Are Online Teacher Certifications Honored in All States?

Reciprocity agreements make it easy for teachers to convert their certificate to an analogous

teaching certificate in another state. In other words, thanks to regional and national reciprocity

agreements, an online teacher certification may open the door to teaching opportunities

nationwide.

A few things to keep in mind about teacher certification reciprocity:

● Reciprocity is not automatic and will require you to contact the department of education

in the state you wish to teach to determine what criteria is required to complete the.

transfer

● Reciprocity is not a guarantee that all certificates will be accepted by a receiving state,

so wait until you receive confirmation of certificate transfer before making plans to move

● Reciprocity is not always a full license or certificate transfer, which means educators

may need to complete additional requirements such as coursework or assessments

before receiving a full professional certificate by the receiving state

NASDTEC Interstate Agreement

One of the largest reciprocity agreements in the country is the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement,

a collection of over 50 individual agreements by states and Canadian provinces. Each individual

agreement that makes up the larger NASDTEC Interstate Agreement outlines which states will

accept which educator certificates from other states.

The minimum components of an “approved educator preparation program” under the NASDTEC

Interstate Agreement are the completion of a Bachelor’s degree, supervised clinical practice and

a planned program of study.

The Interstate Agreement also defines teacher licensure in “stages” to help create a common

language for member states and jurisdictions regarding reciprocity requirements.

Stages of teacher licensure under the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement are described below:

● Stage 1 Teacher License – License issued to an individual who holds a minimum of a.

Bachelor’s degree, has met approved teacher preparation program admission

requirements but has not met specific requirements of the issuing state or jurisdiction.

● Stage 2 Teacher License – License issued to an individual who holds a minimum of a.

Bachelor’s degree, has completed an approved teacher preparation program, but has

not met specific requirements of the issuing state or jurisdiction.

● Stage 3 Teacher License – License issued to an individual who holds a minimum of a.

Bachelor’s degree, has completed an approved teacher preparation program, and has

met all specific requirements of the issuing state or jurisdiction.

● Stage 4 Teacher License – License issued to an individual who holds a minimum of a.

Master’s degree, has completed an approved teacher preparation program, and has met

or exceeded all specific requirements of the issuing state or jurisdiction.

Regional Reciprocity Agreements

In addition to the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement, there are also several smaller regional

reciprocity agreements between neighboring states to address teacher mobility and interstate

licensing requirements.

The Northeast Common Market, for example, is comprised of eight states in the northeastern

U.S. — Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, New York, Rhode

Island and Vermont — that allows teachers with an initial license in one state to teach in another

state for up to two years before meeting the latter state’s licensing requirements.

Another formal regional reciprocity agreement is the Midwest Regional Exchange, which

includes Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota and

Wisconsin.

Learn More About Teaching Certificate Reciprocity

Refer to this page on teaching certificate state reciprocity requirements to find the transfer

policies for the state(s) you wish to teach in. If you have not earned state certification, the Online

Accelerated Teacher Certification (OATCERT) program from Saint Joseph’s University will help

you achieve your Pennsylvania Level 1 Secondary Instructional and Educational Specialist

Certification that can be converted to another state’s teaching license if you plan to move in the future.

Request more information on the OATCERT program or call 866-758-7670 to learn more.

10 Benefits of Teaching Special Education

Thinking about becoming a special education teacher?

Wondering if it’s the right career choice for you?

While teaching special education definitely comes with some unique challenges, the truth is that there are a lot of big benefits to the career as well. Few people realize how rewarding becoming a special ed teacher can be and just how much it can positively influence your life.

Luckily, this article is here to help. Below we’ll give you an overview of the top benefits of teaching special education and tell you why it may be the right career choice for you.

1. You’ll Have a Specialized Skill

One of the benefits of becoming a special education teacher is that it will require you to have a more advanced education and specialized knowledge that other teachers don’t have. You’ll have to be licensed to teach special education and this extra education can help you stand out in the job market.

More job opportunities will become available to you and you’ll have a much better resume that you can use when it comes time to look for new positions. As a result of becoming certified and teaching special ed, you’ll become a much more marketable teacher.

Even if you move on from teaching special ed later on in life, your experiences as a special ed teacher will shape your skills and continue to influence your career in big ways.

