To Credential or Not to Credential?
“To Credential or not to Credential?” That was my question. When I first learned about the Texas Adult Education Teacher Credential Program, I thought, “I have a job, I do it well, and I enjoy my students. Why do I need to spend time working on a Credential? What are the benefits, and what’s in it for me?”
Because I am a professional development “junkie” and take every opportunity presented to me to attend training activities, I attended the introductory workshop that explained the credential process and requirements. At first glance, the process seemed overwhelming. However, as I filled out my professional development plan, I discovered that I had completed enough activities to get started. I just needed to sit down and critically reflect on what I learned from those training sessions. The process of working on earning my credential helped me see what I had learned, what I had used, what was successful, and what wasn’t so successful.
Working on the credential changed my classroom practices and therefore benefited my students. My classroom activities shifted from teacher-directed to student-directed, from passive to active. Prior to enrolling in the credential, I would attend a professional development activity, take notes, learn new activities, receive my certificate, and then go back to what I was doing in the classroom. After enrolling in the credential, I learned how to analyze my classroom practices and activities through critical reflection and how to adjust activities to meet the needs of my students. I also learned how to involve students in the process of incorporating new practices into our classroom.
One area of the credential that was very beneficial to me is Principles of Adult Learning. By participating in and reflecting on professional development activities in this category, I have a better understanding of adult learners. Prior to my working with adults, I worked with children. One key principle that I learned is that adults have prior knowledge that needs to be activated and used in the learning process. Helping adults realize and activate their prior knowledge increases their confidence and helps develop their desire to know more and anchors their new knowledge to their previous knowledge.
The most meaningful component of the credential process for me was writing critical reflections. Writing something on paper makes it more real. Critically reflecting on my teaching helped me value my professional development activities more because I actually put into practice what I learned. Recognizing that failures will happen and using failures to plan for success was a valuable lesson.
My perspective of professional development activities did not change much; I still like to attend and learn. I believe that to be a good teacher, I need to be a good learner. What did change was what I do with the information or knowledge I gain from the training. Instead of filing it away, I incorporate at least one new activity into my classroom. I have also begun the practice of informing my students when I plan to attend a workshop, so they are ready for something new that we can work on together.
Due to the credential process, I learned the skill of critical reflection. In my busy world, time is precious. After learning how to analyze and critically reflect on professional development activities, I now use that skill to make choices in my life outside the classroom. I also learned the value of a voluntary activity. The credential process is voluntary. I participated of my own free will without the promise of any rewards. From the process, I increased student involvement in my classroom, learned some new skills, and also received a promotion after completion of the credential. I highly recommend participating in the Texas Adult Education Teacher Credential Program. It IS worth the effort. All you have to do is start.
About the Author
Debbie Janysek is the ESL Coordinator for the Victoria College Adult Education program. She has been in adult education for five years. She has a Bachelor of Science Degree from Texas A&M University. She received her Texas Adult Education Teacher Credential in April 2007 and is participating in the pilot of the Texas Adult Education Administrator’s Credential.
Chris Palacios is First to Complete
Texas Adult Education Administrator Credential
On Monday, January 14, 2008 Chris Palacios became the first administrator to complete the Texas Adult Education Administrator Credential. Palacios, who has served as the Director of the Department of GED Instruction at Del Mar College in Corpus Christi for the past 11 years, is the first member of the initial pilot group of administrators to complete the necessary requirements to earn the Administrator Credential.
In order to complete the Administrator Credential, Ms. Palacios submitted an electronic portfolio in which she demonstrated that she possessed the knowledge and skills detailed in the Administrator Credential Content Framework. The Content Framework was developed by Texas administrators and specifies the knowledge and skills that administrators in the State of Texas have determined to be necessary in order to perform the role of administrator.
Administrators interested in volunteering to participate in the second pilot group should contact the Credential Project by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by calling 866-798-8767.