What’s the Best Teaching Environment for ASD Students?

Students with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can pose unique teaching challenges due to the complexity of the range of disorders and students’ individual level of disability, which can range from mildly impaired to severely disabled. As a developmental disorder, ASD is characterized by a variety of social, communication and behavioral challenges, requiring teachers to have deep knowledge in these areas.

While a special education classroom might be a great fit for some ASD students, an inclusive, mainstream classroom might work best for others. Within each classroom environment, teachers can also tap into a variety of special education to teach students with ASD, such as Floortime, PRT, SCERTS and TEACCH. Due to so many educational options, this sparks the debate of whether students with ASD perform better in mainstream classroom settings or self-contained environments.

Self-contained vs. Integrated Classrooms

When students with ASD stay in self-contained classrooms, the environment can feel more accepting because they see other students “just like them.” Created to help foster enhanced support for students with special needs, self-contained classrooms – commonly led by a special education teacher –have fewer students, fewer transitions and fewer distractions. This smaller student-to-teacher ratio coupled with the advanced training of special education teachers can provide a greater level of attention and differentiated instruction that caters to the unique challenges of special needs students. 

Since the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was enacted in 1975, schools are required to serve the educational needs of eligible students with disabilities. Recently schools have shifted towards an integrated classroom model, also known as “inclusivity” or “mainstreaming.” The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Center for Autism Research says that inclusive classrooms promote “a welcoming environment for all, where differences are valued and learning opportunities are accessible to all, in every classroom.”

Ari Ne’eman, co-founder of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, goes a step further in an NPR interview by saying that “segregated schools lead to segregated societies.” Ne’eman, who was appointed to the National Council on Disability by former President Obama, says that many segregated schools and classrooms have “a culture of low expectations.”

While both sides of the debate have merit, there’s no consensus on which educational setting serves special needs students best.

“Currently there is no specific method to evaluate whether a child on the spectrum learns better with typically developing peers in their classroom or makes better progress in a self-contained classroom that provides one-on-one teaching and therapy,” says Dr. Michelle Rowe, Ph.D., professor and chair, Department of Health Services and past founding executive director, Kinney Center for Autism, affiliated with Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. “It’s important to remember that each child has his or her unique way of learning […] there is no ‘one size fits all’ in autism.”

Readying to Teach ASD Students

With so many unique teaching methods and skills to master when instructing ASD students, special education teachers need, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree (such as in special education or elementary education), along with a teaching license. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, “many states offer general licenses in special education that allow teachers to work with students with a variety of disabilities. Others offer licenses or endorsements based on a disability-specific category, such as autism or behavior disorders.”

Many professionals choose to pursue a Master’s of Special Education, often with a focus on autism, due to the complexity of the disorder.

Taking advanced, specialized training or pursuing an advanced education better prepares educators to understand the special needs of students with ASD and assist with their challenges, whether these students are in a special education classroom or integrated classroom.

Learn more about career opportunities in this important specialty, and if you’re ready to pursue advanced education options then check out our favorite online degree programs.

SEL: More Important Now Than Ever

It’s a Whole New World

Educators are coming to an understanding that developing academic skills in students at school are no longer enough. As the world continues to change, so do the demands on the skills that students must learn. Some people refer to these skills as 21st century learning skills that incorporate ideas such as critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication, technology literacy, and the ability to problem solve. Intertwined with these skills is a rewed emphasis on developing skills related to a student’s social emotional learning (SEL). These skills range from being self-aware, managing your emotions, and working with others. These non-academic skills were once deemed not as important as academic skills, but that viewpoint is slowly diminishing and here’s why.

SEL Boosts Academic Achievement

An old African Proverb states, “When the fingers on the hand are fighting, they cannot pickup the food.” It eloquently states that more often than not, behavior can impact one’s ability to be successful either individually or as a team. SEL builds on this same concept as it seeks to emphasize non-academic skills as a foundation to helping students improve their academic skills. If a student cannot work well with others, manage stress, or regulate their emotions, this will hinder their ability to learn. SEL helps students develop skills that will help them in the long run as they learn about core content areas like math, science, and language arts.

