Online teacher certification programs are more popular than ever now, as more individuals are changing course and looking for a more rewarding career.
Online programs, in particular, offer flexibility and convenience, making them an attractive choice for those who need a program that revolves around their schedules.
But how do you know which program will not only help you pursue your goal of becoming an educator, but put you on the best path for success? Google “online teacher certification programs” and you’ll likely find pages and pages of options available to you, making choosing a program a difficult and overwhelming experience.
As you’re navigating your choices, here’s how to spot the best online teacher certification programs Texas has available to you.
A Program Must Be Approved
This may seem like an obvious tip, but there are a lot of companies out there that tout themselves as programs that will help you become a certified teacher. However, if the Texas Education Agency (TEA) has not approved the alternative certification program you have chosen, the coursework you complete may be a complete waste of time.
The TEA is a state agency that oversees public education. If you are pursuing an alternative certification program, it must be on the TEA’s list of state-approved educator preparation programs. Only programs on this list may recommend a person for a Texas educator certificate.
Even when programs are approved, however, that does not mean they are all created equal, as we’ll go over below.
Test Preparation Is Part of The Curriculum
The best online teacher certification programs offer preparation for TExES exams as part of their curriculum … not as costly add-ons.
While the curriculum may vary from program to program, training should include all the tools you need to pass your content exams and the Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities (PPR). Training tools may include practice tests, videos and online and in-person courses.
Remote And In-Person Training Is Offered
One of the best benefits of an online program is its flexibility. Many online programs allow you to take courses around your schedule, which is especially helpful if you are employed, are a parent or have other time-consuming obligations.
However, alternative teacher certification programs that offer a combination of online and in-person training can be the best of both worlds. You will still enjoy the flexibility that an online program offers, yet you are able to take advantage of the many benefits in-person training offers.
These benefits include:
- The development of personal and professional connections through face-to-face interaction
- The availability of instructors to answer your questions promptly
- Networking moments, either planned or spontaneous
- Personalized help from staff who think of you as a person rather than a number
- Opportunities to collaborate through teamwork
Perhaps most important...by incorporating some in-person instruction into your certification experience, you’ll be able to take advantage of hands-on learning that you simply won’t be able to do in a strictly online environment.
If you’re still not sure whether online or in-person programs are right for you, our article, Are Online Texas Teacher Alternative Certification Programs Right For You?, can help.
The Program Provides Continuous Support
Choosing a teacher certification program that offers continuous support from the moment you begin the program to the moment you land a teaching assignment is important.
The program you choose should be your partner in this journey … not a means to an end.
This support should also include customized attention to your timeline. Important timeline items include:
- Whether you need to take the TxPACT
- When you should take your content exams
- When you should complete student teaching
- When you should begin applying for a teaching position
- What coursework you need to complete and when
- When you must take the PPR
- When you should apply for your teaching license
Because it can be challenging to navigate certification requirements, it is important to work with your alternative teacher certification program to ensure you are on the right track.
A Full Circle Approach Is Embraced
Finally, while an alternative teacher certification program typically includes several components…training, testing and teaching…the best programs encourage their interns to work on these components simultaneously.
Think of it as if an intern’s journey includes three teaching rings: training, testing and teaching. In one school year, a teaching intern will need to complete 300 hours of training, a pedagogy exam and teaching experience. As an individual moves closer to completing each ring’s requirements, the ring will close. But these rings do not need to close one at a time, or consecutively. They instead can close simultaneously as one aspect of training will help another.
This full circle design takes a comprehensive approach to learning, allowing interns to complete a program not only more quickly, but with a greater understanding of how everything they learn impacts all aspects of teaching.