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.
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.
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.
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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