2. Special Ed Teachers Are in High Demand

If you want to gain a high amount of job security, becoming a special ed teacher is one of the best ways you can do it. Special education teachers are harder to come by than the average teacher and because of that, you’ll be in high demand.

When it comes time for a job search, whether you’re moving across the country or looking for a job close to home, you’ll often find that it goes very smoothly and is over quickly. There are also plenty of jobs that you can do outside of the classroom as well.

3. Work Days Will Be Shorter

One extra perk of working in special education is that, in many cases, your workday will be much shorter. Special education school days are typically a bit shorter in length than average. Along with that, there is also plenty of flexibility in how you can arrange class schedules and the course curriculum.

While the work can be hard, having a little bit less time at school can be a great perk that can give you the rest and relaxation you need after a hard day of teaching.

4. You’ll Develop Great Relationships With Students

When you work as a special ed teacher, few things can compare to the close relationships you’ll form with your students. You wouldn’t always get the same opportunity to form deep relationships with other types of students like you can as a special education teacher.

Your students’ relationships with you will be a big part of what matters as a special education teacher. You’ll find yourself caring for your children deeply and celebrating their successes as your time with them goes on and as you get more chances to further their education.

5. There’s a Better Adult-to-Child Ratio

While it’s not always the case, when teaching special education there is often a much better ratio of teachers to students. For many teachers, this is a big plus since managing a big classroom full of students can be difficult.

While teaching special ed comes with its challenges, having a smaller focus on a limited number of students can be a better alternative to dealing with a large classroom full of students. While only a few special education students can often be just as difficult to deal with, in other moments it can be a much simpler experience.

6. There Will Be More Individualized Education

You’ll also find that it’s a necessity to give each student plenty of individualized attention when you teach special education. Each child will be different and will have different capabilities. You’ll also be working with students at various grade levels.

Big classrooms make it hard to spend one-on-one time with each student and instead teachers usually have to adopt a one size fits all approach out of necessity.

If you would rather focus on giving your all to a few individual students, then special education will give you that opportunity. No matter what your special education specialization is, you’re likely to have a lot of time to focus on each student along with their specific needs and challenges.

7. You’ll Get to Teach the Students Who Need It Most

By becoming a special education teacher, you’ll get a chance to reach the students who are most in need of help. While all students can benefit from strong educational support, children who are in special education need it even more.

By becoming one of their teachers, you’ll be able to know that you’re making a big difference in their lives. You’ll be educating and caring for the children who need your love and support most of all and will develop stronger teaching skills and capabilities as a result.

8. You’ll Go Beyond the Classroom

When you become a special education teacher, you’ll usually be a lot more than that. You’ll also become their advocate and will have to communicate with other people in the students’ lives.

You’ll often be communicating with parents as well as health professionals and other educators to care for the student. You’ll team up with these people to ensure that a student is not only getting a great education but that their other needs are being met as well.

As a special education teacher, you’ll be influencing many areas of a child’s life and impacting them in ways that extend beyond the classroom.

9. You’ll Be Able to See The Impact Firsthand

By teaching special education students you’ll also be able to see the impact you have on students firsthand. Oftentimes, you’ll spend several years with a student. You may even teach them for the entire time they spend at your school.

When you’re not a special education teacher, this usually isn’t the case. You won’t spend the same amount of time with a typical student who has a different teacher as they move from grade to grade.

On the other hand, working as a special ed teacher will often give you a better chance to see your students grow and learn over the course of time. It also allows you to see the full impact of the work you’ve done to get them to where they are.

10. It’s a Rewarding Experience

Few things can be as rewarding as working with special needs students. You’ll know that you’ll be making a difference in the life of some great kids who need it more than most.

You’ll be able to rest assured knowing that at the end of the day you’ve made good use of your time as a teacher. You’ll see that you have been able to impact others in a positive way.

The truth is that the relationships you form with students are everything and knowing that you impacted their lives and their families’ lives in a positive way is a great feeling.

Ready to Start Teaching Special Education?

Teaching special education can be very challenging. However, teachers who have never done it don’t realize just how rewarding it can be as well. If you’re trying to make the decision of whether you should teach special ed, then consider the above points carefully. Your decision may become a lot easier.

