Seven Questions To Ask About Teacher Education Programs
The education required to become a teacher is one of the hardest to enter without coming into significant scrutiny and criticization when choosing an undergraduate degree program. A common assumption is that the degree requirements and standards are too lenient and do not adequately prepare them to instruct secondary, middle, or elementary students. With the scrutiny that potential students face along with the frequent portrayal of teachers being under-appreciated, underpaid, and under-resourced have diminished the amount of interested high-school graduates. Yet, some persevere and still desire to become future educators.
What To Expect
Teacher programs vary depending on the college and the state. All will require understanding and comprehension in a liberal arts major, including English, Mathematics, Foreign Language, Art, Music, History, or Natural and Physical Sciences in addition to generalized coursework in education. Some degrees offer specialization of the desired level of education but require the workload of a liberal arts major as well. Along with basic education, you must also get a certification.
Although the content generally remains the same, differing slightly in their education courses, the approach and methods of teaching will vary. That is why it is essential to ask these seven questions before committing to a program:
- Is there an assessment that could be taken to determine if teaching is right for you? Not everyone is meant to become a teacher and some that are attempting to make a career out of it go through school and realize later that it wasn’t right for them. This happens directly after school, and a graduate may decide that they do not wish to work in the profession, or after they have worked for a couple of years. If you’re borderline or have a few doubts, taking a career assessment before committing may be in your best interests.
- Are there opportunities to work with different teaching levels before student teaching? Most have a good idea of what level they would like to teach, as we’ve all had experience with elementary, middle, and secondary schools. Having a practice round before student teaching will reassure you that you have picked the right level. Each student group has different needs, and sometimes you’re not prepared for those needs, or realize that they have them.
- Do they offer a liberal arts major that interests you? Choosing the focus of your liberal arts major is no small decision, you need to make sure that it is something you enjoy teaching and that you could fall back on if you decide not to complete the education program. The students you teach expect you to know and understand the material.
- Do they have partner programs? Teaching benefits heavily from having connections with different schools and school teaching programs. Connections to schools during college can lead to jobs within those districts, especially if it is the area that you are from or would like to stay and work in.
- What do they offer to prepare you for certifications? Pass rates seem tempting when shopping around for a college, but what programs or practices do they offer to assist you in preparing for the certifications you need? How much support do they provide? Is it included in their teaching program, and if not, how much does it cost?
- What are the transportation options? Not all college students own cars, and if you happen to be one of those students, understanding the transportation system involved with the school is important. Some colleges offer discounted public transportations to allow you to get from the university to the teaching program; others don’t provide anything or are too remote to rely on public transport.
- If you’re already a student working towards a liberal art major, should you complete the degree and then pursue a master’s for education? Some colleges offer a 5-year master’s degree, where you work through your bachelors and end up with a master which can allow you to earn teaching credibility right after college. This is great if you want to work where a masters degree is required or would greatly benefit you, if not, then you would benefit more from working with volunteer and extracurricular activities with children.
Committing to a program is not an easy decision and is not one that should be taken lightly. Thorough research is necessary to understand what each program offers and which is the best fit for you. Hopefully, these questions were able to make the decision much easier and will eliminate any options that you were unsure about. We may not have covered all of the questions in the book, but the goal was to provide a sturdy foundation.
What Questions Did We Miss?