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What is Early Childhood Education?

Becoming a teacher is not just a profession but for many, it is a calling. The opportunity to be a preschool teacher is especially important because numerous studies are now showing that students who enter these preschool programs are positively impacted throughout their entire school years. Massachusetts is a state that rewards quality teachers with salaries that are above average. Here we will take a look at how to become a preschool teacher in Massachusetts.

On average, many teacher positions within the state pay as much as $10,000 a year more than elsewhere. Preschool teachers can earn up to over $40,000 a year on the high-end. Massachusetts, like many states throughout the country, is recognizing the tremendous impact that preschool has on setting children up for succeeding throughout their school years. Because of this, the position of preschool teacher has strong projections for growth from now over the next decade.

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Steps to Become an Early Childhood Education Teacher in Massachusetts

Anyone who gets into this profession now will have a career they can count on. Salaries are on the rise and positions are in demand. Anyone who lives in Massachusetts or is interested in moving there, and loves children, should seriously consider this career.

Those who hold a license to practice early childhood education will work with children in Pre-K through the second grade. The Massachusetts Early Childhood Educators Union is working hard to establish legislation that will significantly improve the quality of early childhood education within the state. As part of this effort, they are seeking to recruit and to retain good preschool teachers. That could mean you!

Step 1. Earn Your Degree (Online or On-campus)

Although you might find a few positions outside of the public-school system that allow you to teach with an associate's degree, the state requires anyone who wants to become an actual preschool teacher to have a bachelor's degree. The degree does not need to be related to education, although the state has a preference for those degrees when they hire, and so it may be beneficial to have a degree in that area of study.

Approved education degrees in the state will usually include a teacher preparation program that you will complete as you move through your degree. This allows you to be ready to take your licensure exams as soon as you complete the education degree of your choice. However, if you complete a degree in any other discipline, you will have to go through a state-approved teacher preparation program in early childhood education separately.

There are two ways to go about getting licensed. The first way is the most direct, which would be completing all of the educational requirements as well as satisfying the work experience and the exam requirements set forth by the state. Then you would apply for your initial teaching license. The second option would be to complete your bachelor's degree program along with other examination requirements, after which you would need to get a preliminary license, which would allow you to finish your teacher preparation program and practicum while earning money.

Taking the second option you would then be able to begin leading a classroom while you complete your teacher preparation program. If you have completed a similar program in another state, you would need to submit that information to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to see if it meets the necessary requirements. In most situations, if the program was accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education then it will likely be accepted. If the school where you received your preparation program is part of the NASDTEC Interstate contract, then there is also a good chance that it will be accepted.

Anyone who has attended University abroad will need to go through a separate process and have their credentials evaluated to determine if they meet all of the requirements. Those that need to complete a teacher preparation program focused on young children will need to satisfy the requirements in several subjects. These include: instructional strategies for young children, planning early childhood curriculum, creating positive learning environments for children with and without disabilities, early intervention and education, language development in early childhood, and family systems.

Before any candidate will receive their license as a preschool teacher it will be necessary for them to complete 300 hours of internship. That is, you will need to go through a practicum or student-teaching experience. This is split into 100 hours of teaching pre-kindergarten and kindergarten children, and 200 hours teaching children in grades one and two. Some of this work experience will require working with children who have disabilities as Massachusetts requires that all of their early childhood educators be able to teach a mixed classroom, including children with and without special needs.

As you go through your program you will have a senior teacher and a supervisor who will be evaluating the work you do. They will work together to assess your overall performance as compared to the standards set forth by the state Board of Education for teachers of Pre-K-Grade 2. The state of Massachusetts requires that student-teaching has to take place in a public school within the state, or an approved private school. In some cases, it may also take place in state-approved preschools or others where a state license is required.

Step 2. Pass Your Exams

Just as in other states throughout the country, Massachusetts has a set of required examinations that must be passed with acceptable scores. Unlike many other states in the country, this does NOT mean that you will be taking the PRAXIS exams. Massachusetts has its own exam called the Massachusetts Test for Educator Licensure (MTEL). These are the tests that are required for licensure in the state. Some basic tests may be required by your college that aren’t necessarily needed for licensure. It is up to each school to decide whether or not to assign basic tests for graduation purposes, but every licensed teacher must have passed the MTEL tests.

These skills tests include multiple choice questions along with open response questions. It will take about four hours to complete each one, so be prepared to be there for some time when you go to sit for them. The required tests for early educators include: Early Childhood and Foundations of Reading, with a required score of 240 on each. These tests are only provided at approved testing centers located throughout the state. You can find practice exams and testing center locations at the MTEL website.

Step 3. Apply for your Teachers License

After completing your degree, preparation program, and all of the necessary exams, you are ready to apply for licensure. Even if you already received your Preliminary License, what you’ll apply for now is the Initial Teaching License. You can easily complete the application online or have a physical copy sent to you to complete. When you submit your application, you'll need to include documentation that supports that you are fully qualified.

The application will require a $100 fee that can be paid to the Commonwealth by check, money order, or credit card. If you have credentials from another country or state, you'll need to supply copies. All applicants will need to send sealed official transcripts from any and all colleges and/or universities attended. Additionally, you should make sure to put your social security number on each document that you're including with your application.

The initial license is good for 5 years and you are then expected to have completed additional requirements to upgrade your license to professional.