Looking for more teaching and career resources? Check out our resources section now for more great tips and insights.

Disability Awareness and Bullying prevention

There’s a reason education professionals strive for as much inclusion as possible for kids with disabilities. Being in a diverse environment is an educational experience for kids of all ages. It lets them learn about people who are different from them and find ways to get along.

At the same time, an inclusive environment will always come with some hurdles. As sad as it is, we tend to see bullying issues any time there’s a large group of kids. It happens even more when we bring kids with disabilities into the mix, though.

How do you face these issues head-on? It’s important to have a frank discussion with all kids about bullying prevention. It might be a challenging subject, but these tips will help.

How to Talk to Kids with Disabilities About Bullying Prevention

As a special education professional, you may be dealing with bullying prevention on a regular basis. Here are some tips to keep in mind while you discuss bullying with your students.

Explain Both Sides of the Coin

Many people assume that kids with disabilities are the ones who get bullied and that neurotypical kids are the bullies. While this does tend to be the most common scenario, it’s not always the case.

While you want to talk to your students about what to do if they’re getting bullied, don’t neglect to talk about why bullying is wrong. It’s just as important to make sure they know not to be bullies as it is to help protect them from becoming victims.

Explain That It Isn’t Their Fault if They Get Bullied

One of the most common problems facing kids who are bullied is the assumption that they’ve brought it on themselves. Too many adults say things like, “If you didn’t act so weird, they wouldn’t bully you.”

The #1 cause of bullying is bullies, plain and simple. You don’t want kids to think that if they want to be themselves, it gives others the permission to abuse them.

Make sure your students know that if they get bullied, it isn’t their fault and they don’t need to change who they are.

Talk About What Constitutes Bullying

Another common problem with bullying is that kids don’t actually know that they’re bullying someone. They might think they’re picking on a friend in a playful way but they’ve crossed the line into bullying.

Make it clear that it isn’t okay to pick on other kids, regardless of what the intentions are. While bullying is defined by a pattern of behavior, it’s a slippery slope from the occasional mean-spirited “prank.”

It’s also important to explain that bullying doesn’t need to be a physical action. Words alone can be a form of bullying that is more traumatic to kids than physical abuse.

Tell Them What to Do if They See or Experience Bullying

When your students have a clear understanding of what bullying is, it’s important to give them actionable instructions, too. Tell them what to do if they see bullying or experience it themselves.

Make sure kids know that it’s important to report bullying if they see it happening to someone else. If they don’t, they’re hurting the victim by allowing the abuse to continue.

Don’t Wait Until Something Happens

Too many parents and education professionals put off “the bullying talk” too long. They tend to think they have more time before their kids have to worry about it.

If you wait until something happens, you’ll guarantee that your students will have at least one situation when they don’t know what to do. The key is to educate kids about bullying before they can form bad habits or get into a situation when they may react in violence.

How to Talk to Neurotypical Kids About Disability Awareness and Bullying Prevention

In some schools, you’ll only spend time with kids with disabilities. In other cases, though, schools may recognize that you’re a resource for bullying prevention with neurotypical kids as well.

If you’re in a position to discuss bullying with neurotypical kids, here are some tips to help.

Educate Them About Kids with Disabilities

One of the largest reasons neurotypical kids bully kids with disabilities is a lack of understanding. They don’t recognize what their disability is or that it may be the reason they seem “weird.”

Education alone will go a long way toward creating a cooperative and safe environment. Talk to neurotypical students about various disabilities their peers might have, from autism spectrum disorders and Down syndrome to physical impairments.

Define Bullying

As with your students with disabilities, many neurotypical kids who are bullies don’t realize they’re bullying. To them, it might seem like good fun while it creates fear and anxiety for the victim.

Discuss examples of bullying with the kids and answer any questions they have about it. Explain to them that if they’re questioning whether something is okay, it’s probably not okay.

Talk About the Impacts Bullying Can Have

This is a touchy subject. Some parents and educators think suicide is too heavy of a subject for their students.

The reality is that it’s something they deal with at an early age. The youngest documented suicide victim is a 6-year-old girl. Kids as young as 8 and 9 have committed suicide that we know to be the direct result of bullying.

As unpleasant as it is, kids need to understand the real risks of bullying. You don’t need to get graphic, but you need to explain to them that it can have serious consequences.

