Ready to become an elementary teacher and spend the rest of your days in kid land? It's an admirable dream and a truly rewarding career. But first, you have to pick the right teacher certification program.
Today, nearly half of all people who earn teaching certification in the state of Texas do so through an Educator Preparation Program, or EPP. An alternative teacher certification program, which is what online and hybrid programs are, is a type of EPP. These allow you the flexibility to learn, even if you have constraints like a family or a job.
Because there are so many education programs available today, both online and off, future elementary educators have never had an easier time finding the right program. You can now find student teaching locations on a map, learn appropriate teaching methods to match your interest areas and age group, as well as learn in a classroom or in your own living room.
In this article, we’ll help you narrow down the choices by taking a look at the best programs that prepare students to teach. Specifically, here’s what to look for in an elementary school teacher training and education program.
The Program Must Be Approved By The State Of Texas
To teach in the state of Texas, you have to enroll in a program approved by the state. It’s important to know that not all programs are; there are plenty that will try to fool you into enrolling, only for you to later discover that they don’t actually meet the licensure requirements. You can avoid that by checking the Texas Education Agency (TEA) list of approved programs. If the one you’re considering doesn’t make the list, don’t apply for it.
The preparation time is less than others in the state, often by a wide margin
You get little time with teachers, instead relying on self-study almost exclusively
The program name is very similar to another, certified institution
You can’t find a physical address for the “school”
Even if a program isn’t fraudulent and does meet all state requirements for licensing, they don’t always have your best interests in mind as a budding educator. For that reason, it’s important to find a program that checks all of the following boxes as well.
You Get The Best of Both Worlds: Remote and In-Person Training
The best alternative education programs right now will teach you everything you need to know, while providing a learning environment that works around your schedule. Whether you want to be a special education teacher or a general classroom educator, a subject specialist or adjunct faculty, you’ll find an online education course that will meet your needs.
These programs enable teaching careers by allowing you to take classes remotely while also experiencing in-person training. That means you can continue to focus on your other responsibilities – the most common being work and family – while following a rigorous curriculum that gets you your certificate in a year or two.
Your Timeline For Program Completion is Individualized
The best thing about an online education program is how individualized it is. Whether you have a bachelor’s degree, associate’s degree or work experience in the field – all of which can qualify you for an online program and licensure – it’s likely you’re very busy. Your schedule isn’t like anyone else’s, which means you need individualization to succeed.
You’re not just a number, after all. Look for a program that will work with you to strategize a plan to make sure you stay on target to achieve your goals. Before you apply, the admissions professionals at the program should help you consider all your options. If you can’t get ahold of anyone, that’s another sign the program isn’t for you.
Your Program Embraces A Full Circle Approach
After that, it’s time for in-person training. You need hands-on time teaching real students if you want your own classroom. That means finding a student teaching site, which your program should help you to do – or at least point you in the right direction for finding one in your area.
Lastly, you’ll need to take tests at the end of your certificate program. This full circle approach ensures you’re completely ready for taking on a classroom. Now let’s take a closer look at the testing component.
A Top Program Will Ensure You Take All The Right Tests … At The Right Time
Depending on what you want to be certified to teach in – the grade level and, if applicable, subject areas – you’ll need to take different tests. One of the most important of these is the PPR, or Pedagogy and Professional Responsibility. On the list of Texas teacher certification tests, this is the main exam that assesses your overall qualification to be in charge of students all day. It ensures you can:
Run a thoughtful curriculum that addresses state standards
Create a positive classroom environment
Accurately assess student learning and differentiate where needed
Fulfill all your professional duties
Another test of note is the Science of Teaching Reading (STR), which is a newer exam required by TEA. It doesn’t apply to all teachers, but if you’re teaching in early childhood or in areas of reading or social studies, you may need to take it. Head to the link above to learn more.
Other than that, your tests will depend on what subject you’re teaching or what special environments you’re teaching in.
Note that the timing of these tests is just as important as the tests themselves. You program must properly prepare you to take them around the completion of your program, but in time to get your license and apply for jobs.
A Program’s Reputation Should Be Stellar
If you want to teach in school districts of your choice, it helps to have the weight of a great education behind you. A program should have good reviews, promote its instructors, have connections with school districts and have a well-known reputation. Make sure before you enroll that your program meets all these requirements, and you’ll have the best possible chance for great employment!
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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