SEL Improves Employability

Because our communities continue to become increasingly diverse and multicultural, so has the future workplace. Emphasis on communication and collaboration have never been higher, however more and more coworkers do not share common languages, values, or beliefs. For our students to survive in this new global economy, being able to listen to different ideas from co-workers and perform collaborative tasks are essential. Students need to be able to create and maintain relationships with diverse individuals and groups. The ability to communicate clearly, listen well, cooperate with others, resist inappropriate social pressure, negotiate conflict constructively, and seek and offer help when needed will be mainstays of the future workplace. Our students need to be able to entertain various perspectives and empathize with others, especially with coworkers from diverse backgrounds and cultures. As students develop these skills, future employers will be ready to hire them.

SEL Helps Manage Negative Emotions

The world is extremely fast paced and with that pace can come stress and other negative emotions. If students can learn how to be able to recognize their own emotions and identify how they can influence their own behavior, then they will be at a distinct advantage over their peers that cannot. Students also need to be able to regulate their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors because this will not only impact their work but it will also impact their overall health. When students can develop project-management skills, goal setting and organization skills, and stress management skills, they will be able to successfully navigate stress and work towards developing a healthy body and healthy mind. Being able to effectively manage stress, control impulses, and work toward personal and academic goals are all skills that are developed when students participate in SEL.

SEL: A New Advantage

As knowledge becomes a commodity and employers care more and more about what their employees can do with information and how they can work with others, the need for socially and emotionally intelligent workers is reaching a peak. The more that SEL can be provided to our students now, then the more advantage they will have as our world shifts towards a global economy where a new set of skills is required to be successful. Workers with these skills will end up being better prepared to be the workforce of tomorrow as the world continues to change.

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Building a Positive School Culture

What Makes a Good School?

When acquaintances find out that I am an elementary school principal, they invariably ask me about other schools in their own neighborhood and if I would recommend them. My answer to their question is always the same: a school is as good as its culture and the people that work within it. Well, what makes good school culture? Is it when the school principal knows every child’s name? Is it when the lunch room serves their famous peanut butter bars every Friday? Or is it a combination of things that help your school be great? Regardless of what you think makes a good school, here are some great ideas for educators to help improve the culture at your own school.

1. Share Your Story

The old adage,”No news is good news” does not apply to schools. If schools aren’t entirely focused on communicating to the community about the good things that are going on at the school, then the community will assume that nothing good is happening at the school. Schools can communicate their story through social media or some other parent communication platform like Class Dojo. The important thing to remember is to highlight events, school staff, and of course the students! As schools share their story, schools will build a positive culture that will impact everyone. From taking a picture of a student and a teacher who received a special recognition award, to writing a few sentences about the fall festival carnival that the school had the prior week—all “good news” should be shared to build positive school culture.

2. Show School Spirit

Another way to build school culture is to put an emphasis on showing school spirit at your school. Do you incentivize students to wear school colors? Does your school have a mascot that a student can dress up in? Does your school have a school song and do the students know the words? Does your school feature a central piece of artwork like a mosaic or mural that depicts your school motto or something that appeals to children? Does your school have kid-friendly decorations in the halls or does it look like a really old museum? The more a school appeals to its student body and instills a sense of pride about where they go to get their education, then the more a school will build on a strong tradition of success and strengthen school culture.

3. Make it Personal

The last way to build a strong school culture to allow teachers and students the ability to personalize their school to make it home. When was the last time you asked the faculty if they wanted to renovate or update the faculty lounge? Are students allowed to give input on the classroom and which flexible seating options might be available? Are students allowed to provide input on what types of pictures and games are put on the blacktop for students to participate in at recess? When students and teachers spend as much time as they do at school, we owe it to them to provide a place that makes them feel appreciated. At our school we renovated our teachers lounge. We got rid of the horrible and ugly furniture that was dark and looked like your grandma’s basement. Now it is bright colors with blankets and snacks. Teachers were allowed to provide input on the new teachers lounge and it strengthened the positive school culture at our school. When you allow teachers and students to personalize their school environment, then the school turns into “our school.”