In addition to suicide, it’s important to explain the other potential effects of bullying. Discuss the results of low self-esteem, higher risks for drug use, poor academic performance, and more.

Explain What to Do if They See or Experience Bullying

As with your special education students, you need to give neurotypical kids actionable instructions. Explaining what bullying is and why it’s bad won’t help much if they don’t know what to do if they see it happening.

Tackling Bullying Prevention Before It’s a Problem

Total bullying prevention isn’t practical. Still, there are plenty of ways you can cut down on bullying in your school and the tips above can help.

For more advice that will help you with your special education career, check out our online resources.

What Degrees in Secondary Education Are Available?

If you’ve ever wanted a career where you can directly impact the mental, emotional and educational growth of future generations, a career in secondary education may be the perfect fit.

The first step to becoming a secondary school educator is to continue your education and obtain an advanced degree. Here’s what to know about varying degrees, what to expect to learn at each degree level, and what you are qualified for with each degree.

Associate’s Degree in Secondary Education

An associate’s degree in secondary education provides a base for future education opportunities and can open the door to non-teaching roles in secondary education. Students who have a high school diploma or GED may apply for an associate’s degree in secondary education program.

A full-time enrollment in an associate’s degree program, at a school such as a community college, means a degree can be completed in one to two years depending on class load and schedule.

An associate’s degree serves as the building block for a bachelor’s degree since the approximately 60 credit hours earned during an associate’s degree program are often directly transferable to the bachelor’s degree school.

Usually, the associate’s degree completes the first two years of a traditional four-year bachelor’s degree program. During the study period for an associate’s degree, you will learn general education topics in addition to secondary education topics. These general education classes may include:

  • Math
  • Social science
  • English
  • Science
  • Humanities
  • Fine Arts

You may also take additional courses related to various teaching specializations. An associate’s degree in secondary education may qualify you for a secondary education position such as a tutor or a teacher’s aide.

Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary Education

A bachelor’s degree in secondary education is the lowest level required to become a secondary school teacher. If you have an associate’s degree in secondary education, your time frame for completing a bachelor’s degree in secondary education may be limited to two years if your credits apply and transfer.

To gain acceptance into a bachelor’s degree in secondary education program at a college or university, there are more requirements beyond being admitted to that college. Typically, students must also pass the Praxis CORE Academic Skills for Educators exam, or an equivalent state exam, which includes testing on reading, writing and math. Other requirements to a bachelor’s degree in secondary education program may include:

  • Letters of reference
  • Prerequisite GPA
  • Specific course completion
  • Clear background check

Once accepted, you’ll take up to 120 credit hours of courses covering classroom management, adolescent development or psychology, and secondary teaching methods. These will be in addition to general education courses, as well as courses related to the subject you plan on specializing in.

A semester of student teaching is also a requirement for the bachelor’s degree in secondary education. To successfully gain access to a job in the classroom as a secondary school teacher, in addition to a completed bachelor’s degree, obtaining a teaching certificate or credential is required.

Master’s Degree in Secondary Education

A master’s degree in secondary education is for students who want a competitive edge over other secondary school teacher applicants, or for those who aspire to have career options in secondary education beyond the classroom.

Teachers with master’s degrees typically earn more than those with lesser educations, they’re more able to apply for and gain positions at institutions of their choice, and have increased odds of upward mobility in their careers.

Obtaining a master’s degree in secondary education does not require that you have a teaching background, although that can be very helpful when competing against applicants in a specific program.

At a minimum, a master’s degree in secondary education applicant must hold a bachelor’s degree and a GRE score within the past three to five years. Some programs may also require:

  • A valid teaching license or credential
  • Passing scores on basic and specialized PRAXIS exams
  • Clear background check
  • Professional experience in the subject you wish to teach

Students who are enrolled in full-time master’s degree in secondary education programs can typically complete the program within two years to three years. To obtain teaching certification, 190 cumulative hours of approved and documented field experiences in classrooms of certified teachers must be completed before student teaching.

