March 27, 2010

Using Endorsements to Jumpstart Your Master’s in Education

In education, furthering your personal education gets you raises, better jobs, and equips you with tools to continue your teaching. This is something that every educator would love to do (we’re teachers, we love to learn), but often don’t know where to begin or how to find the time. Here are some ways for you to get started and find the time to do so.

One great way to start into a Master of Education is to start small. A lot of subject areas have additional endorsements that help teachers to become “highly qualified” to teach different areas within their subject. For example, as a language arts teacher, I could also get a Reading Endorsement to expand the things that I am able to teach. There are also general endorsements that are available for all teaching areas and encouraged in some. Examples of these endorsements are English as a Second Language (highly sought after), Gifted and Talented Endorsement, and Special Education Endorsement (also highly sought after). Endorsements require that a teacher complete several college courses, as well as practicum courses where you apply what you’ve learned in your classroom.

A personal example of this is that I am working on a Gifted and Talented Endorsement, as I teach in a Gifted and Talented magnet school for my district. For this endorsement, I am required to take 16 credits of college courses from an accredited Gifted and Talented program at an accredited university. For this program, my district has partnered with a local university to provide shortened semesters and three hour weekly, night classes taught by education professors and professionals. The district shoulders some of the cost, allowing teachers discounted tuition in order to gain the endorsement. They also provide the books for the course, allowing teachers to check them out for the duration of the class. The classes are usually about two months long and require mostly reading, group projects, and lesson planning that I would be doing anyway. The environment is more of sharing with fellow professionals, rather than a college course. It’s a great program and very teacher-friendly. Several districts in my state provide these opportunities, particularly for high demand endorsements, such as Reading and English as a Second Language. In fact, some schools require teachers to start the endorsement programs upon hire.

Endorsements are great, but not a Master of Education, however they are a great way to start a program at a university. Those 16 credit hours that make up my endorsement may be rolled into a Masters program with the cooperating university, which I am doing. This leaves me with 20 hours of additional credits to complete the program, all achievable through online and night courses on a satellite campus. The best part about it is, since I am working at a Gifted and Talented school, my school pays for my Gifted and Talented endorsement, so part of my program is paid for.

Master’s programs can be difficult to get started. Getting an endorsement can be a great way to get started. So, check with your district, see what programs they offer, Starting with an endorsement makes you more marketable as a teacher, but also is a great way to get a jump start on a master’s program.