Step 4. Upgrade Your License

At the end of your first five years of teaching, you will then be expected to upgrade your license to the level of professional. It will be necessary to have completed a number of requirements during those 5 years you had your initial license in order to upgrade it. It will be necessary to have at least 3 years of teaching experience with your initial teaching license and you will need to successfully complete the teacher induction program the first year that you are employed. Additionally, you will need to have 50 documented hours of mentoring.

You will then need to complete at least one other thing: 50 contact hours of seminars through your school district; earn your master's degree in education or in the field you are teaching; if you already have a master's degree, you can take a 12 credit program that includes 9 credits in academic licensing; complete the state performance assessment program; or get certified by the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards.

Once you have successfully been approved for your professional license it will also be good for 5 years. Be aware that the state has requirements that you will need to meet in order to renew that license after the five-year period. To renew your Professional License, you’ll need to complete 150 Professional Development Points (the name in Massachusetts for continuing education credits).

Popular Career Choices:

  • Preschool Teacher
  • Kindergarten Teacher
  • Elementary School Teacher
  • Special Education Teacher

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Top Early Childhood Teacher Preparation Programs in Massachusetts

As with the other New England states, regional accreditation in Massachusetts comes from the New England Commission of Higher Education. If a community college or university has accreditation from this agency, you can expect to receive a quality education. You can also expect your credits to be transferable to other colleges or universities in the region. So, if you want to start your core courses in a community college, first make sure that they are accredited by the NEASC

  • Boston College

    Degrees Offered:

    • School Counseling and Guidance Services; MS.
    • Curriculum and Instruction; MS & Dr.
    • Early Childhood Education and Teaching; MS.
    • Elementary Education and Teaching; BS. & MS.
    • Reading Teacher Education; MS. & Post-grad Certificate
    • Special Education and Teaching; MS. & Post-grad Certificate

    Accreditation By: Regional Accreditation from the NEASC; Programmatic accreditation for the Education Department from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)

  • University of Massachusetts – Amherst

    Degrees Offered:

    • Education, General; BS., MS, & Dr.
    • Multicultural Education; Post-grad Certificate

    Accreditation By: Regional Accreditation from the NEASC; Programmatic accreditation for the Education Department from the National Council of Accreditation for Teacher Education (NCATE)

  • Salem State University

    Degrees Offered:

    • School Counseling and Guidance Services; MS. & Post-grad Certificate
    • Early Childhood Education and Teaching; BS. & MS.
    • Elementary Education and Teaching; BS. & MS.
    • Reading Teacher Education; MS. & Post-grad Certificate
    • Special Education and Teaching; MS. & Post-grad Certificate
    • Teaching English as a Second Language; MS. & Post-grad Certificate

    Accreditation By: Regional Accreditation from the NEASC; Programmatic accreditation for the Education Department from the National Council of Accreditation for Teacher Education (NCATE)

  • University of Massachusetts – Boston

    Degrees Offered:

    • School Counseling and Guidance Services; MS.
    • Early Childhood Education and Teaching; BS.
    • Education, General; MS., Dr., & Post-grad Certificate
    • Education/Teaching of Individuals with Vision Impairments Including Blindness; MS. & Post-grad Certificate
    • Special Education and Teaching; MS. & Post-grad Certificate
    • Urban Education and Leadership; Dr.

    Accreditation By: Regional Accreditation from the NEASC; Programmatic accreditation for the Education Department from the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC)

Potential Careers and Salaries for Graduates

When it comes to choosing which program to enter there are a few considerations that most people will make. One of those considerations will be costs, another will be if the area of study is something the individual feels confident they can successfully complete, and finally, there is the question of convenience. Fortunately, the state of Massachusetts has educational opportunities online to earn your degree and complete you're teaching preparation program.

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These online opportunities include the chance to earn an associate's degree, a bachelor's degree, or a masters. The opportunity to earn a degree in education is offered as an online option at both public and private institutions. Getting a degree online has all the same credentials and validity as earning one by attending campus. Once you graduate and receive your college transcripts there will be nothing on them that will be different from those who attended by going to the campus.

The main thing that you have to make sure of is that the institution you're going to is regionally accredited. It will also be necessary that you enter a student teaching internship which will mean physically going to a location as a teaching intern. You should also make sure that the institution you're going to carries accreditation by the NCATE and the CAEP.

Preschool Teachers in Massachusetts May Have Their School Loans Forgiven

Paying for college is always a serious consideration. The state of Massachusetts has in place a program that can mean that teachers may qualify to have their school loans forgiven. These forgiveness programs are sponsored through local, state, and federal agencies and they may cover part or all of your school loans. To qualify for these, it will usually mean that you have to agree to work for a certain amount of time in areas where the state is struggling to get quality teachers.

Federal subsidies could pay for over $17,000 of student debt and you may also qualify for a Stafford loan which could help as well. It will mean that you are willing to work at least 5 years in certain designated areas that are low income. There are programs that can cancel out any remaining debt after a teacher has made at least a hundred and twenty payments while working at a government agency or non-profit. Most public schools will qualify for this category.

Occupation Entry-Level Mid-Career Late-Career
Pre-school Teacher $24,900 $27,700 $30,500
Elementary School Teacher $40,700 $48,500 $60,000

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