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How to Choose a Teaching Program

Know your options for getting certified, and learn what to consider in a teaching program.
Browse Programs

How to Choose a Teaching Program

Know your options for getting certified, and learn what to consider in a teaching program.
Browse Programs

To become a fully certified teacher in a public school, you need to attend an approved teaching program. You’ll get the skills and knowledge you need to teach in your chosen grade and subject. 

Let’s break it down and find the right path for you.

Attending a teaching program is one of several steps to earn your certificate. Get a full explanation of the certification process, plus a downloadable guide, on our About Certification page.

On this page:

4 Ways to Complete Your Teacher Training

An undergraduate certificate and bachelor’s program may be a good fit if:

  • You know what subject and grade level you want to teach. 
  • You are in your first or second year of college. 

With an undergraduate program, you can:

  • Complete your teaching program as part of earning your bachelor’s degree.
  • Reduce the total cost and time you spend working toward your certificate.
  • Undergraduate certification

  • Certification after you earn your degree

  • Post-graduate, alternative certification

  • Post-graduate, residency model

Make sure your program works for you

Once you have an idea of which pathway is right for you, you’ll want to make sure that your must-haves are covered. 

Your teaching program should:

  • Offer a credential in the grade and subject you want to teach. Confirm that your program has been accredited by one of Missouri's approved accreditation agencies.
  • Be approved for certification in Missouri. TEACH Missouri’s program explorer can get your search started.
  • Work for you financially.
  • Work with your schedule. Program coursework can be mostly online, in-person or a mix of both, and all programs require fieldwork in schools.

Once you have these logistics covered, you can look more closely at the values and focus of the programs you’re considering, to find the best fit.

 

What to look for in a teaching program

Each teaching program has its own approach to skill-building, mentorship and instruction. As you explore teaching programs, consider how you learn best and what skills are important to you. 

Current teachers, teacher preparation program officials and school district HR chiefs (you know, the experts) say that a strong teaching program should offer these hallmarks:

  • Lots of hands-on experience
  • Preparation to teach diverse populations
  • Mentoring and coaching
  • Commitment to continuous improvement

TEACH Missouri offers support for every step of your teacher prep journey, including how-to guides, deadline reminders, application checklists and 1-on-1 support. Sign up for free access.

Teaching Program Hallmarks

What is hands-on, pre-service experience? 

Pre-service experience refers to any teaching practice you get before you lead your own classroom. This experience can come in a variety of forms, such as student teaching.

What is student teaching?

In traditional undergraduate, master's or licensure-only programs, your pre-service program typically includes one or two semesters of working in an experienced teacher’s classroom. This is usually called "student teaching" and often occurs during your final year in the program. 

Why is hands-on experience important? 

Teachers are more likely to feel prepared for their first year in the classroom if they get plenty of classroom experience as a part of their prep program. Opportunities to observe other teachers and to practice teaching can make all the difference for early-career educators. 

As a rule, more pre-service experience is better, but quality definitely matters. 

Make sure to ask any prospective programs about what their pre-service experience entails, including:

  • How long it lasts.
  • How the program selects mentor teachers.
  • How you will receive feedback on your practice.
  • Hands on, pre-service experience

  • Preparation to teach diverse populations

  • Mentoring and coaching

  • Commitment to improvement

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