For those who pursue their master’s degree in secondary education, they can expect lifetime earnings to greatly increase versus those who have only bachelor’s degrees. It’s promising for career and financial security, the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the job outlook through 2026 for high school teachers is growing at 8 percent, with more than 1 million jobs available in 2016. The median annual salary for high school teachers was $59,170 in May 2017, but employees with master’s degrees and higher have the potential to earn much more or even enter other career paths, such as those in secondary education administration.

Beyond better pay, a master’s degree in secondary education allows for more career opportunities beyond secondary schools. Roles you may qualify for with a master’s in secondary education include:

  • Curriculum developers for schools or textbooks
  • Corporate trainers and developers
  • Teachers in college
  • Tutors
  • Content writers
  • Education consultants
  • Principals and educational leaders
  • Educational policy developers
  • Media and technology specialists
  • Child care directors
  • Coach or personal development consultants

If you have a love for teaching or helping others learn, obtaining a master’s degree in secondary education can open limitless career potential for you. It gives you a better chance to teach the subject you want at the school you want, and it allows you to advance at your institution or work beyond it so you achieve the career growth you desire.

To learn more about the online Master of Science in Secondary Education and Accelerated Teaching Certification program from Saint Joseph’s University and what it can do for your career, call (866) 758-7670 or request more information.

PBL: Making it Work For All Kids

PBL is Not a PBJ

Project-based learning (PBL) is anything but your standard way of instructing students. Students work on a project that focuses on solving an authentic real-world problem or question. Projects are usually multi-disciplinary and they allow the student to demonstrate their knowledge and skills gained from the project by publicly sharing a presentation or product for a real audience that could be their classmates, their school, or even post it online to share with the entire world. As you can see, this is a pretty exciting concept for both students and adults alike, however some students may struggle with making PBL work for them. The benefits are apparent, but there are some things you should know about in order to make it successful for all students.

Scaffold PBL

The definition of the word scaffold as a verb is to provide support. Without the proper support students will flounder with many aspects of PBL like staying focused for an extended amount of time on one project, identifying a question that they want to answer, and deciding who they are going to share their project with. In order to combat these potential problems, teachers should gradually release control of PBL to their students. First, teachers can do a PBL project as an entire class. They can walk students through the entire process and complete it together. Conducting this first step can take a lot of fear and uncertainty about PBL out from the beginning, but without giving students control over their learning, it’s not quite PBL just yet. Next, the teacher might assign groups of students to work through a question that the teacher comes up with. The teacher can allow for variation in how the group chooses to present their findings, but again full control over the project is not given. After each student has a class-wide and small group PBL experience under their belt, they are ready to try a project independently. At this stage teachers should still limit some sort of control, so it may be wise to either choose the topic for the student or to choose how they must demonstrate their understanding. After the 3rd scaffolded PBL experience, students will hopefully be able to fully guide themselves and the teacher can sit back and watch the magic happen.

Provide Voice & Choice

Allowing students to choose their topic and decide how to demonstrate their understanding is a critical component of PBL. However, giving students voice and choice in their projects can be a hard thing for teachers to do. They will be tempted to assign topics or questions for students to study. They may also want to tell their students to demonstrate their understanding in a particular way, however this limits the knowledge and experience that makes this type of learning meaningful for students. Teachers should allow students to make choices and demonstrate their creativity whenever possible. Once students are comfortable with the PBL process, teachers should empower their students by giving them control over their own learning. This control will stimulate engagement with their projects and will help PBL reach all students

Provide Reflection Opportunities

Providing feedback to students on their PBL experience is a crucial part in keeping students coming back for more. Students should give, receive, and use feedback especially from their peers to improve they’re understanding of PBL and the quality of the projects/products that they create. Students and teachers should always reflect on their learning and how effective their project management skills were during the PBL project. They should also reflect on their overall question and if their presentation was effective for the intended audience. Because the types of feedback that students can receive are endless, making sure that students receive good feedback will ensure that PBL is never viewed as a completed process by students. This will help students understand that PBL is an effective way to learn about any topic they have interest in and that this process can be used in any setting, even outside of school.

PBL Benefits Students

PBL is a great tool to help students develop deep content knowledge as well as 21st Century learning skills like critical thinking, creativity, and communication. However, all these benefits won’t occur if it’s not implemented effectively. Teachers should scaffold their support, ensure that students can employ voice and choice with their projects, and they should structure in plenty of time for feedback to ensure PBL success in the classroom. If teachers can do these things, PBL can serve as a catalyst for creating a group of students who are anxious to continue their learning no matter who they’re with or where they are.