Good Culture Takes Time

Positive school culture can be built in a myriad of different ways, but the most important thing that anyone can remember is that building a good culture takes time. Take a walk around your school and see how personalized it is. Go outside at recess to see if students are wearing school colors.I. Ask a random student if they know your school song by heart. If your school is in need of a culture makeover, then be patient and start the culture change today. Your school’s future students will thank you for it!

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How to Receive Your Applied Behavior Analysis Certification

Due to the high value placed on employees in today’s workplace, credentialed organizational development professionals can be sought-after additions to a business’ managerial team.

Learn how to receive an Applied Behavior Analysis Certification to stand out from the competition and earn a place helping businesses achieve long-term success.

Why Businesses Need Certified Behavior Analysts

To attract, retain and develop professionals with in-demand skills, organizations are embracing the human side of staff and talent management, making employee satisfaction and retention key organizational goals. This requires human resources and executive management to manage people/resources/capital on a human level, applying behavioral analysis to determine the best courses of action.

According to the 2017 article, “Beyond Human Resources: 4 Ways to Improve Human Capital Management,” the transition from traditional human resources, to the more dynamic, strategic developmental functions of today’s HR and human capital management pros involves a move to “people resource management.”

The transition includes methods to optimize workforce acquisition, management and optimization and may include behavioral analysis and personality tests to discover and adjust for individual or generational preferences.

Armed with this information, a certified behavioral analyst develops, implements and measures the effectiveness of people resource management program results to determine whether they meet organizational goals.

With an increasing emphasis placed on individuals in the workplace, an aspiring professional with an advanced business analytics degree can set themselves apart by pursuing a certification to advance their behavioral analyst status beyond their master’s degree.

What is an Applied Behavior Analysis Certification?

An applied behavior analysis certification is a graduate-level certification allowing individuals to work independently and provide behavior analytics services. This certification is administered by the Behavioral Analysis Certification Board (BACB). The board has established the quality standards for behavioral analysts to offer their services in the psychology, criminal justice and business fields.

In addition to foundational knowledge of behavioral analysis within various settings, the BACB tests individuals with graduate-level degrees on the fundamentals of behavioral analytics and the tasks professionals will conduct on behalf of employers and clients. Those who have earned the Applied Behavior Analysis Certification (ABAC) have met or exceeded the quality and professional standards set by the BACB.

How Do I Earn the Applied Behavior Analysis Certification?

Applicants must meet one of three requirements to be eligible to take the ABA exam:

  1. Possess a graduate degree with 270 hours of graduate-level coursework in behavioral analysis, education or psychology from an accredited university or a graduate program that features BACB-approved graduate coursework.

  2. Applicant has earned an acceptable graduate degree (see above) and is a full-time faculty member teaching behavior analysis. The individual’s teaching position must include research and instruction, as well as 1,500 supervised hours of practical experience.

  3. A minimum of 10 years of postdoctoral practical experience combined with an acceptable doctoral degree earned within the past 10 years.

After meeting the eligibility requirements, applicants must submit a completed application and all required documentation to demonstrate that all BABC requirements have been met.

The BACB provides a list of tasks related to the Applied Behavior Analysis Certification, which can serve as study topics for individuals with behavioral analytics degrees who want to prepare for the test.

During the test, the applicant will have four hours to complete 150 multiple-choice questions with four possible answers, and 10 ungraded pilot questions. Questions and answers cover assessing patients and implementing behavioral modification processes.

Administered by Pearson Vue, the test takes place in a computer-based testing format. Pearson Vue also offers a tutorial for students interested in taking the exam. Every few years, recertification is required to maintain the Applied Behavioral Analysis Certification.

What Does an Applied Behavioral Analysis Certification Mean to Employers?

With a greater emphasis on human resource development, the business case for behavioral analysts is substantial. In addition to a graduate-level business analytics degree, professionals with an Applied Behavioral Analysis Certificate show employers their commitment to a higher standard of excellence when developing strategies to optimize employee programs.

