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The Competencies & Skills Required for Teacher Certification

by Maria OCadiz

Prospective teachers need to demonstrate certain competencies and skills before they can be certified and employed to teach students in elementary or high school. The State Board of Education ordinarily prescribes teacher certification requirements, and these vary slightly from state to state. Nevertheless, in all states, teachers require a bachelor’s degree, completion of an approved teacher-training program, a pass in a basic competency test and supervised teaching practice. Undergoing these prescribed processes enables teachers to develop the competencies and skills that they need to impart knowledge to students.

Professional Education

Obtaining an undergraduate degree exposes potential teachers to general teaching knowledge and trains them in various aspects of the profession. They learn about classroom management, sourcing for course content, lesson preparation and delivering teaching material in a manner appropriate for the age and level of students they will be teaching. An undergraduate degree also allows the future teacher to specialize in a subject area and learn the content as well as the methods and practices of teaching such a subject. Attaining a good grade point average would also help in the certification process since it demonstrates mastery of the subject the individual intends to teach.

Basic Competencies

In a number of states, prospective teachers also have to take and pass a basic competency test administered by the State Board of Education. The test seeks to assess level of competency in reading, writing and mathematics, which are basic skills required in daily functions. A potential teacher must achieve a qualifying score on the test to be considered for certification. For example, in Nebraska, students going into teaching need to take the Praxis I basic competency test and another known as Praxis II if they wish to teach in elementary school.

Teaching Preparation

Undergoing a state-approved teacher preparation program either as an alternative to professional education, such as in Texas, or in some states, in addition to the same, to further develop the requisite skills and competencies to teach is also a prerequisite to certification. Teacher preparation programs typically consist of a combination of fieldwork and curricula covering topics such as student instruction, art and science of teaching and preparing students to implement their learning experiences. The Board of Education may prescribe the number of subjects and education credits that an aspiring teacher needs in order to attain certification.

Practical Experience

Practical experience in teaching is the most notable demonstration of the requisite skills and competencies to become a certified teacher. In addition to the professional education and training programs, aspiring teachers must undergo a supervised teaching experience in a school within the state where they want to practice. Teaching practice provides the opportunity to learn firsthand about managing students in the classroom, dealing with the students’ varying pace of learning, handling diversity and learning disabilities and all other practical aspects of educating children.

About the Author

Maria OCadiz has been writing professionally since 1982, most recently publishing for various websites on topics like health and wellness, and education. She holds a Master of Arts in Education. She is a former university professor, curriculum facilitator and teacher.

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