Top 5 Ways Your Credential Programs Could Have Been Better

What is a Teacher Credential Program?

There are over 3.3 million teachers in the United States and most of them are credentialed. University credentialing programs provide student teachers with the fundamental skill sets needed to begin their career. Or at least that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

Teachers’ experiences of credentialing programs vary greatly as one survey respondent said, “Honestly, mine was AMAZING. I feel like we learned so much more – I was fully prepared to teach when I was done!”

Others might be more like mine. I had started teaching before I got my credential and was going to school at night. By the time I began my program I had learned a lot of teaching strategies from my peers and school leadership. The teachers I met in the credentialing program were all well-intentioned but most of them hadn’t actually been teaching in a high school classroom in over two decades. One was still using overhead projectors and the other had a file system of handouts that you could tell had been created in the last century.

Here at ThinkFives, We were curious to know what would make a better credentialing program. We surveyed hundreds of teachers and here are their top five suggestions for improving such programs.

More Interactive and Hands-On

More Interactive and Hands-On

Many teachers shared that they wish they had more hands-on experience and less theoretical discussions.  They felt that the best way to learn to teach is to actually teach.

Here is some of what they shared.

  • Classes would have been interactive rather than lectures.
  • More in-personn learning instead of writing so many papers.
  • More math practice versus math theories.
  • My program was very heavy with writing papers instead of hands-on learning or collaboration.
  • So much of what we did was busy work and they didn’t teach us how to teach reading.
Better Classroom Management and ParentEngagement

Better Classroom Management and ParentEngagement

A number of teachers felt that they were not well prepared for dealing with students and parents. The lack of classroom management courses and very few topics or activities about parent engagement (or lack thereof) was a shortcoming of their program. Once they arrived at the classroom they found that their book knowledge was not nearly enough to make them effective in managing students or parents.

Here is some of what they wished it would have done.

  • had a classroom management course for practical implementation.
  • spent more time learning about behavior modification and interactions with parents.
  • prepared me for students who have emotional behavior issues.
  • told us about parents.
  • Classes that focused on working with, communicating with, and dealing with parents.
More Time with Technology

More Time with Technology

Not surprisingly, many teachers cited the lack of technology training as an issue. Particularly those teachers who received their credentialing training years ago.

But even today teachers cited the lack of working with apps, and remote learning in social media as a limitation of their program. Some mention that their professors were not very adept with these technologies and therefore avoided using them or discussing them in class.

Here is some of what they shared.

  • ESGI Training had been included.
  • I could have learned more about technology.
  • I had more practical computer experience.
  • We would have had training in virtual teaching and tech-based assessment.
  • Technology based curriculum had been a thought and created some instead of NONE.
Missing Topics

Missing Topics

While many credential programs are comprehensive in nature, others felt that significant topics were not covered at all in their program. These included more in-depth training in elementary reading and phonics issues to dealing with assessment and data driven instruction.

While every teacher did have to take classes in ELA and math, it’s still interesting that a number of teachers felt ill-prepared in classrooms to teach these subjects.

Here is some of what they shared.

  • Focused more on phonics, reading issues (dyslexia, etc).
  • I had learned better ways to manage small groups while teaching reading.
  • We spent more time talking about types of assessments and what to do with them.
  • More time seeing Math used in small groups, RTI and differentiation.
  • There was a stronger focus on data driven instruction.
Not Enough Real-World Experience

Not Enough Real-World Experience

The #1 way teachers felt that credentialing programs could be improved is if they included more real-world experience. As much as professors like to lecture, there’s no substitute for being in classrooms and dealing with students.

Even those who had extensive real-world experience cited the fact that they wish they had broader exposure to other grade levels in various teaching styles.  Credential programs should heedthis advice from the many teachers who have been through their programs.

Here is some of what they shared.

  • It allowed more in-person experience with a broader range of grade levels.
  • I could have spent more time in actual classrooms.
  • I could observe a variety of teaching styles.
  • We had the opportunity to view more diverse classrooms in different populations!
  • The science of teaching is important, but the art is what makes a great teacher.

What factors would have made your credentialing program better?


What do you THINK?

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