Teacher’s Lounge Blog

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

Are Teachers Adequately Prepared to Teach Exceptional Children?

June 11th, 2019 | Comments Off on Are Teachers Adequately Prepared to Teach Exceptional Children? | Certification Prep, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

Teaching Students with Disabilities

It is a rare elementary classroom, including those in the private sector, where all 15-30 students are of average capability. While the majority do fall within standard parameters, there are those who are both above and below that spectrum, whether due to learning disabilities like ADHD and dyslexia, autism spectrum disorders, emotional issues, or extraordinary intelligence that exceeds that of their peers.

Educators need to have the appropriate training and experience to handle the wide variety of learning abilities in the classroom to effectively reach all students in ways that work best for their requirements. This is a challenge that much of today’s teaching population faces and where many teachers fall short.

A report compiled by Understood.org and the National Center for Learning Disabilities reveals that just 30% of general education teachers strongly believe that they are adequately prepared to teach students with learning disabilities. Also, 1/3 of study participants have not had any professional development instruction on meeting the needs of students with disabilities in the classroom.

Many people believe that this problem stems from teacher education programs that lack a special education course requirement or, if such a class is offered, it does not provide enough “hands-on” work for teachers to feel comfortable teaching students with disabilities. Only ten states have specific teacher education courses for students that have mild to moderate learning disabilities (National Center for Learning Disabilities).

Since there is a lack of requisite options in most teacher education programs across the country, the burden to seek out adequate training lies with educators rather than with school districts and the schools themselves. A course like Prepforward’s “Preparing Teachers for Inclusive Classrooms” goes a long way to help teachers know what to expect and how to prepare for the exceptional child or children who may be part of their classes.

This online course focuses on the challenges that these students pose to an inclusive classroom environment and how the teacher can adapt strategies for meeting the individual needs of these students that include lesson planning, classroom management, and technical support tools as resources.

While many general educators feel that they are unprepared to work with children with disabilities, most want to learn more about how they can help all the students in their classrooms. With additional preparation through online and on-ground coursework and in-services, teachers can ease frustrations about meeting the needs of every student in their care.

How More Teachers Can Pass Licensing Exams the First Time

May 28th, 2019 | Comments Off on How More Teachers Can Pass Licensing Exams the First Time | Certification Prep, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

Although prospective teachers work diligently in their teacher prep programs, more still needs to be done to prepare them for their first teaching assignment in a real-life classroom of their own. A National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) report published earlier this year states that over half of elementary teacher candidates do not pass licensing tests due to insufficient preparation in college coursework.

Expanding the teacher workforce becomes even more challenging when teachers want to teach but are unable to attain a position because of poor exam scores. The same report found that only 46% of individuals pass licensing tests with African American candidates passing at 38%. This leads to gaps in teacher diversification across the country, as well as a shortage of qualified educators.

Most of these teacher candidates have significant holes in content knowledge that contribute to poor performance on standard licensing tests. NCTQ reports that about ¾ of the undergraduate teaching programs in the United States do not cover the amount of mathematical knowledge required for elementary teachers, while 1/10 do not adequately contain enough English basics.

Individuals enrolled in university teacher training programs should take courses that meet four attributes to ensure that they are adequately prepared not only to graduate but pass a licensing exam:

  1. Relevant to current teaching practices and topics found in elementary classrooms.
  2. Feasibly taught in one or two semesters rather than touching only on the basics in a broader course.
  3. Offer an assortment of content that teachers may need to know.
  4. Focus on the content and how to teach it.

Although teacher candidates can take courses that lack one or more of the above characteristics and they can be beneficial, these classes may not fit into an already heavy course schedule. Core knowledge is of primary importance and concern.

Many times, institutions of higher learning already offer relevant courses, so they don’t need to create new ones. Instead, teacher education programs should adjust their parameters to include general education classes to satisfy program requirements and help to ensure that future teachers can pass licensing exams anywhere in the country and be confident for the classroom.

Click here for more information on PrepForward’s teacher certification preparation courses.

Selecting Essay Topic on FTCE

October 16th, 2018 | Comments Off on Selecting Essay Topic on FTCE | Certification Prep, Literacy Certification, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses, Writing Certification

 

Many teacher licensing exams, such as the Florida FTCE, have a writing test that gives you an option to choose your prompt. Both prompts will lend themselves to excellent essays. The trick is to choose the one that fits your skills and experience. Here are some points to consider.