Regionally-accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, Saint Joseph’s University’s online Behavioral Analysis Certificate coursework features a behavioral analysis component that prepares students to sit for the Behavioral Analysis Certificate exam. Successfully achieving board certification can help place you ahead of a high-demand and exclusive field of behavioral analysis experts.

How the Autism Endorsement Can Advance Teaching Careers

With the number of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) on the rise, the
U.S. has great need for teachers trained to work with this very special population. The CDC 
estimated that in 2014, one in 59 children in the United States had been diagnosed with some
form of ASD. Just 14 years prior, the estimate was one in 150 children.

Most children who’ve been diagnosed with ASD will attend the same schools and work
alongside their non-ASD peers. In fact, the National Center for Education Statistics indicates
that only 7.4% of children with autism attend specialized schools for students with disabilities,
while 91% spend all or part of their school-days within general classrooms of what the NCES
 classifies as “regular” schools.

Because of this inclusion, teachers who are working on special education degrees might
consider an Autism Endorsement, which can be completed in conjunction with their online
degree program.

What is an Autism Endorsement?

An education endorsement is designed to improve teachers’ skills when they work in complex
classroom settings. The MS in Special Education with Autism Endorsement prepares teachers

  1. Understand the characteristics and causes of ASD
  2. Assess students, plan and evaluate instruction methods based on where they have been
diagnosed on the spectrum of autism
  3. Create development level-appropriate classrooms to accommodate ASD students
without disrupting teaching and learning for other students
  4. Effectively collaborate with other educators, service providers, parents and family 

One-third of Pennsylvania’s 93 state-approved universities offer Autism Endorsements for
teachers, including Saint Joseph University according to the state’s Department of Education.

Saint Joseph’s University’s online Autism Endorsement Concentration provides training to
teachers who want to work with children who’ve been diagnosed with ASD and their families.
The program can be completed online within two years.

Pennsylvania does not require teachers to become Certified Autism Specialists in order to work
with children who have been diagnosed with ASD; however, the endorsement provides a
competitive edge for teachers in the job market. The endorsement tells prospective employers
that you are professionally, emotionally and strategically ready to take on a diverse classroom
that includes children with special needs.

Benefits of a Master’s in SPED in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is among the top 5 states offering employment opportunities for special education teachers according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics’ 2017 figures. Among the benefits of an endorsement in autism are:

● Prepares teachers to work with children with special needs
● Enables them to help diagnose children with autism
● Positions teachers to become Certified Autism Specialists, a national endorsement from the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES)
● Rewarding in ways impossible to quantify, such as helping children affected by autism learn to communicate, socialize and live happy lives.

Autism Endorsement at Saint Joseph’s University

The program at Saint Joseph’s University online, which can be combined with Master of Science in Special Education (SPED), offers a four-course track curriculum:

● Initial diagnosis and advocacy
● Augmentative and alternative communication and socialization strategies
● Evidenced-based practices regarding assessment, interventions and instructional methodologies
● Applied behavior analysis and other behavior management approaches

These special-education courses prepare teachers to help recognize symptoms and accurately diagnose children while also helping to recommend education, communication and socialization strategies. Most importantly, the endorsement program helps educators understand the different ways children with special needs learn.

If you are interested in pursuing the Autism Endorsement program at Saint Joseph’s University click here for more information or call (866) 758-7670 today.

Can You Get a Teaching Certificate Online?

Having a bachelor’s degree doesn’t necessarily mean you can be a teacher. Getting a teaching certificate signifies that you have voluntarily gone much further in your pursuit to become a professional educator and that you have the skills needed to change students’ lives for the better. But what about an online teaching certificate?

Getting your teaching certificate online is equally as valid and valuable as earning one on-campus at a brick-and-mortar college or university. As long as you receive your online teaching certificate from an accredited institute you’ll have the same opportunities as someone who earned a teaching certificate the traditional way. Online teaching certificate programs also have several advantages over traditional certification programs, including the ability to:

  • Work comfortably at your own pace
  • Complete assignments and exams anywhere with an Internet connection
  • Earn your teaching certification while working full-time
  • Network with online learners around the country

Can you get a teaching certificate online? Yes. Should you get a teaching certificate online? If you have a busy schedule and want to change or advance your career without putting your life on hold, the online option is worth considering.

