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Hello everyone, this is Missy Wauneka with Teach For America New Mexico, and I’m going to do a quick video that walks you through what you need and how to apply for an alternative teaching license through the NM Public Education department. It can be a little confusing sometimes and there are some things that you want to have ready ahead of time. Hopefully this video can help you prepare for and understand how to navigate the process smoothly.
I’ going to start us off on the alternative licensure program opportunities page on the NM Public Education Department website. If you just Google “New Mexico Public Education Department Alternative Licensure Program” you can usually get here that way and this has lots of great information. It has lots of information about the different opportunities to pursue alternative licensure. I should probably name that alternative licensure typically means somebody who wants to go into education or become a teacher but did not major in education in college, so they’ve already got a Bachelor’s degree in some other field and want to transition into education as a career change.
For example, I studied biochemistry in undergrad but then decided I wanted to become a teacher, and I went through an alternative licensure program and got an alternative teaching license for two years with the state of NM and got some training during my first couple years of teaching and then went on to continue teaching with a full teaching license. SO this is how to get that initial alternative license that allows you to become a teacher even if you didn’t major in education in college. So, the one I’m going to focus on here is the alternative educator prep program. I’m going to click on that. Again, lots of great information. I’m going to focus on the items you would want to have prepared before you actually go fill out your licensure application. So, there are some things that you need to have in place before you click this link that takes you to the licensure portal. We will be doing that, but before that you want to make sure you have your items lined up. You’re going to have to be ready to pay a $150 licensure fee. You’re going to fill out the application eventually, and we’ll go there momentarily. You’re going to want to be ready to have your official transcripts that show you earned a Bachelor’s degree sent directly to the NM Public Education Department. You can do those hard copy or email is probably the best way. Official electronic transcripts sent directly to <a>email@example.com</a>.
Now this piece here that says a letter of acceptance into an approved alternative teacher education program is really important. Before you are allowed to submit a licensure application that will get you that alternative license you have to have selected and been accepted into an alternative teacher education program. Those are run through most higher education institutions: 4-year institutions, community college programs. We work closely with a program called Leading Educators through Alternative Pathways, a one-year cohort-based model. You have to have, again, applied and then been accepted and have documentation, so, a letter of acceptance that you will upload as part of your application and then you also have to be prepared to get a background check, which involves getting fingerprinted. You will have to go to a center and give them a special number called an ORI number to do that. So, there is the application itself and then there are these other pieces. Just to recap, we’re talking about $150 fee that you have to be ready to pay by credit card, get ready to send your official transcripts directly to the NM Public Education Department from your university, have documentation that you’ve been accepted into an approved alternative teacher education program, and you have to set up an appointment with a place where you can get fingerprinted and get your background check done. You have to have this hyperlink too. I’m not going to spend time here during this video, but you would want to click there and figure out exactly where to go to set up that appointment and what number to give them so they send the results of your background check to the State of New Mexico.
Next, I’m going to actually go ahead into the online licensure portal. So, the first time here you will have to register for an account. I’m not going to show you that process. I’m sure you’ve registered for accounts before. It’s pretty similar. So, I’m going to pause here for a second and come back once I’ve actually gotten into the portal. Okay, so first of all, I want to note that this screen says enter the temporary password you received by email is normal. I believe the system is set up to do this every single time that you want to log in like a two-factor authentication situation. There are some different things you can do here. You can submit a dossier or portfolio. You’re not doing either of those things. You are doing a license application, so you want to select that and then you are an applicant. Okay, so, I already have a license. Your screen will look a little different, a little blank, but I’m going to go through and start a new application and just act like I’m applying for a new license. You can kind of see how this goes. If I’m somebody who’s applying for an alternative license for the first time, and I’ve gotten all those things ready I mentioned earlier, I’m going to go ahead and do a new application. I’m going to be a teacher. You can have a lot of different types of licenses, but we’ll be focusing on teaching licenses specifically. I’m going to select k-8 elementary in this case, so you can kind of see how that goes. I can’t pick secondary, because I already ahve that type of license, but it’s really similar. The pathway we’re focusing on here is alternative educator preparation program. If you are an elementary teacher, you don’t need an endorsement. But if you’re applying for a secondary or middle-to-high school teaching position then you’ll need an endorsement and that would likely be something that you majored in in college or at least have 24 credit hours, at least for your first endorsement.
Then we’re going to be picking level 1 alternative. We’re going to put here “New Mexico,” even though we haven’t already done our education program yet. I believe you have to select a state here, so I’m going to put New Mexico. Then I’m going to pick the program that I have been accepted to. So let’s say that LEAP program I mentioned before. It’s likely you don’t currently hold licensure in any other state or country, so I’m going to select “no.” So, are you employed or do you plan to be employed? I mean, if you are applying for an alternative teaching license then you probably do at least plan to be employed, if you aren’t already. So you can put “yes” and, if you have a specific place that you’ve been hired or want to be hired, you can put that in here. I would put XX, and if you have it you should put the number you get from having done a background check. I believe you don’t have to have that ahead of time but it’s helpful to be able to connect your background check with your licensure application. In number six, you’re going to enter the universities that you have attended, so I put my undergrad Michigan. Add it. OK, it was already there but just so you could see what that looks like. So I added the different universities that I’ve attended. I’m going to keep going. I’m not in the military. Neither is my spouse. Then I will go ahead and initial and date.
