Early Childhood Teacher Certification in Alabama
The State of Early Childhood Education in Alabama
The beautiful southern state of Alabama is rich in history as well as outdoor activities. The southern hospitality here makes newcomers feel warm and welcome, Huntsville’s space technology reminds us which century it is, and the gorgeous white sand beaches offer relaxation and fun.
According to the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), Alabama has offered a state-funded pre-kindergarten (pre-K) program since the year 2000, with the sole eligibility requirements that children be four-year-old residents. Surprisingly, in spite of the availability of this resource, several factors kept enrollment in the program low until the 2009-2010 school year, when businesses here became involved in supporting early education, and improvements made the program easier to bring to local schools. The 2011-2012 school year saw the first increase in access in several years. The state’s goal is to have one pre-K class in each county; as of 2013, classrooms are available in 94 percent of counties.
How to Become an Early Childhood Educator in Alabama
What does it take to become an early childhood educator in Alabama? The best avenue to becoming certified is through an accredited program in one of Alabama’s colleges or universities. These programs are very effective in taking future educators from student to professional. An early childhood certificate holder can teach preschool through third grade. The coursework includes lab experiences in local schools and classes in teacher education, culminating in a full-time internship in a local school.
Where to Obtain an Early Childhood Education Degree
There are a few early childhood education degree programs in Alabama.
located about 5 miles from downtown Huntsville, collaborates with business and government organizations to maintain a laboratory to put theory into practice. Students who have obtained their official certifications here have the option of staying on to pursue a Master’s degree in early childhood education.
exposes students to field-based experiences to accompany their study of early childhood pedagogy. Students also have the option of taking just two extra courses in order to graduate with a second degree in elementary education in addition to early childhood education.
offers an early childhood education major containing three components: general education, a teaching field specialization and professional studies. The program includes course work, experience in classroom observation and student teaching.
Teacher Certification in Alabama
After receiving a degree, intending teachers have one more hurdle to cross in the form of two tests. The first test, the Alabama Prospective Teacher Testing Program (APTTP), ensures a basic level of skill in reading and math. The other test is the Praxis II for certification in early childhood education. This certification is valid for five years, after which the certificate must be renewed. The requirements for renewal are concerned mostly with teaching and continuing education.
For applicants from outside the state, there are alternative ways to obtain Alabama teaching certification. Applicants may present a professional or Level 2 license. In the event an applicant does not have that license, there are still other ways to proceed.
Teaching applicants who have a non-teaching degree can take advantage of Alabama’s Baccalaureate-Level Certificate, which permits the holder to begin teaching before they actually complete an education program. This certificate is valid for one year and can be renewed up to three times. This period is intended to allow the holder to take the required education courses to obtain a Level 1 certificate and take the APTTP and Praxis exams.
Having passed the tests, one requirement remains: a background check, which is conducted by both the Alabama Bureau of Investigation and the FBI. The prospective teacher must submit two fingerprint cards, a release form, a Background Review Consent Form and payment of the fee for the background check. Once the applicant’s check comes back clean and all requirements are satisfied, the final stage in the journey begins: finding a position to realize the dream of working with young children.
Where to Find a Job in Early Childhood Education
A degree in early childhood education enables teachers to work in public schools with children in grades K through three. The Alabama Department of Education provides a directory of all schools in Alabama, listing telephone numbers, addresses and other information that applicants will find helpful.
Aside from public schools, other organizations offer careers in the field, as well. For example, The Learning Care Group is an organization which operates many different child care centers. These include: Childtime, Tutor Time, The Children’s Courtyard, Montessori Unlimited, and La Petite Academy. Tutor Time, located in Birmingham, offers a variety of early childhood positions including lead teachers, assistant directors, directors and associates.
Professional Organizations for Teachers in Alabama
The Alabama teacher’s union is the Alabama Education Association (AEA), which provides a means for education professionals statewide to make their views and concerns known and to work together to improve education in Alabama. The AEA provides legal assistance, professional development opportunities and member benefits, and advocates for education in the Alabama Legislature.
The Alabama Parents and Teachers Association (PTA) is a statewide organization founded in 1911 with the primary objective of seeking good education outcomes through parent involvement in the education process. Families and school staff work together through the PTA to support students’ learning and development at school and at home.
The Association of American Educators, founded in 1994, is a non-union organization providing members with services such as liability insurance, professional development and scholarships. AAE has members and chapters in a number of states.
Alabama Early Childhood Teacher Blogs
Mrs. Lee’s Kindergarten is a blog maintained by a teacher at Big Spring Lake Kindergarten School. She has been a teacher there for five years, and expresses her commitment to children in her posts, along with many activities for young children and stories about her experiences while teaching.
The Oceans of First Grade Fun blog is maintained by a first-grade teacher with 20 years’ experience. She shares weekly updates about her work with the aim of providing useful information and inspiration through her stories about experiences in the classroom.
The blog Mrs. Kimbrell’s Kindergarten Kids shares with readers some of the activities of a kindergarten class. The blog also includes links to other sites, reading practice for children and a selection of graphics and photos.