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Pros And Cons Of Teaching Credential Programs

by
Micah Fikes
Micah Fikes on July 29, 2019

If you’re considering getting your teaching certification in the state of Texas, there are a few different options available to you.

You can get your Texas teacher certification through a:

  • University program (either as part of your bachelor’s degree program or through a post-baccalaureate program), or an
  • Alternative program (either completely online or through a combination of online and in-person coursework).

However, choosing which one best meets your needs can feel a little overwhelming and take a lot of consideration. Below we’ll explore the pros and cons of each of the ways you can earn your teaching certification in Texas so that you begin the journey toward the career of your dreams.

 

University Program

 

Many choose to earn their teaching credentials through a university-based program. In fact, in Texas, 34% of all new teachers are prepared through undergraduate programs, typically for elementary teacher positions. Another 4% of new teachers earn their credentials through post baccalaureate programs. 

 

Pros

One of the biggest benefits for those pursuing an undergraduate degree in education is that the teacher preparation program is typically already blended with the bachelor’s degree program. 

Benefits include:

  • teaching credential programsCollege coursework incorporates the state teacher credential requirements. By following the curriculum put into place to meet graduation requirements for a bachelor’s degree in education, you’ll meet the minimum standards for a teaching certification as well.
  • Baccalaureate degree programs also include fieldwork, or student teaching. 
  • The university may offer online courses. If this option is offered, you can take advantage of some of the benefits that online learning provides (see below). 
  • You develop relationships. By taking classes at a university, you have the opportunity to develop relationships with peers and faculty through group work and by exchanging ideas. 

Many colleges and universities also offer post-baccalaureate programs. These are designed for individuals who already hold a bachelor’s degree, but not in education. Participants in these programs complete credential requirements for a teaching certificate by enrolling in university coursework. 

Perhaps the biggest benefit to this type of university program is if the university allows you to earn an advanced degree while at the same time fulfilling the requirements for a certificate. 

 

Cons

While earning your teaching credentials through a university-based program can be a great option for students heading to college for the first time, or those looking to complete an advanced degree, there are some drawbacks as well:

  • This can be an expensive option. The average annual in-state college tuition in Texas for the 2017-2018 academic year was $10,584. If you’re seeking a bachelor’s degree, you’ll typically be looking at three to four years of tuition, and that doesn’t include room and board. 
  • An online university program may be even costlier. Research conducted by U.S. News and World Report found that degrees offered through online universities typically are more expensive than paying in-state tuition at a public school.
  • You’re restricted by geography. Unless the university offers all classes online, you’ll need to find a university near where you live, or move temporarily while you take classes.
  • Flexibility is limited. Scheduling life commitments and work around taking classes can be difficult. Universities typically offer in-person courses at set times. To enroll in them, you must be available when classes are scheduled. If you work full-time, have a family or have other life commitments, taking courses at a university can be extremely difficult.

 

Alternative Program: Online

 

For those who already have a bachelor’s degree or meet other requirements, alternative programs are a great way to earn your teaching certificate.

These types of programs are becoming more and more popular among those looking for a convenient pathway to earning a teaching certification that fits their schedule and other needs. In fact, 49% of all new teachers in Texas are prepared through alternative programs. 

Among them, you can typically choose between a 100% online program or one that incorporates both online and in-person coursework. In this section, we’ll explore the pros and cons of programs that offer their coursework completely online. 

 

Pros

One of the biggest benefits of an online alternative program is its flexibility. Online learning takes the distance out of education, so many more courses are available to you. You can live on one side of Texas and take online courses offered through a certification program located on the other side of the state. 

Other benefits include:

  • You can complete your coursework around your schedule. Whether it’s in the early mornings, late nights or weekends, you make your own schedule. This is especially beneficial for someone who has a job, has kids or leads a busy lifestyle. It allows you to attend your kids’ sporting events, schedule a work conference or be available when “life happens.”
  • You can take advantage of a more comfortable learning environment. If you enjoy studying in your PJs, this option may be for you. Online courses allow you to be as comfortable as you’d like, whether it’s sitting outside enjoying the sunshine while doing your coursework, or sipping on some morning coffee while looking over assigned reading material.
  • No commuting required. Nothing can be more frustrating than getting stuck in traffic and spending a significant part of your day in the car. When taking online courses through an alternative program, the furthest you have to travel is the walk to grab your laptop.
  • There’s a path for you, even if you don’t have a bachelor’s degree. If you have an associate’s degree, have work experience or are a member of the U.S. Armed Forces, you can still qualify for enrollment in an alternative education program.

