters Programs out there that will prepare you for a year or two before you actually become the main teacher in charge of the classroom. That would also involve applying, being accepted into an approved training program.  The difference would be, with this pathway here, that you are doing the training first and teaching second whereas this pathway you’re doing those two things simultaneously.  

All right, let’s take a look at this far left pathway for people who want to become a teacher but don’t yet have a Bachelor’s degree. There are some options but just know that most teaching licenses do require a Bachelor’s degree.  A Native American Language and Culture Teacher needs a Native American Language and Culture Certificate.  If you have that certificate, then you can teach Native Languages and you are the full teacher of record, but you can’t move into other pathways.  It’s a difficult certificate to obtain and we need great teachers in this area.  You do not have to have a Bachelor’s Degree for that particular pathway and those Native Language and Culture positions.  There’s also an opportunity to be what’s called an Educational Assistant.  Most schools have Educational Assistant positions where you’re supporting students in classrooms in all sorts of ways, but you are not the main teacher leading in the classroom.  This is a way for folks who don’t yet have a Bachelors degree or even someone who does have a Bachelors but doesn’t want to be the full teacher of record.  To get experience in the classroom without taking on the full responsibility of leading.  There’s a different license application procedure and this link would take you to where you can apply and learn more about how to become an educational assistant.  There are tons of great incentives in New Mexico right now, supporting people in education assistant roles to move into teaching roles, so this is a great way to get experience in a school, get experience in a classroom, and become a school district employee as you work toward that education degree.

Finally there’s also the opportunity to become a substitute teacher.  You just need a high school diploma and to be able to pass a background check to become a substitute teacher.  If you’ve been following the news lately you know we really need excellent substitute teachers, and I think it’s a great way to get into the classroom and start to learn about the profession of teaching without being the full, year-long teacher because you’ll be using another teacher’s lesson plans and stepping in for short periods of time.  Right now, especially with COVID, we need excellent substitute teachers.  Even without COVID that is true all the time.  Substitute teachers are critical, and I encourage you – if you are interested in becoming a teacher in New Mexico but don’t yet have that Bachelor’s Degree or even if you do but aren’t ready to fully take on being the teacher of record all year, to consider becoming a substitute teacher first. 

All of the blue underlined text here are hyperlinks that take you to places on the Public Education Department website where you can learn more about how to begin the process of doinga ll these things and the pieces that are needed.  

Teach New Mexico is here to support you with any of these pathways.  If you’d like to have a personalized one on one consultation to learn more, we love doing that.  Anyone who is interested and excited to be a teacher in New Mexico – we want you to have the right information, support and financial incentives.  Hopefully that gave you an idea, no matter where you’re coming in, if you have the thought “I want to become a teacher in New Mexico” and you follow this flow chart as appropriate to you and your situation, hopefully that helped you understand what your next step might be.  Thank you everybody!