As a teacher, you play an active role in the path your students take, but who takes an active role in your journey to achieve your goals?
Becoming certified to teach in the state of Texas involves completing a teacher training program, often an educator preparation program for those who already have a bachelor’s degree.
But what is teacher training? Simply put, it is training (courses, in-person practice, etc.) an individual must undergo to qualify as a teacher.
Before choosing a program, you should ask yourself one question: How do YOU define teacher training? In other words, what do you want to get out of the training? What characteristics of a program are important to you?
Here are additional questions you should ask yourself when determining what the best teacher training experience looks like to you.
What Training Is Required?
When defining what a teacher training program is to you, start with what is required so you have a clear understanding of the expectations that lie ahead. In the state of Texas, you must complete 300 hours of training no matter which alternative teacher certification programyou choose.
These 300 hours are designed to prepare you for working in the classroom, as well as fine tune your skills once you are in the classroom.
A program must also pair you with an in-field advisor who should guide you through your first year of teaching. As we’ll explore below, how these requirements are carried out is a completely different matter and might clash with what you envision the best teacher training to look like.
How Is Training Offered?
While 300 hours are required for certification, how you get those 300 hours may vary per program. Some alternative certification programs are going to sell themselves on you being able to achieve the 300 hours of training almost exclusively online, but for first-year teachers, this could be a missed opportunity.
If you define teacher training as an opportunity to make connections, ask questions in real time and practice teaching with experienced educators, you’ll want to choose a program that invites you to complete at least some of the required 300 hours in person.
Consider this: An online certification program has many benefits, from higher course availability to flexibility, convenience and a comfortable learning environment. But it also has some downsides, including lack of face-to-fact interaction, missed networking opportunities and potential technology issues.
Choosing an alternative certification program that offers a mix of both online and in-person instruction provides you with the best of both worlds.
What Do I Want My Advisor Experience To Be Like?
As we mentioned above, in Texas, an educator preparation program must pair you with an in-field advisor who should guide you through your first year of teaching. An important question you should ask yourself is what you hope to gain from this.
It is important to have an experienced educator watching your back and guiding you through your first year as a teacher. Although having an advisor is mandated by the state, look for a program where in-field advisors are not only accessible to you throughout the school year, but also make periodic classroom visits to observe your teaching. This provides an opportunity for valuable feedback.
A lack of guidance…especially during the early months of a new teacher’s journey…can be detrimental. Having a support system in place can help you get through these challenging times with a bright outlook on the future.
Does Teacher Training Include Test Preparation?
Test preparation is an important part of teacher training. After all, how you perform on the test is often directly related to the quality of training you receive.
The best teaching programs offer test preparation as part of their curriculum…not as costly add-ons. This training should include everything you need to pass your content exams and the Pedagogy and Professional (PPR) test.
Curriculum may include features like practice tests, videos and online and in-person courses. It should also analyze common mistakes made when taking these exams, including a focus on areas where many interns struggle.
Preparing for any tests you must pass to earn certification can feel overwhelming. If your idea of teacher training involves a focus on preparing for these important tests, make sure you choose a program that prioritizes preparing you for them.
How Do I Define Teacher Training?
Asking yourself these questions as you go through the process of choosing an alternative teacher certification program will help you define what you want and need most out of a program.
For many, their training experiences are their first foray into the teaching world. Knowing what characteristics and benefits a program offers not only will help you find a perfect match, it will help you achieve your ultimate goal of being the best student and teacher all-in-one.
Micah is the Director of Curriculum & Technology. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in British Literature, from the University of North Texas and a Master of Arts in Teaching, from Louisiana College. In his previous career, Micah served for 14 years as a banker and bank manager. For the majority of this period, Micah managed the Downtown Fort Worth location of Frost Bank.
In 2005, Micah finally surrendered to his true calling to be an educator. After a brief, but fulfilling term teaching high school English at Flower Mound High School in Lewisville ISD, Micah went to work for the family business, training teachers.
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