You’ve made the life-changing decision to pursue your dream of becoming a teacher. Now you need to choose a program that will get you across the finish line and into the classroom.
Online alternative programs are an excellent and increasingly popular way to earn your teaching license in Texas. In fact, more than 50% of all new teachers to the Texas education system come from alternative education programs.
Before applying for one, however, it’s important to do your homework to ensure you have all the information you need to determine the right path and best fit for you. The state of Texas mandates that all online teacher certification programs include:
An application process
A training program
Field support to help you on your path to certification
However, the best online teacher certification programs go beyond the minimum requirements and offer training that ensures you’re ready when it comes time for you to have your own classroom.
As you navigate your choices, here are some of the traits that the best certification programs offer.
They Won’t Rush You
Never rush into a decision before weighing your options. If online teacher education programs try to push you into applying right away, they’re probably not the best fit.
The best programs want to make sure it’s a mutually beneficial relationship. They offer a “real person,” and not someone simply reading off a script, to answer your questions - all of them. They don’t rush you off the phone if they don’t know the answer, and they certainly don’t try to “hard sell” you right on the spot.
Instead, they learn about your interests and goals, walk you through the process and help you figure out which steps to take to keep you on track to reaching your goal.
They Offer Flexibility
People from all backgrounds can enroll in teacher certification programs, whether they have a bachelor’s degree, are members of the military, are retirees or stay-at-home parents, or have professional experience in a variety of fields including nursing and emergency services.
One of the best features of online programs is their flexibility, which allows you to take courses around your schedule. This is especially helpful if you are employed, are a busy parent or are in your last semester of a bachelor’s degree program.
This flexibility is often why many choose an online program versus an in-person program. But a fully online program can have disadvantages as well. You can miss out on personal and professional connections developed during training, for example, and won’t always have teachers readily available to answer your questions and correspond with you.
The best online teacher certification programs offer a combination of online and in-person training, providing you with flexibility but allowing you to take advantage of many of the benefits in-person training offers.
This combination of training better prepares students to teach because you will have experienced both knowledge from an instructor and hands-on learning.
They Offer Continuous Support
Teaching and going through the process to become a teacher can be a frustrating experience at times. Like any profession, you’ll struggle sometimes as you’re learning techniques and applying them in the field.
The best teacher certification programs make sure you have the support you need to be successful. That includes pairing you with a trainer adviser who will work with you to ensure you are an effective and dynamic teacher for your students.
Though providing this support is mandated in Texas, look for a program that is proud of its trainer advisers, and shows it by promoting them and their credentials on the program’s website.
You’ll also want to make sure the in-field advisers are accessible to you throughout the school year, and make periodic classroom visits to provide feedback that will help you grow as an educator.
They Provide An Extensive Network
As you examine your options, 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.
The goal of any teacher certification program should be to put you at the front of a classroom. Programs that have built relationships with school districts in Texas often are the first to know about any openings. In fact, many districts will contact reputable teacher certification programs to ask for recommendations of students to hire.
That’s important because in Texas, which is experiencing a teacher shortage, hiring educators is a year-round process. Choosing an alternative certification program that has established relationships with local school districts provides you with built-in references that are readily available to give you that extra boost with principals who are hiring.
They Offer Test Preparation
After all your hard work during training, you have one more hurdle to pass to earn your certification. A great alternative teacher certification program will ensure you’re ready for the Texas Examinations of Educator (TExES) Pedagogy and Professional (PPR) test.
While some offer test preparation as an add-on cost, this service should be a standard part of any teacher training program.
Look for a certification program that provides you with a high-quality, one-day training program at no extra charge. This one-day program should include test coverage and practice testing so that you are the best prepared you can be for the tests.
Here’s The Bottom Line
Online Teacher Certification Programs are becoming increasingly popular in the state of Texas. It’s important that you find the best fitfor the type of program you want and the kind of teacher you want to be.
This experience will be the foundation for your career in education. The right program will lay a strong foundation and provide you with the tools you need to build upon it.
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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