The San Francisco Unified School District is recruiting for programs that help people become teachers. (Courtesy photo)

School Superintendent Vincent Matthews: How to become a teacher

When I was a teacher at Dr. George Washington Carver Elementary School, I loved going to work every day because I knew I was making a difference in the lives of the young people who showed up each day. Now I have the wonderful opportunity to hear from teachers about why they love their job.

One educator recently explained that she went into teaching because, as a Spanish speaker and the first person in her family to go to college, she wants to be someone that her students can relate to. Another educator said that he’s inspired by the funny, smart, deep and thoughtful nature of the children who surround him every day.

If these sound like great experiences to you, you’re in luck. We are actively recruiting for programs that help people become SFUSD teachers, and it’s not too late to apply for the 2019-2020 school year. In fact, our very own Pathway to Teaching — the first district-sponsored teacher credentialing program — is taking applications from those interested in teaching Bilingual Spanish or Special Education through February 18.

There are a number of ways to pursue a career in education here in San Francisco. We deeply value teacher candidates who come from traditional preparation programs, but we are also seeking talented people from diverse backgrounds and experiences who are motivated to unleash our students’ potential.

Pathway to Teaching is a one-year program where participants earn their credential while teaching in a classroom. This program is well-suited for those who have experience working with children and youth (e.g., paraprofessional, substitute teacher or after school service provider) and want to become a credentialed teacher. Participants receive intensive training and regular coaching from an experienced teacher coach, lead their own classrooms, and complete online and in-person coursework. These new teachers earn a salary while they work toward their preliminary credential. We are primarily recruiting elementary Bilingual Spanish teachers and K-12 Mild-Moderate Special Education (Education Specialist) teachers for this program.

The San Francisco Teacher Residency (SFTR) is a university-union-district partnership where candidates experience a year-long classroom apprenticeship with targeted master’s-level coursework. Participants get hands-on experience in the classroom under the guidance of a master teacher and receive ongoing support essential for successful careers in teaching. Upon completing their residency, successful candidates earn a preliminary teaching credential, master’s degree and a position in an SFUSD classroom.

The New York University Steinhardt Teacher Residency combines a full-year teaching residency under the guidance of an SFUSD teaching mentor with a master’s degree program taught online by NYU faculty and in-person coaching. Residents are paid during their residency year. Like SFTR, this program leads to a master’s degree, preliminary teaching credential and position in an SFUSD classroom. This program focuses on teaching in middle and high schools.

Not sure if you want to teach but want to check it out? Those who have experience with youth or have considered teaching as a profession may want to consider substitute teaching or becoming a paraprofessional, both of which are excellent opportunities to get a foot in the door for future employment with SFUSD.

To uphold our mission of providing each and every student with the quality instruction and equitable support they need to thrive in the 21st century, we look for candidates who are strong collaborators, skilled communicators and problem-solvers, and who are comfortable in a community of continuous learning. After joining the SFUSD community, teachers continue to receive support and professional learning opportunities, regardless of how long they’ve been teaching.

To learn more about these career pathways or apply for open positions, visit

Vincent Matthews is the superintendent of schools for the San Francisco Unified School District. He is a guest columnist.
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