 

Cons

Though 100% online programs have many benefits, they also have some drawbacks as well:

  • You have fewer face-to-face interactions. You lose an important opportunity to make connections and develop relationships with faculty and other students, as well as exchange ideas and thoughts among peers. 
  • You can’t ask questions, at least not face-to-face. In person, you can shoot that hand up to confirm a point or ask a teacher to clarify something. Online, you can send an email, but you must wait for a reply, and even then, you may not get the complete answer you needed.
  • You may feel like a number. When you interact with others through the computer, it’s difficult for you to get to know program staff, and for them to get to know you. You may feel like just a number instead of a person where instructors can put a name to your face. 
  • Networking opportunities are missed. Online learning leaves you without unscripted networking opportunities, such as meeting up for coffee after a class or staying behind to chat with your instructor about opportunities available to you.
  • You must be able to work on your own. If you work better in a group setting, or lack discipline, online learning probably isn’t a good fit for you. 
  • You need to have tech knowledge. Students who don’t possess the technology knowledge to take an online course may have difficulty. Although most teaching courses are accessible for students with limited computer skills, instructors likely would not be available on the spot to assist with any tech issues a student may experience.

 

Alternative Program: Online And In-Person

 

Online programs offer a lot of flexibility, but you can miss out on important opportunities to network and develop professional connections. Alternative teaching credential programs that provide a curriculum of both online and in-person coursework offer the best of both worlds. 

While you retain the flexibility of being able to take courses online, you have opportunities as well for in-person instruction, group work and networking.

 

Pros

  • teaching credential programsYou’ll receive every benefit outlined above under the online alternative program section, including:
    • Flexibility on when and where you enroll in coursework
    • A comfortable learning environment
    • Fewer commuting hours
    • A path for you if you don’t have a bachelor’s degree
  • You’ll develop professional relationships with faculty and your program staff. This allows you to develop relationships with your instructors and your teaching credential program staff, which can then recommend you for teaching positions in districts that have openings.
  • You’ll experience hands-on learning. Books can provide you with a wealth of knowledge, but hands-on learning can provide you with valuable experience that will help you succeed with a variety of scenarios you’ll face in the classroom.
  • You’ll have face-to-face interaction with your peers. Meeting and working with fellow students in your program provides you with the opportunity to network and bounce ideas off one another. In the field of education, as with any industry, who you know can give you an advantage when searching for career opportunities.
  • You’ll get continuous support. Having a constant connection with your teaching credential program, instructors and peer students can help when you experience frustration. Like any profession, you’ll struggle sometimes as you’re learning techniques and applying them in the field. Having that support network, as well as a trainer adviser who will work with you, will help ensure that you are an effective and dynamic teacher.
  • You’ll get in front of a classroom quickly. In Texas, after you take the appropriate content exams, you can begin teaching while simultaneously taking classes through an alternative teaching certificate program.

 

Cons

Though there are many benefits to a teaching credential program that incorporates both online and in-person learning, it’s important to note that, unfortunately, not all programs are the same. When looking for an alternative program, there are features you should consider, including:

 

  • Whether a test preparation is offered. A great alternative teacher certification program will ensure you’re ready for the Texas Examinations of Educator (TExES) Pedagogy and Professional (PPR) test. Look for a program where this test preparation is not an add-on cost, but instead a standard part of the training program.
  • If they have an extensive network. Look for a program that has a well-known reputation for putting students ahead of the curve and working with school districts to fill open teaching positions.
  • Whether they rush you. The best programs make sure your enrollment in an online teacher education program is a mutually beneficial relationship. Look for a program that allows you to speak to a “real person,” and not someone simply reading off a script.

 

Our article, What The Best Online Teacher Certification Programs Offer, helps guide you on what to look for when choosing a reputable alternative teaching credential program. 

 

Important Final Note

 

It’s also important to note that if you have completed training in another state, there is a path available to you to earn your teaching license in the state of Texas. Approximately 13% of all new teachers to the Texas education system come from out-of-state programs. 

Many take advantage of alternative education programs to fulfill the required number of training hours needed for certification in Texas. Our article, How To Transfer Your Training From Another State, further explains the general requirements needed to obtain your standard teaching certificate and the type of work that would transfer to help you meet these requirements.

 

texas teachers

 

Written by Micah Fikes

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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