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.
A Model of Competency-Based Learning
The UVEI model differs significantly from university graduate programs in education. Believing that teaching is an art best learned through practice, UVEI reverses the percentage of time traditionally allotted to academic theory (with us, 20%) vs. classroom practice (80%). In our internship, each candidate works full-time in a classroom under the supervision of a mentor, chosen from among the best professionals in the region. This year-long internship, separated into two placements of four months each, focuses on the mastery of 10 teaching Competencies, all of which must be demonstrated by the intern in order to graduate. This experience is reinforced by weekly seminars and by observation and support from UVEI faculty coaches, who are highly-experienced educators. At the end of their internships, graduates have studied the topics normally covered in conventional academic programs, but they have been able to integrate these concepts as they acquire a full year of teaching experience.
UVEI's reputation for preparing outstanding teachers is very well-respected. By the end of the preparation 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.
Read about how a recent UVEI graduate applied her experience during her first year teaching.
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 with a self-directed induction period in July, an orientation in August and ongoing seminars that take place once-a-week from August through early 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.
Work Side by Side with a Mentor Teacher
The mentor teachers in whose classes interns work are chosen from among the best professionals in the region. Interns are observed and supported by faculty coaches 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.