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Alternative Educational Certification for Oklahoma Public School Teachers

Public education is suffering a crisis across the United States due to several causes including a critical teacher shortage. The state of Oklahoma saw a 38% increase in teachers retiring over the summer when comparing 2021 against 2020, according to TulsaWorld.

Oklahoma State Representative and Tulsa local John Waldron, a former high school government teacher, highlighted factors contributing to the teacher shortage. "We have seen a record number of retirements. We are facing a chronic shortage of applicants for teaching positions," he said.

It is important to remedy the shortage because public school teachers are a vital resource when it comes to supporting future generations. This corps of educators has been stretched thin of late, with the COVID-19 pandemic worsening matters by disrupting student learning.

Given the demand for educators and pandemic-induced stresses in the past few years, legislators are looking to prevent further progress loss for students.

Opening the Doors

In states like Oklahoma, government officials are seeking options to incentivize individuals to become public educators. The urgent push to ensure enough teachers for classrooms will require school districts to recruit beyond the population of candidates with education degrees, and Waldron has been an outspoken advocate. "The teacher pipeline is one of the critical issues we can address in the 2022 legislative session," he said, noting that more and more teachers are being certified on an emergency basis.

To enable candidates without education degrees to prepare for teaching, there are a number of alternative methods of certification, including those for teaching assistants, members of the U.S. military and the Alternative Placement Program, which offers opportunities to teach in accredited Oklahoma schools.

A fast track to becoming a teacher is the online Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction (C&I) – General program from Southeastern Oklahoma State University. With fully online, asynchronous coursework, the program prepares students for the certification exams and helps students deepen their understanding of curriculum development, behavioral management and pedagogy while they work full time.

Potential students must determine eligibility for alternative certification through the Oklahoma State Department of Education, along with other admission requirements that will allow them to enroll in the M.Ed. program. Generalist emphasis area coursework in the M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction prepares graduates to successfully lead a classroom. 

Necessary Classroom Tools

Successful teaching starts with the development and execution of engaging curricula that can connect with students from all backgrounds at varying levels. Planning coursework is key to every teacher's success, as each year leads to assessment, which can often show a new way forward. With skills gained from Southeastern's online degree program, educators can design engaging lessons for diverse groups of students while maintaining optimal classroom effectiveness and impact on students. 

When carrying out these educational plans, instructors must understand how to moderate a group of young people while focusing on a singular objective. Otherwise, the strategy will not be successful no matter how good it looks on paper. As the thought leaders in behavior management note, engagement is paramount.

"Monotonous classes are sure to bring out the worst in your students. To get rid of bad behavior, make your class activities as exciting and stimulating as possible," Positive Action's website suggests. "Structure your activities to engage and involve your learners throughout the lesson. Strive to allow your students to uncover knowledge with practical activities."

For anyone who has considered making a transition to education, now is the time to see if alternative certification might be the right fit. As leaders statewide look to attract fresh talent to schools in need of enthusiastic educators, there will be various benefits for those who answer the call. 

Learn more about Southeastern Oklahoma State University's Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction – General online program

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