To help you make the decision, here’s a look at some of the requirements for earning your teaching certificate online. Additionally, there’s a bonus look at some other advanced teaching certifications worth pursuing if your aim is to become a leader in the education field.

Bachelor’s Degree Requirement

There are many requirements to become a teacher, and each state has its own unique criteria. All states require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, but the major requirements vary based on the level and subject you wish to teach. Likewise, most online teaching certificate programs also require a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university to enroll.

Student Teaching Field Experiences

Online teaching certificate programs offer more flexibility and convenience than on-campus, brick-and-mortar certificate programs. However, candidates seeking teaching certification online may still be required to complete approved and documented field mentorship experiences.

These student teaching experiences usually take place at the end of the program after students have completed all required online coursework. Check with the program you are interested in to find out whether you will be placed in a classroom or will need to set up your own field experience.

Advanced Teaching Certifications

In addition to basic online teaching certificates, there are advanced teaching certifications that can accelerate your career and increase your earning potential as an educator. The National Board Certification, for example, is an advanced teaching credential offered by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

Becoming National Board Certified complements a state’s teacher license. Candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree and have three full years of teaching experience as a state-licensed teacher. If you have teaching experience in a state where a license is not required, you must have taught in a school recognized and approved by the state.

Another advanced teaching certification is the Wilson Reading System® Certification. This program equips educators with the skills needed to help students become fluent, independent readers. WRS Level 1 Certification will complement your teaching certificate by preparing you to teach foundational reading and writing skills to children, teens and adults. Furthermore, WRS Level 1 Certification can pave the way for additional career opportunities in teaching as a Reading Specialist, Reading Therapist or Private Literacy Coach.

Take the First Step Toward Becoming a Teacher

If you’re passionate about becoming a teacher, the Online Accelerated Teacher Certification program from Saint Joseph’s University can help you earn your secondary teaching certificate (grades 7 – 12) in just four online semesters. Students can also take two elective courses to receive certification and a Master’s Degree in Secondary Education.

To learn more, call 866-758-7670 or request more information.

How Blended is My Classroom?

What is Blended Learning?

Blended Learning is a buzzword in education nowadays as technology has steadily crept more and more into every facet or our lives — including our schools. Blended Learning occurs when a student learns partially online, within a brick and mortar building, and along an individualized learning pathway ( It’s no surprise that the desire for personalized and convenient learning pathways has lead the education sector to embrace a new way of providing instruction to match the needs of its learners.

Blended Learning Classrooms — The New Norm

Blended Learning has long been around in higher education and judging by the number of online degrees that have been recently awarded across the United States — it’s safe to say that it’s here to stay. However, educators in elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools, are left questioning, “How Blended is My Classroom?” Educators in these areas must determine if changes are occurring in their classrooms to meet the needs of today’s learners. Determining how successfully they have “blended” their learning environment and where they can make improvements is crucial to any learning institution’s success.

How “Blended” Am I?

If you’re looking for a way to determine areas for improvement to your blended classroom initiative, look no further. Take a moment to study the vertical alignment of an educator’s journey on the road to a blended learning classroom. Then, your next bet is to make some measurable goals to get you headed on your way.

Traditional Instruction or Non-Blended Learning Instruction

⬥ Teachers infrequently allow students to learn faster or slower than the teacher. All students get the same homework.
⬥ Teachers infrequently plan differentiated activities for students that address personal interests, learning styles, or abilities.
⬥ Teachers tell students where to work in the classroom and infrequently provide access to online resources so students can learn outside the classroom.
⬥ Teachers teach before they assess students and find out what they know or let students explore concepts on their own.

Beginning to Blend Instruction

⬥ Teachers occasionally opt students out of work based on assessment data and they conduct stations or centers.
⬥ Teachers administer surveys to gain information and plan activities that address different learning modalities. Teachers allow students to occasionally choose how to demonstrate their understanding.
⬥ Teachers allow students to work in different places within the classroom and they post assignments online occasionally.
⬥ Teachers assess students, collect data, and teach mini-lessons to students occasionally.

