What teaching credential programs are like?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by gavin2203, Jul 6, 2018.

  1. gavin2203

    gavin2203 New Member

    Jul 6, 2018
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    Jul 6, 2018

    I'm going to start my first year of college in the fall, and I haven't yet declared a major because I haven't officially decided if I want to be a teacher. I would want to be a middle school History teacher but I also may want a career in a different field and am considering majoring in sociology. So I won't be going through a credential program until after I graduate college. I know if I major in sociology I can still be a history teacher if I take the CSET in that subject. But do I need any background experience in education before entering a teaching credential program? I was considering a minor in education if that is the case, or is that unnecessary? Basically, I was wondering what you learn in a teacher credential program - or is it called teacher preparation program? I know CSUs offer this, but I don't know what you learn. I assumed it gears you towards becoming a teacher and covers teaching/education strategies, so I always thought taking classes in education while an undergrad is unnecessary, but am I wrong? (I live in California, by the way.)
  3. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    May 13, 2005
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    Jul 6, 2018

    You can call 'em either teacher preparation programs or credential programs, gavin2203 - and if you're calling them credential programs rather than licensure programs or certificate programs, I already knew you were in California.

    If an education course catches your eye during your undergrad years and you can fit it into your schedule as an elective, feel free to take it - but California's standard model for teacher education is that the credential candidate comes in knowing subject matter, and it's the job of the credential program (plus, in the best of cases, the Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment program in the first two years of teaching) to build up one's skills in conveying that subject matter to the range of students that one can encounter in a California classroom. At larger CSUs, the credential program is grouped under the School or College of Education (at smaller CSUs, education may be a program under the School of Humanities or the School of Arts and Letters or something of the like: the college catalog will help you figure this out for your school) - anyway, one or more webpages there will lay out both the types of credential that are offered and the variations (part time, full time, accelerated, etc.), and this can give you a better feel for what a credential program can be like. You can also go chat up the nice people in the college of education's office of student services.

    If your university sponsors a chapter of SCTA (Student California Teacher's Association, the branch of CTA for aspiring teachers), join it. If yours doesn't, check the universities nearby.

    For purposes of credentialing, sociology is handled as a subset of social science, just as history is. It can be a bit of a challenge to get hired in history - but if you excel in your coursework, it will stand you in good stead. (Subject matter mastery is about learning facts, but more importantly it is about sharpening your skills in thinking and reasoning competently and flexibly. It's hard to teach students to do that if one can't do it oneself.) For middle school, I'd recommend adding English to your coursework, and more than the minimum: middle schools often teach social studies and English/language arts as a humanities block, and being able to teach both will make you more marketable. The credential program may allow you to add English to your credential as you're qualifying for social studies; it requires one more course and probably passing CSET English, but those considerations are best deferred to your junior or senior years. For best results beginning in the fall, take some time periodically to reflect on how the skills and knowledge required for history draw on and shed light on English - and, for that matter, how ALL of your college coursework draws on and sheds light on all of it, and how the skills of reading, writing, thinking and reasoning transfer from each and to each. This sounds like more work, yes, but it's actually more fun this way.

    Oh, and please make sure, right now, that you've got the basic-skills requirement for credentialing locked down. The most straightforward way to satisfy it is to take CBEST - and the time for you to take it is right now, because your skills for it will never be sharper than they are right now while you're still in the zone from SATs and school testing. Scores are good for life. You can also use EAP results, or EPT plus ELM, or SAT or ACT, or certain combinations of AP scores (see https://www.ctc.ca.gov/docs/default-source/leaflets/cl667.pdf?sfvrsn=91a6cf60_26).

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