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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.

For more interesting articles like this, click here!

3 Reasons Why Schools Should Adopt Restorative Justice Practices

Restorative Justice, What’s That?

Restorative Justice is a topic that continues to gain national attention as both elementary and secondary schools decide how to best deal with student behavioral and discipline issues that occur in today’s schools. The topic focuses on a mindset that aims to help students make restorations to address misconduct instead of resorting to punishing them. It also focuses on teaching and supporting students instead of pushing them away. Interestingly enough, restorative justice is not a mindset supported by all education stakeholders. In fact, some teachers who feel that restorative justice avoids providing discipline to students, remain opposed to this new movement.

Addressing the Problem

School administrators start their days with ambitions of visiting classrooms, completing paperwork, conducting meetings, and communicating with stakeholders. However the stark reality is that many school administrators are bombarded with school discipline issues before they even make it through the office door. They are then often forced to spend time making judgements about whether a student should be suspended or not. This can sometimes be a lengthy process, especially if a school administrator spends 30 minutes on an average office discipline referral. To complicate this process, they may learn that the offending student may currently be exposed to abuse, shows signs of depression, and has had to deal with lack of food or even homelessness earlier in the year. While the student is waiting for the school administrator to determine their fate, they are missing out on key instruction that they so desperately need and the school administrator is kept from accomplishing their own tasks. All of these issues combined paint a picture about school discipline that is not exactly black and white —- which is exactly why Restorative Justice is a better minds

#1. Restorative Justice Improves School Culture

Not only does Restorative Justice address the root of problematic behavior in schools but it also can improve a school’s culture. The opposite of a Restorative Justice program would be one that focuses on “zero tolerance.” A zero tolerance environment focuses on strict rules and even stricter punishments. When school environments are focused on these things, school discipline is largely ineffective. Relationships between students and school staff are often damaged and listening to one another is deemphasized. Because student motivation is a real concern by many educators in today’s schools, making sure that relationships are in good repair between staff and students becomes an essential indicator for school leaders to be concerned about. Students can feel whether their school environment and culture is supportive or not and that’s important because a student’s attitude about their school can impact their academic performance. This is exactly why the method of school-wide discipline must be taken seriously by education stakeholders.

#2. Restorative Justice Builds Healthy Relationships

Restorative Justice builds healthy relationships through a staple practice of conducting community focused circles where students can discuss personal struggles as well as issues that have occurred at school that need attention. This “talk-it-out” strategy focuses on helping students express their feelings and their emotions in a healthy way—something that should always be emphasized by teachers, counselors, and school administrators. School staff can guide these conversations by asking questions and helping students process negative events. It is here where students discover ways to solve problems in a healthy way and take responsibility for their actions. These skills will improve student-to-student relationships as well as student-to-teacher relationships which will ultimately positively impact student achievement.

#3. Restorative Justice Develops Understanding

Restorative justice helps school staff members to focus on understanding students first, which goes a long ways in building trust with the student body. As students develop these listening skills and strengthen their emotional intelligence, they are improving their future employability and the likelihood that they can successfully navigate a career and be a productive member of society. All students have extremely varied experiences at home, in their neighborhood, and at school. Their behavior in these environments is shaped by these experiences. When school staff focuses on gaining insight into each student by listening to their experiences, then stronger relationships are formed and the school staff can focus on addressing the root of the problem—not the negative behavior that ends up manifesting itself at school.

Conclusion: Restorative Justice Gets it Right

Although critics of Restorative Justice make claims that students avoid accountability for their actions in this type of environment, more students are kept in the right environment when Restorative Justice practices are utilized. Restorative Justice does not mean that students who break school rules and compromise the safety of others will not be disciplined, but it does mean that school discipline will not be viewed as a solution to the misbehavior. An educator’s job is not to avoid the problems that students come to school with, but to help fix them. Restorative Justice’s emphasis on teaching students to effectively deal with their problems by improving their listening skills and writing their wrongs continues to build within students a healthy set of skills that will aid them in school and in the future.

See how Restorative Justice also approaches Social Practice, here.

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
 to:

  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 
members

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.