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Mastering Continuing Education Requirements – Is It Possible?

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When you talk to teachers about continuing education requirements the response is usually a collective groan. While requirements vary from state to state, the burden to obtain continuing education hours is usually placed on the shoulders of teachers. In most other professions, there is not only reimbursement for such requirements, but paid time off or overtime for attending classes. Figuring out how to manage graduate classes while working a full-time teaching job is just one of the many challenges that today’s educators face.

Online Classes

With the dawn on online classes came an almost welcome sigh of relief from many teachers. Surely, now, continuing education requirements could be met. Unfortunately, many colleges and universities choose not to offer all of their master’s programs online. Specialty area certifications, such as reading intervention or special education, are often only offered at the schools themselves. For those lucky enough to find an online program, the challenge then becomes making sure that the state’s education department will accept the credits from the online school.

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Online classes do offer a great deal of flexibility. You can usually complete coursework at your own pace throughout the week and submit it for approval. The cost for such classes used to be much less than classes held at a university, but tuition has increased for many online courses. If you are considering an online class, check not only with your state to make sure that the classes will count toward your continuing education requirements, but also check with your school district to make sure that they will count as professional development.

Intermediate Units

Not all intermediate units offer continuing education classes for the teachers in their district, but many do. High-quality instruction and continuing education credits can be earned through their classes. The drawback is that many of the classes fill up quickly and most do not count toward Master’s degree credit. This becomes an issue if your state requires you to obtain a Master’s degree within a certain time period after you have been teaching in a public school. Your professional development requirements may be met, but unless you enroll in an intermediate unit’s partner program with a university, the credits will not transfer toward a degree.

Is There a Solution?

Teacher accountability is at the forefront of discussion when it comes to education reform, but there seems to be little discussion about the feasibility of the continuing education requirements placed on teachers. Most Really Good Stuff teachers admit that they not only have a Master’s degree, but they have credits above and beyond. When teachers are expected to pay for supplies for the classroom, and then risk losing their credentials if they do not obtain graduate credits (that they must pay for themselves!), what is the incentive to stay in the field of education? Is it any wonder that so many great teachers leave teaching?

While continuing education requirements are not the only reason that teachers become frustrated with their jobs, it is certainly one of them. How do you deal with continuing education requirements to maintain your teaching credentials? Share with us! We want to hear from you.

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Our county offered a Master's program from a state university in county 13 years ago. They brought the professors in and had most classes on site. I took it. What a blessing! I was pregnant and only missed two weeks of classes. I believe we attended one evening and every Saturday for 18 months. Many of those who were involved have gone on to leadership roles in the county so I'm sure the county believes it was money well spent. Now, in order to help teachers recertify, our county offers loads of classes. I even take online classes. Thankfully, I have a helpful, caring spouse! I do my homework when the kids do theirs. It's about lifelong learning. It's an example I want to set for my students and my own children.I don't see it as a burden.