Moderately Blending Instruction

⬥ Teachers do not provide whole-class instruction or non-differentiated homework. Students frequently participate in centers where they move about the classroom by choice.
⬥ Teachers prepare a variety of differentiated tasks based on student information. Students complete curriculum and personal interest projects with the help of rubrics and choice boards.
⬥ Teachers occasionally use a learning management system (LMS) to allow students to access curriculum content anywhere in the classroom or even outside of school.
⬥ Teachers assess students, collect data, and teach mini-lessons to students frequently. Students frequently monitor their own learning.

Heavily Blending Instruction

⬥ Students frequently work with differentiated playlists and are able to choose which tasks they work on and how long they spend on each task.
⬥ Students frequently conference with a teacher to determine which activities will best help them learn and how they will demonstrate their understanding.
⬥ Students frequently use a LMS to access the curriculum and occasionally complete work in a non-homeroom teacher’s classroom.
⬥ Students make learning goals and are systematically monitoring which learning objectives they have mastered.

Fully-Blended Classroom

⬥ Students explore concepts before any teacher instruction (mini-lessons) in grade-level and non-grade-level content areas.
⬥ Students can choose independently how to learn (by themselves, with a peer, or from the teacher) and demonstrate their understanding based on their personal interests, learning styles, or abilities.
⬥ Students frequently work in any grade-level classroom and can access all coursework online.
⬥ Students frequently make learning goals, collect data regarding the learning objectives that they have mastered, and conference with the teacher about their progress.

Conclusion: Blended Learning Takes Patience

After you you are sufficiently overwhelmed from self-assessing how “blended” you really are, just remember that elephants must be eaten one bite at a time and the same could be said for Blended Learning classrooms. No matter where you’re at with your Blended Learning knowledge or implemented strategies, know that it can take upwards of 2-3 years to fully transform your classroom to provide the individualized instruction that learners are craving — and that’s if your community is ready for it! The best advice I can give you is think big, start small, and go slow.

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Gamification in the Classroom

What is Gamification?

Leveling, power-ups, leaderboards, badges, and guilds are the vernacular of the gaming industry, but not of the classroom, right? Well, not so fast. More and more teachers are using gamification techniques in their classrooms. When you first hear about gamification in the classroom, you might instantly envision students playing video games while at school, however Gabe Zichermann, an author and public speaker about gamification, defined gamification in his 2011 Ted Talk as, “the process of using game thinking and game mechanics to engage audiences and solve problems.” Game mechanics like leaderboards and badges are becoming more prevalent in classrooms, but it’s more than that. Gamification centers around giving students more opportunities to take risks, create, and explore in ways that are meaningful to them. Many adults understand why students enjoy video games, but why are teachers now joining the ranks?

Why Teachers are Exploring Gamification

If you ask any teacher in the trenches, they will tell you that students are not the same as they were 20 years ago. Children are now part of a generation that some have dubbed, “Generation G” due to their affinity for playing games featured online or on various platforms. This new generation is affecting culture and society — and its influence is making it’s way into the classroom. However, now that gamification strategies are being implemented in the workplace by companies, it’s not so far fetched. One reason that teachers are embracing this new strategy in the classroom is students are getting harder and harder to motivate in the classroom. The book “Blended – Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools” cites a report that declares nearly half of students who drop out of school do so because they are bored. This study illustrates how student motivation is becoming a bigger problem in American schools. It’s not all about what’s bright and shiny though. Many teachers see benefits from gamification strategies in developing student focus, creativity, effort, and resilience in the classroom. With these reasons and more, teachers are taking a closer look at employing gamification strategies in the classroom.

Myths About Gamification

Perhaps adults and educators fear what they do not understand, however many misconceptions still remain about implementing gamification strategies in the classroom. In his book, “Explore like a Pirate,” Michael Matera discusses several myths that people believe about gamification. For instance, some critics assert that gamification does not allow for adequate rigor and relevance for students. Matera argues that the creativity, flexibility, and open-ended aspect of gamification strategies allows students to more readily think “outside the box” and thus create deeper learning experiences. Matera goes on to state that any teacher can implement gamification strategies in their classrooms regardless of personal gaming experience, curricular area that is taught, or lack of technology resources. Whether you are for or against gamification in the classroom, one thing is for sure — gaming continues to be a common connection point for students with their world.

