The Upper Valley Educators Institute offers an accredited teacher preparation and certification program, based in actual school classrooms and designed for adult college graduates who have usually had other careers before deciding to become teachers.
UVEI differs from most traditional university programs in teacher education. Since teaching is an art best learned through practice, UVEI reverses the percentage of time normally allotted to academic theory (80%) and classroom practice (20%). With us, it's 80% practice, 20% theory. Each intern spends four days a week, full time, in a classroom under the supervision of a mentor teacher. Interns come to our Institute in Lebanon, NH, one day a week for seminars. Here they learn about teaching, learning, how the brain develops, how to create curriculum that kids really engage in, and how to assess student work, among other skills. UVEI interns also are trained in the latest educational technology, so that they and their students can fully utilize web networking possibilities.
UVEI's two-semester practicum focuses on the mastery of 10 teaching competencies, each to be demonstrated by the intern at the level expected of a beginning teacher. That is how interns graduate from the program and receive certification. No exams or other end-game rituals are required, aside from the Praxis exams stipulated by the various states. During the year, interns prepare several "PDPs" (Professional Development Products), such as a philosophy of education statement, student observations, curriculum unit designs and lesson plans-but each is geared to what the intern will be able to utilize in an actual school and classroom setting. In addition, each intern prepares a digital portfolio-a collection of evidence that the competencies are being met. This portfolio allows interns to share the essence of their accomplishments as part of their career search for a teaching position.
UVEI's reputation for preparing outstanding teachers is very high in our region. By the end of the ten-month training period, UVEI graduates have worked in two schools, at two grade levels, and are ready to enter the profession as teachers who have a strong sense of what 21st Century learners need to succeed. Schools that hire UVEI graduates know that they are getting a teacher who not only has demonstrated teaching ability but who brings a wealth of other wisdom, skills, and insights, as a result of experience as a parent, in prior careers, and through years of independent learning. In a challenging job market, such a combination of prior learning and "world-class" preparation makes UVEI's graduates much sought-after. As one area principal put it,
I had the pleasure to work with a UVEI graduate - an incredible teacher. His second career was his best career: English Teaching. A gifted teacher who applied his life experiences to his daily work, he knew first hand the skills, content, and understandings students would need to be successful in college and the work place. He made a difference every day.
How the Program Works
Interns begin at UVEI with an orientation in August and continue through the middle of June. In the classroom, their responsibilities are increased gradually and deliberately. They instruct classes, work with small groups of students, handle crises, and otherwise function as real teachers. They are expected to report to school early, attend staff meetings and parent conferences, grade papers, and prepare materials at home. There are times during the year when the pressures on Interns of the program become quite great. This pressure is neither accidental nor contrived. Pressure in teaching is a reality with which Interns must learn to cope with skill, resilience, and humor.
The mentor teachers in whose classes interns work are chosen from among the best professionals in the region. Interns are observed and supported by supervisors on the UVEI staff who are also highly experienced educators. The purpose of the seminars and the aim of the mentor teachers are the same: to help interns develop and prove their competence as classroom teachers. Demonstrating each of 10 teaching competencies is by far the most important requirement for successful completion of the program.