 

  1. Match your selection with your knowledge. When you read the prompts, you will likely have one of three reactions: “Yes, Yes, Yes!! I know this one!” Or “No! No way! Can. Not.” or “Hmmm…looks about the same.” If you have a “Yes!” choose it and be done. If you have a “No,” obviously you know what to do there. If you have a “Hmmm…,” don’t overthink it. Continue to the other strategies for selecting your topic.
  2. Consider the grading criteria. Your score on some areas such as conventions or organization will not be particularly impacted by your selection; however, your score on focus, ideas, and word choice could be doomed with the wrong choice.
    Support Because your essay needs focused support to develop the topic, try to jot down a thesis statement. Can you come up with two or three points that you’re able to support adequately? Do you have some anecdotal evidence or some research to work in?
    Word Choice List your key vocabulary. Make sure you have the domain specific vocabulary you’ll need. For example, if your topic is reading levels and you can’t remember the words instructional, frustration, and independent, you’re going to be in trouble. Look at the other topic.
  1. Evaluate the purpose. The FTCE gives you a choice of a topic to explain or a topic to defend with a position. Identify which prompt tends to expository and which lends toward a position. What’s your preference? Would you prefer to write an expository essay supported by facts or a position paper supported by reasons?
  2. Commit If you’ve followed steps 1-3, by this point, either one option is the obvious right choice for you, or it probably doesn’t make much difference. Today’s world offers more options than any human can accommodate. As a result, we flip through movies, shows, songs, posts, etc. We struggle with commitment. Don’t be non-committal on the FTCE essay. Commit. Commit quickly and completely. You’ve got your topic. Now write.

One early prep strategy: anticipate essay questions. What are the topics you’ve addressed multiple times through your courses? Think tech, school choice, teacher’s rights/responsibilities, student needs. Write out strong essays on viable topics. Develop some stock answers that you can massage on test day.

One last minute test strategy: On test day, as you answer multiple choice questions, note the academic vocabulary in the questions. Those words may become very precious when you write the essay.

 

Countdown to Teacher Licensure Exam

October 1st, 2018 | Comments Off on Countdown to Teacher Licensure Exam | Certification Prep, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

As you approach your teacher licensure exam, you can take specific actions that will ensure you are confidently prepared to test. You want to show up on your state’s annual pass rate report in the pass column rather than in the fail column.

You have been anticipating this exam since your first education course your freshman year of college. Now, you find that the time has come to reserve your exam day and make your final preparations. What’s your plan?

Determine the required tests. Exam requirements vary wildly from state-to-state. Ideally, six months before you want to test, you’ll set aside a two-hour block to read every word of your state’s education department website that relates to specifications for certification.

Review the entire set of test objectives and descriptive statements. You can find the test objectives on the website of the test provider for your state.

Try some practice questions. The test provider, your state education department, and/or your university will have a few sample questions on their websites. Again, set aside a block of time—this time to test. Review your results. Determine where you stand.

Review your coursework. Every reputable education course has some content which appears on teacher licensure tests. Commonly, instructors flag the content that aligns to the stated test objectives. Review the content flagged in your coursework.

Feel overwhelmed. And, yes, that is a required step. If you do not find yourself overwhelmed with the enormity of preparing for a licensure exam, you have underestimated the gravity of the task ahead of you. Some licensure tests have pass rates in the 50% range. Absorb that thought and rush to your next step.

Take a test prep course. PrepForward, for example, states, Our courses have been proven to boost performance on licensing exams. Our pass rates are near perfect.” We recommend that you get the prep course several months in advance to allow yourself to benefit from all features of the course. In addition to lessons, you’ll find scores of sample questions with in-depth explanations. Instructors are available. Using all features of the course works provides substantial benefit. If you’re down to your last weeks and days, while it’s not your best option, it may be time to cram. Prep courses provide you with a succinct one-stop source for coaching.

Acquire physical and mental stamina. Check the time allotted for your test. Use your test prep course to practice sustaining a mentally-demanding activity for the allotted test time. During that time, be conscious of your restroom breaks, avoid eating, avoid diversions such as checking phone messages. Maintain focused attention on your one task.

Every year, thousands of candidates follow these or similar steps to pass their teacher licensure exams. Get started today on making sure your next career step is a positive one.

 

Licensure Tests: Prepare or Procrastinate?

July 3rd, 2018 | Comments Off on Licensure Tests: Prepare or Procrastinate? | Certification Prep, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

For the first time in decades, teacher licensure has become easier rather than more difficult in multiple states. Teacher shortages have pushed legislators to re-evaluate the high scores that have been required at various levels of teacher preparation. It’s not too difficult to imagine returning to a time when candidates were deemed qualified for their first year of teaching by completing course work, a single basic test, and student teaching under a master teacher.

Once upon a time, your only ticket into a teaching career was to pass licensure tests. Now, you’re looking at the reality that you may not have to pass as many licensure tests—or at least not with a score that required selling your soul for a year of grueling preparation.