Gamification: Where to Start?

For those teachers that are sold on implementing gamification strategies in their classrooms, the first question is where to begin. Some teachers may use gamification software like GameCraft or Classcraft to facilitate game mechanics and game thinking into the classroom, however it’s not necessary. Some teachers may choose to focus on implementing strategies like providing students badges for accomplishing academic tasks instead of providing a grade. Other teachers may choose to provide points for the completion of academic tasks that they can cash in for privileges within the classroom. Leaderboards can create a healthy competition or teachers may opt to just allow students the ability to create personal goals and then track them in a fun and visual way. No matter what strategy you choose to implement, if you end up making the classroom a more fun and engaging environment for your students, you will have accomplished one of the reasons that gamification is on the rise in today’s classrooms. Game on!

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5 Steps to Getting an Online Teaching Certificate

Do you have the desire to become a great teacher? If so, getting your teaching certificate will prepare you to shape young minds and have a positive impact on the lives of the students you teach.

Thanks to online teaching certificate programs, you can become certified whenever and wherever it’s most convenient for you without putting your life on hold. The process of getting your teaching certificate online is easy. Here’s a look at the steps needed to get a teaching certificate online.

Obtain Your Undergraduate Degree

Certification and licensing requirements vary by state but generally include holding a Bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited institution. If you have not yet completed your undergraduate degree, check with your state’s department of education to determine whether a Bachelor’s degree or higher is required to earn a valid teaching certificate.

If you still need to complete your undergraduate degree, think about the grade level and/or subject you would like to teach. Specific major requirements can vary from state to state for primary and secondary school teachers, as well as for teachers in subjects such as math, science and English.

Again, check with your state’s department of education to learn about the specific education requirements that must be met to teach in your state.

Research State-Approved Online Teacher Certification Programs

There are many online teacher certification programs, but not all are accredited or approved by your state’s department of education. Approved online teacher certification programs will align with the knowledge and skills deemed necessary for effective teaching in your state.

Earning your teacher certificate from an accredited college or university will also help you take advantage of reciprocity programs if you decide to pursue a teaching job in another state.

Complete Required Teaching Certificate Courses

After you are enrolled in an online teacher certification program, you will need to complete the required coursework before you can call yourself a “certified teacher.” Online teaching certificate programs are designed for people who want to become skilled and professional educators.

Whether you’re looking to make a career change, thinking about becoming a teacher or are an educator looking for career advancement opportunities, the curriculum you’ll encounter in a teaching certificate program will give you the knowledge, skills and abilities needed to excel in teaching.

Below is a sample of the courses you may be expected to complete as part of an online teacher certification program:

  1. Historical and Contemporary Perspectives in Education
  2. Adolescent Psychology
  3. Diagnostic Assessment and Progress Monitoring
  4. Teaching in Inclusive Adolescent Environments
  5. Literacy and Learning Across the Curriculum
  6. Theory & Practice in Secondary Education

Some programs may offer additional courses for students interested in receiving certification and a Master’s degree.

Perform Student-Teaching Field Mentorships

Individuals seeking teaching certification are generally required to complete documented field experiences in the classrooms of certified teachers. You may be required to secure placement with a certified teacher in your desired content area (language, mathematics, social studies, history, special education, etc.) or you may be assigned a field mentorship depending on the nature of the certification program you are enrolled in.

Get Your Teaching Certificate

After passing the required classes and completing your field mentorship and/or student-teaching experience you will receive certification and can seek employment as a certified, state-approved teacher.

If you are interested in getting your teaching certificate online, discover the Online Accelerated Teacher Certification (OATCERT) program from Saint Joseph’s University. The 30-credit-hour OATCERT program can be completed in just four online semesters.

Request more information or call 866-758-7670 to speak with an admissions representative today.