What Courses Should Pre-Service Teachers Take?

It’s only fitting that becoming a teacher requires going to school. Lectures, notes, books, other teachers, homework – it’s all there. But what does learning to become a teacher actually look like?

Teacher education programs contain both theoretical and practical lessons, to enable education students to benefit from both classroom and field experiences. The coursework can be split into three main categories:

1. General education
2. Professional education
3. Areas of specialization

In addition to the coursework, education students are required to complete an internship that usually lasts for about one school term, though the time requirement varies from state to state. This is called the student teaching experience, which is a great way to apply your newly acquired theoretical knowledge in the real world of teaching. Students may also take one or more certification exams according to the grade level and subject area they want to be certified in.

Category 1: General Education
General education courses include English, physical education, mathematics, science, social studies, fine arts, and so on. Most education students are required to take these courses, the exception being those with an International Baccalaureate (IB) or Advanced Placement (AP) credit. Apart from these courses, some institutions may require students to take other courses, such as religion or foreign language, and may also require education students to undergo proficiency tests to identify the appropriate level of course for them.

Category 2: Professional Education
For prospective teachers, professional education courses offer a great chance to build a solid foundation in the field of education. These courses include introduction to education, classroom management, and so on. Essentially, these are the teacher education courses that all prospective teachers take in common, whether they are elementary, English, secondary, special, or physical education majors. These courses lead to more specific courses, which will instruct them on how to plan and deliver effective instruction in their major. Without these professional education courses, many students wouldn’t have the background needed to understand more advanced theories and concepts in education.

Category 3: Specialization Courses
These include but are not limited to specific methods courses, such as middle school math, secondary social studies, elementary reading, and also advanced education theories and concepts. These courses deal with the subject matter at a very detailed and specialized level, introducing material that will be taught day to day. Also, these courses provide teacher education candidates with specific pedagogical methods and strategies that they can use to instruct their future pupils. For example, at this point, a special education major would begin taking courses constructed specifically to train students to work with students with special needs. These courses may also be complemented by field experiences, depending on the college or university offering the program.
At some universities, these courses are taught by faculty members in the School/College of Arts and Sciences, while at other universities, they are taught by members of the education faculty. In another possible configuration, specialization courses are taught by a mixture of education and arts and sciences faculty.

Taking the courses necessary to become an educator is your chance to really get down what it feels like to be a student. While some classes will be thrilling and others will go by slowly as a snail on a hot day, all of the courses you take are your chance to experience firsthand what it’s like to learn. Take note of your experience – it will be a valuable tool in helping you create a vibrant and productive classroom environment for your students when it’s your turn to stand on the other side of the podium!

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