Given the potential for more reasonable requirements, are you wise to prepare or to wait it out? I’m going with the unpopular answer of—you still need to prepare and work for the highest score possible. Let’s consider some reasons.

Economics:

Educators and legislators alike suspect that one factor driving teacher shortages is money. The level of attention being given to teacher salaries, benefits, and retirement plans is unprecedented. Ideally, the attention that teacher compensation has attracted will result in greater revenue. If that happens, more candidates with higher qualifications are likely to be drawn to teaching. At that point, states may be able to revert to or maintain high requirements and still keep their teachers. Securing a high test score makes sure you’re qualified not just during a temporary teacher shortage, but for the long term as well.

Content Mastery:

Teachers have to be good at so many things. You need to be able to communicate, organize, motivate, entertain, and manage resources, just to name a few. Did I mention teach?? With so many demands, you don’t also want to be wrangling with the academics. You can take some stress off the daily demands by becoming a master in your content area. Mastery of the content was one of the intents of licensure testing. Push for that mastery now—don’t put it off until you’re in the classroom.

Career:

It’s hard to predict the next turn that will be made to guarantee high quality teachers who can provide an excellent education to American students. While requirements may shift at least temporarily, the future of teacher certification is unknown. Hitting the high standards of today may turn into one of the best career moves you could make.

 

Do yourself, your students, and your career the courtesy of meeting the high requirements of today. Be wary of an attitude that rejoices at lowering requirements for teachers. Strive to be the one that can earn a top score on the test and then transfer your pursuit of excellence on to your students.

Effective Teachers Deliver

April 19th, 2018 | Comments Off on Effective Teachers Deliver | Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

Article from the Series: Essentials for Effective New Teachers

Instructional delivery is the method that a teacher uses to transport the students from the known to the unknown. Complex analyses have been conducted to determine the best teacher practices to maximize student learning. Instructional delivery is a point of profound vulnerability for beginning teachers; because, even if you excel in all other areas of the profession, failure to deliver a lesson that educates your students means that you have not done your job.

Let’s consider three potential pitfalls.

Technology: Every 21st Century classroom has been impacted by technology. You are in a position to determine tech’s role for your students. You may go old school—producing your own lessons from scratch and requiring tech-free responses from your students. You may go with a high tech, inquiry-based method where students have freedom to research questions posed by the teacher. More likely, your classroom will be a balance of tech and tech-free learning.

A bit of caution:

  • If you found the worksheet on the internet, your students can find the answer key.
  • If you want your students to generate original projects, the YouTube video you downloaded last night is probably not an appropriate way to model your expectation. You need to display more creativity and originality than you expect from your students.
  • Tech can be a time sucker. Avoid spending three hours looking for the perfect 2-minute hook to capture your students’ attention.

Practice: A rigorous lesson in any field requires practice and reinforcement. Arduous lessons must be supported with arduous practice. Watch out for the review game that eats up half of the class period with activity that is unrelated to your lesson objective. Factor in how long it will take to pass out devices, wait for them to boot up, and get all students on the right page, etc. Some days, a simple tic tac toe game with rapid fire questions will bring you closer to your goal.

Provide scaffolding as needed. If your final objective is for students to write a cause and effect essay on an event in history, consider that students will first need to know the facts of history. Consider using a Venn diagram in which you provide the main points and require the students just to sort the points between causes and effects. In your practice, provide all the information in matching, sorting, or multiple-choice questions. Move to fill-in-the-blank, then ease on over to short answer. After you’ve modeled the task a few times, hand over ownership for the learning to the students. Guide them gently from known to unknown, being careful not to introduce new activities or projects with new content.

Cumulative review plus some opportunities for students to acquire the learning without punishment are known to be components of an effective delivery.

Grit: As a new teacher, capitalize on your idealism. You may be surrounded by teachers who have become jaded. The battles that wage war in the lives of your students may leave them with no energy to focus on a lesson on misplaced modifiers or conditional probability. For you, however, disillusionment and fatigue are not an option. Your personal life is a non-factor during the school day. Every day, you must be the hardest working person in the classroom; and as a new teacher, you may be the hardest working person on the property. It’s your story to tell.

Structuring the pace, content, activities, and methods of your delivery day after day will be a colossal task, but it will be rewarded. Your student will benefit, and you will grow as a professional who can do one of the most important tasks on earth.

Delivery will be the core of your visible success as a teacher. Your knowledge, planning, organizational strategies, and overall professional behavior will feed into your successful delivery; but they cannot compensate for failed delivery in the classroom. If delivery is an area where you struggle, don’t despair. Research, scrutinize your lessons, find a mentor. You can become a teacher with an unforgettable delivery.