Teacher’s Lounge Blog

Learn more about teacher preparation, test tips, online learning, professional development, and a variety of other valuable teacher topics.

MA DESE’s Only Preferred MTEL Course Vendor

April 1st, 2020 | Comments Off on MA DESE’s Only Preferred MTEL Course Vendor | Certification Prep, Literacy Certification, Math Certification, Reading Certification, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses, Writing Certification

MTEL prep

No one disputes the fact that there is more and more pressure on public school educators to make a difference in the lives of the children they teach, no matter what level of professional experience they have. This applies to both elementary and secondary school students and first year and experienced teachers.

New teachers are most often targeted for improving their skills to ensure that they are as ready as they can be for their experience in the classroom. PrepForward is pleased to be a part of that preparation process. As one of the premier vendors for MTEL courses, PrepForward offers courses for educators to enhance and excel in their skills for educating students in classrooms across Massachusetts. PrepForward was chosen as MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s only preferred vendor for MTEL preparation courses. One important aspect of our work with MA DESE is to increase diversity in the teacher workforce.

We are committed to providing teacher preparation courses that aid educators in boosting their teaching skills before they even enter the classroom. This has the added benefit of equipping teachers to help students grow academically and to achieve student success in the classroom for those who may not be on the average spectrum. Students benefit from teachers who have a greater skill set and teachers benefit from increased knowledge to reach all types of learners.

The online classes we offer are designed so that, upon completion, educators can pass the MTEL exams. All courses introduce detailed lessons, full-length practice tests, question explanations, instructor support, 24-hour access, and interactive applications. Courses include general curriculum classes for general and middle-school mathematics, reading, and communication and literacy skills in reading and writing.

Since our program is an approved provider for the MA Department of Education, our courses are available for professional development points, as well. We are pleased to have helped thousands of educators across Massachusetts pass their MTEL exams.

Coronavirus and Teacher Preparedness

March 18th, 2020 | Comments Off on Coronavirus and Teacher Preparedness | Certification Prep, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect teachers across the United States. It also appears that the situation will likely get worse before it gets better. Soon, all school districts will undoubtedly close temporarily rather than just a select few. This includes colleges and universities. What does this mean for prospective educators? What if the semester ends abruptly rather than continuing classes in virtual settings?

Uncertain times can certainly be stressful but current teachers and those seeking a degree do not just have to sit back and wait for things to improve. Make the best of a trying situation. If your community mandates a quarantine, there are things you can do that not only pass the time but help you better prepare yourself for a future in education or provide an unexpected opportunity for professional development.

Online learning environments have the best of both worlds. You get the skills and information you need and want without being stuck in a classroom during set times of the day.

Do you suffer from insomnia? Complete your lessons in the middle of the night. Have a toddler or infant? Work on classes while they play or nap. The flexibility of a self-paced environment offered in online courses is not only welcome, but also beneficial for your entire family.

PrepForward is proud to provide current educators and future teachers the necessary competencies for teaching virtual learners as well as those in traditional classroom settings. Use this “coronavirus downtime” to your advantage and enroll today in one of our classes.

Our distance learning courses are valuable for teachers already in the classroom for certification renewal, obtaining additional licensure, increasing salary opportunities, preparing for annual teacher evaluations, and reinforcing key concepts and skills. For prospective educators who are not yet in a classroom setting, our courses supplement and enhance college courses, help you better prepare for licensing exams, and add valuable expertise that you can highlight on your resume.

Our range of courses include elementary and advanced mathematics, reading comprehension and foundations of reading, writing and language arts and elementary inclusion. For more information about the courses we offer, please contact us. We will be happy to answer your questions about teacher prep or professional development.

How to Pass Your Teacher Certification Exams

February 25th, 2020 | Comments Off on How to Pass Your Teacher Certification Exams | Certification Prep, Literacy Certification, Math Certification, Reading Certification, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses, Writing Certification

Very few people enjoy taking tests. And, since it’s so crucial to your career that you pass your teacher certification exam or exams, it’s just as imperative that you are adequately prepared.
Unfortunately, college does not completely prepare you for these tests. Neither does student teaching. Sometimes you can benefit from a little “extra” assistance and guidance to ensure that you not only pass but do well on these important evaluations.

Here are a few tips that can help:

  1. Understand that you will be tested on a broad area of subject matter. Even if you plan (or hope to) teach kindergarten students, you will still be asked questions about higher level science and mathematics topics, so you need to be familiar with them. Enroll in an online course or two to bridge the gap in your knowledge base. You will find that it is worth the time and expense.
  2. Take advantage of as many study materials as possible. Yes, they often cost money but utilizing these sources can greatly increase your odds of having to pay to retake the certification exam if you fail it. Not all test preparation materials are the same, however, so choose wisely.
  3. Cramming is NEVER wise. Ideally, spread out your study time over several weeks. No matter which certification tests you will take, you will not be assessed on recall. Problem solving, providing examples of real-life situations, and explaining concepts in your own words are the types of questions you should expect.
  4. Review. Review. Review. Study your notes from different college courses that are relevant to the test you will take. The testing company that issues your exam probably has some guidelines to look over to give you an idea of what competencies you will be tested on, as well as sample questions. This can help you outline a study schedule and determine what areas you should target your focus.

You can feel confident going into your teacher certification exam. Take review courses online, create a detailed plan of study, follow a study guide, and get plenty of rest before test day. You’re almost ready for your first class!

Click here to find out about PrepForward’s teacher certification exam prep courses.