Then this takes me down to the next section over here. You can also navigate around as needed, but you’ll need to answer these character and fitness questions, which are about just previous actions taken or any sort of legal actions that might have been taken against you in the past. So, I’m going to go ahead and answer “no” to these things, because that’s true for me. I just want to note this sentence here. If you answered “yes” to any of the questions one through six above, please provide a narrative description on a separate sheet, including dates, places, schools systems and circumstances. And there’s a place for you to upload something like that. Just because you answer yes to something here does not mean you are ineligible for getting a teaching license. It’s possible there are things that would prevent you from getting a teaching license, but if you had a minor offense in your past, definitely answer truthfully and it, again, does not mean that you would be prevented from getting a teaching license. For questions seven through ten, you would include a little more information. So, for every question you answer yes to, just make sure you note what additional information you will need to provide. Alrighty, so continuing on. We’re here in the upload documents section. This section can be a little bit confusing, because the licensure portal is a generic portal where you can apply for a bunch of different types of licenses. So, it doesn’t exactly tell you, if you’re applying for an alternative teaching license, here’s what you need to upload. They give you this link so you can go investigate that yourself. But here is where you would include the documentation that you have been accepted into an alternative teacher licensure program. You would see this and it would look like XX. And there’s a space specifically to upload that and then if you have exams that you’ve passed – Praxis exams – you notice they weren’t on the initial list. I always tell people that I highly recommend passing as many of the exams as you feel comfortable doing or at least attempting them before you begin teaching, because once you’re in your first year of teaching, it’s much harder – oftentimes – to set aside that time to go study for and take teacher practice exams. So, I recommend at least attempting them – the core skills and one content exam prior to starting a licensure program and applying for this license and any passing scores that you have.
You can go ahead and upload them here, so the PED has them. Depending on the endorsement that you want – if it doesn’t fully match the major you had in college – then you may need to upload a passing score here to be able to teach that content area. For example, if I majored in psychology but I wanted to teach English Language Arts – Middle School English Language Arts or something like that – and I didn’t have the required number of credits, I could get endorsed in psychology, because it matches my major and I could take the English Language Arts Praxis Test to be able to teach and be qualified for that subject area as a second endorsement. You just have to have the passing score from the test.
So, I won’t spend too much time on that, but for your first endorsement you have to eventually have both credits and a passing Praxis score and then for any subsequent endorsements after that you just have to have one or the other. Once you’ve uploaded your items, I’m going to continue on and then it says other documents here, so this is kind of what I was talking about, where it’s not totally clear exactly what you do here. People can get kind of confused. If you have documentation about questions in the character and fitness section, you would upload those here. Go ahead and proceed. Now we’re at the review and submit stage.
Not a super long application process. It takes much longer to get all the pieces together. I would say this part can be a little confusing if you don’t know exactly what to do or what to or what to put in the drop down or which links to go to. If you follow the directions here, it shouldn’t take you too long. Now, I’m just reviewing everything I put, to make sure it’s accurate, and I’ve got to acknowledge some things here, some obligations that come along with having a teaching license in New Mexico. Then I put my name in here, initial that everything I’ve put is true and correct and then I can submit.
I’m actually not going to go ahead and hit okay here. What would happen next is I would proceed onto the payment part. I’m not actually qualified to do the elementary teaching license as of right now. I have a secondary teaching license, so I’m going to cancel out of this so it doesn’t actually go through, but the next part would be to pay the $150 fee. I don’t think it’ll let me go there, but just to note these other pieces. You can also come back to this portal to review the status of your application and that part is very important. Once you have submitted your application you want to keep on top of your email really closely and you want to come back to this review status spot pretty frequently after about the 20-day window. As of June 2021, the licensure department is saying they’re taking about 20 days to process. SOmetimes that can be quicker, sometimes it can take longer, depending on how busy the time of year is and throughout the 10 to 30 day window you really want to be looking closely at your email. It’s pretty easy to miss a checkbox or just miss a piece and, if that happens, the PED will email you and note it in your application portal but I’ve seen people just wait and miss the email they got saying “oops, you forgot to check this box or upload this thing or whatever it might be.” Another really common one is you think you’re qualified to get a certain endorsement and you don’t quite have the credits and you don’t realize it so check your email and check your review status frequently. Once you’ve completed all this, go ahead and get out of the portal. Don’t forget that there were some additional pieces that you needed up front. I’m going to share my screen again. I’m going to go back here to this list of things that you need, so we’ve taken care of the fee and we did the application but we haven’t necessarily sent our official transcripts to the PED so do that. Probably the easiest way, again, is official electronic transcripts to the email <a>firstname.lastname@example.org</a>. Hard copy is okay too. You’ll also need to get that background check done and this link here gives you the information you need to do that. Just a little thing to note – you will need to get a background check done for the state and then separately for your school or district so it kind of feels funny to be getting two background checks done right in a row but you will need separate ones and you will need to provide the place that’s doing the background check with two different codes or ORI numbers. One of those background checks goes to the state and another one goes to your school or district and that information is here.
There’s a $44 cost that you can expect as well. So that is the process to get the alternative teaching license application completed and be on your way to becoming a teacher in New Mexico. I and Teach For America New Mexico are here to support you in that process. It can be a little confusing sometimes, but I know you can get through it. Please, if you get stuck, of course reach out to the licensure bureau directly and if there’s any way that I or Teach For America New Mexico can support you, please don’t hesitate to contact us as well. Missy.email@example.com