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Teacher Preparation Programs: A Guide to Getting Started in Connecticut

Teachers are crucially important to their students’ lives. Not only do teachers provide their students with the knowledge they’ll need to succeed academically, but in many ways, they also prepare their students for life outside of school walls. Great teachers help students improve their non-cognitive skills such as self-regulation and adaptability. However, great teachers aren’t born. They’re made. The level and quality of training that a teacher receives is directly linked to the quality and standard of education that they deliver to their students. Pre-service training, or teacher preparation programs, equip teachers with the foundation they need to provide a quality education to others. But what is a teacher preparation program? Here is your comprehensive guide to the teacher requirements and teacher preparation programs in Connecticut.

What is a Teacher Preparation Program?
Teacher preparation programs are designed to prepare participants to become licensed educators. Students who wish to teach in the public school system are required to be licensed in their state. A teacher preparation program, therefore, prepares them to meet state licensing requirements. As of 2018, there were approximately 26,000 state-approved teacher preparation programs across the United States. Traditionally, teacher preparation takes place in universities or other institutions of higher education. These programs may include undergraduate work, graduate study, or certificate training programs.

Curriculum for Preparing the Teachers of Tomorrow
In the state of Connecticut, future educators are required to pass the Connecticut State Board of Education (CSBE)’s teacher assessment, known as the edTPA. This test is a performance based, subject specific assessment to measure the skills and knowledge of teacher candidates. The edTPA requires candidates to submit a portfolio of materials during their training period that will demonstrate their level of preparedness. In order to be prepared for this assessment, teacher preparation programs provide students with coursework in areas such as:

  • Curriculum and Methods of Teaching
  • Special Education
  • Differentiated Instruction
  • Educational Psychology

For students earning their master’s in Secondary Education, curriculum in their chosen subject area (e.g. English or Biology) will be required. This curriculum will prepare them for their Praxis II content knowledge exam.

Additionally, teacher preparation programs offer students field training in the form of Resident Teaching. This experience requires students to teach in a school, under the direction of a trained, Cooperating Teacher.

How to Choose a Teacher Preparation Program
While it’s clear that a career in education requires specialized training through a teacher preparation program, not all programs are the same. It’s important that you carefully vet teacher preparation programs in your area before matriculating. Here are a few things to consider before beginning your training.

Degree and Certification Options
For those who wish to teach in the state of Connecticut, there are a variety of potential teacher preparation programs to consider. For example, a Master’s in Elementary Education prepares students to successfully teach in an elementary classroom. The Educational and Administration and Supervision Certificate program trains students to become leaders in their school and school district. Decide the kind of educational career that best suits your goals, and choose the degree or certification program that best aligns with these goals. Learn more about some of these teacher preparation program options in Connecticut, below.

In order for your teacher preparation program to be accepted by the state in which you plan on teaching, it must be accredited by the state and by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation Accreditation assures that students in teacher preparation programs are given a deep understanding of critical concepts and principles of their field. The CAEP reviews and evaluates an institution’s curriculum and pedagogical techniques, as well as the overall quality of instruction. The preparation program’s student success rate, opportunities for experiential learning, and post-graduation skill level are also taken into consideration. Receiving instruction from an accredited program sets future teachers on a path towards success.

Flexibility and Affordability
While some students have already worked as a teacher, others begin their training after already acquiring a master’s degree in another subject area. For teachers who have already earned a master’s degree, finding a program that offers some amount of flexibility is important. Teacher preparation programs that offer Sixth Year Certificates, for example, can provide students with flexibility while still preparing them for a vibrant career in education. For students who are already successfully working as teachers, an online master’s degree in Education is a wonderful way to enhance professional skills and increase earning potential. Online M.Ed. programs allow working teachers to earn their graduate degree while working full time. The program is entirely online and can take as few as 12 months to complete. This kind of flexibility is something all teacher preparation candidates should look for from their future program.

Affordability is, of course, another concern. While many schools offer financial aid in the form of student loans, it’s important to investigate whether the school you’re interested in offers its students and work study opportunities. Most importantly, you should strive to find a state-approved teaching program that offers its students an affordable tuition rate.

Teachers, whether they teach elementary or secondary school-aged children, shape the future. Their influence can help students decide what careers they want, how they want to interact with the world, and can even help them discover hidden talents. It’s impossible to overestimate a teacher’s importance in their students’ lives. However, the skills that teachers possess don’t develop overnight. They’re the result of training, study, and preparation. If you’re interested in enrolling in a teacher preparation program in Connecticut, email University of Bridgeport’s Office of Admissions for more information, today.

Ready to begin your journey as a Connecticut educator? Apply today!