How to Improve Your Chances for Getting Your First Teaching Contract

February 11th, 2020 | Comments Off on How to Improve Your Chances for Getting Your First Teaching Contract | Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

Now that you finished college and have your teaching certificate, don’t just expect a teaching job to land in your lap. There is a lot of competition out there, especially in certain geographic areas and teaching specialties. You need to take the necessary steps to market yourself as you would with any other employment opportunity.

It takes more than just sending in your resume to your ideal school district. Here are a few tips to help you get the teaching position you want.

  1. Since you probably don’t have much teaching experience, you need to highlight your other attributes to impress potential interviewers. Ensure that you have your college transcripts, results from exams like the Praxis, certificates, samples of lesson plans and student work from student teaching, a testimonial about your personal teaching philosophy and anything else you feel that is pertinent to your teaching qualifications.
  2. To gain valuable experience in your school district of choice, think about signing up to become a substitute teacher. This is an excellent opportunity to meet and work with other educators and administrators and provides insight into your unique teaching capabilities. Although there is a significant lack of consistency and benefits to this type of job, substituting often gives you a foot in the door in both the district and certain schools.
  3. Ensure that you are marketable as a teacher. If your certification specialty is not in high demand, think about taking some online classes to beef up your resume and increase the opportunity for you to get hired, even if it’s not in your preferred field. Adding professional development experience to your portfolio is never a bad idea.
  4. Don’t expect a teaching position to come to you. Aggressively market yourself. Visit the board of education in one or more districts, inquire about open positions, and request an interview. Network with teachers and browse job feeds. The time to start look for a job for the fall is the spring before.
  5. If you’re willing to relocate, consider looking for a position in certain areas. Some cities and districts throughout the country are eager to recruit qualified teachers and offer incentives like relocation assistance and bonuses.
  6. Practice mock interviews beforehand. Have thoughtful answers for common questions and learn how to relax and be yourself. Knowing a few key pieces of information about the district you interview for can also be beneficial.

Becoming a teacher doesn’t stop with getting your degree and certification. Design a plan to showcase yourself and your abilities and implement it. You should have little trouble getting a teaching position with some advance preparation.

I Have a Student with Dysgraphia – How Can I Help Him?

December 18th, 2019 | Comments Off on I Have a Student with Dysgraphia – How Can I Help Him? | Inclusive Teaching, Teacher's Lounge Blog

While much research has been conducted on learning disorders such as dyslexia, a lot is still unknown about dysgraphia, which is unfortunate since between 7% and 15% of students suffer from this problem. But what is dysgraphia and how can educators help students diagnosed with this disorder?

Like dyslexia, dysgraphia is not related to intelligence but is an unanticipated difficulty with writing and spelling skills that is usually discovered in primary or elementary school. It is characterized by:

  • Underdeveloped phonemic awareness and understanding
  • Challenges with correctly copying visual information
  • Unreadable handwriting
  • Inefficient grip on a writing implement
  • Incorrect spelling
  • Faulty letter formation
  • Below average writing fluency for the grade level

Students with this disorder are deficient in processing phonics and manipulating language sounds. Often, they also have issues with visual and auditory processing, as well.

Fortunately, there are ways you can support students with dysgraphia and help them to be more successful in the classroom without drawing attention to their disability.

  • Provide additional time to complete written work
  • Give students a copy of notes from the white or chalkboard
  • Permit students to use a “note taker” or tools for speech-to-text translation
  • Allow students to write numeric formulas rather than mathematic word problems

If you have a student who has not been diagnosed with dysgraphia, but you suspect that it could be an issue, recommend the child to your school counselor or testing center for evaluation. It may be possible for him to qualify for additional special education and occupational therapy resources, as well, which can only benefit him at school.

Learning more about dysgraphia and other learning challenges can help all children succeed at school and allows teachers the tools necessary to reach every student in the classroom.

To better prepare for working with students with disabilities, see our inclusion course.

What Makes a Great Teacher

November 13th, 2019 | Comments Off on What Makes a Great Teacher | Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

Elementary science teacher

Educators get into the field for many different reasons. Maybe it runs in the family. Maybe it’s been a lifelong dream. Or maybe, it sounds good to have summers “off.” Whatever the reason, there are qualities that make great teachers stand out among their peers.

Excellent teachers:

  • Are organized and prepared. Lessons are planned in advance and presented clearly. Classrooms are neat, appealing, and minimize potential distractions.
  • Have well-defined class objectives outlined in lesson plans. Included are lesson topics, grading policy, assignments, and materials required. Student work is graded in a timely manner.
  • Have high expectations for every student no matter what their ability or background.
  • Know the subject matter well enough to teach it to students. This may require additional reading, study, and professional development. Teacher enthusiasm for a subject is crucial for students to want to learn more.
  • Can engage students and help them see things in different ways. They encourage students to ask questions and invite participation from everyone in the class. Motivation comes from using a variety of teaching techniques rather than sticking to a lecture format all the time.
  • Have healthy relationships with their students and show them that they care about them as people. Great teachers are accessible, sincere, and are involved in the school community.
  • Regularly communicate with parents, not just when something is wrong, but when students are doing well, too. Emails, written notes, parent-teacher conferences, and phone calls are a regular part of communication for each student and their family.

If parents are concerned about the quality of the teaching staff at their children’s schools, there are some things they can do to help. Encourage the school district to raise professional teacher standards, aid in making changes to teacher preparation programs and continuing professional development, raising salaries and improving teacher working conditions, and offering much-needed encouragement and rewards for teachers who meet the qualifications for “great” teachers.