Insights from the School of Education and Social Policy at Merrimack College
While a bachelor’s degree is enough to enter the teaching field, a master’s degree can lead to better job opportunities, improvement in teaching skills and a higher possibility of greater income. That’s why ambitious teachers who want to take on leadership roles and become the best teacher possible pursue a master’s degree in secondary education.
It’s also a necessity for teachers in Massachusetts, which consistently ranks among the best states in the nation for its public school system. The state holds teachers to a higher standard than most other places and has a tiered system for teacher licensure. While a bachelor’s degree can get you into teaching in Massachusetts, a master’s degree in secondary educationis required to stay in the teaching field.
What You Learn in an M.Ed. Program
In Massachusetts, a master’s degree in secondary education prepares you to earn your initial license for teaching in grades 5 through 12 in either a middle school or high school. At Merrimack College, the online master’s degree in secondary education allows educators to develop expert-level skills in curriculum design, instructional strategies, observation and assessment of students, communication and collaborating with families and community. It’s a program that prepares teachers for leadership and becoming better educators. The biggest advantage of a master’s degree in secondary education is found in the courses themselves. For example, courses at Merrimack College include the following.
Teaching and Learning in Inclusive Classrooms
Teachers learn techniques for differentiating instruction, including tiered instruction and accommodating different learning styles and levels of readiness in students. They also learn systematic behaviors that create more orderly, cooperative and motivational classrooms.
Literacies Across the Content Areas
This course focuses on enhancing discipline-based learning through the application of reading, writing, speaking and listening strategies. The curriculum builds off a foundation of concepts related to Common Core Literacy and College and Career Readiness. Key areas include:
- Vocabulary acquisition
- Speaking and listening in collaborative group settings
- Reading and comprehending complex texts
- Writing to learn
- Writing for audiences
Information Technology in Education
Innovations in technology impact every area of society, including education. This course provides teachers with training on some of the basic technology now available to support students developing abilities in areas such as evaluating and curating online information, creating content and using digital tools to collaborate. Part of the course is to teach educators how to build an effective argument for adding technology to their classroom.
The best secondary school teachers must understand students. This course provides insights into adolescent development – cognitive, social, physical and emotional. Graduate students take this course if they have not received credit for it at the undergraduate level.
General Advantages of Online Classes
Online education has made earning a graduate degree a realistic goal for teachers. Previously, taking the time away from their career to attend on-campus classes proved too difficult for many. Online degree programs have changed that. Teachers now can maintain their current jobs while also attending classes online. They can choose when they view lectures and work on assignments, built around their own schedules. They also are saved the inconvenience of traveling to and from campus.
The Merrimack College Difference
Merrimack College takes an approach to education that focuses both on preparing teachers to earn their licensure in Massachusetts, teach them the latest strategies and techniques and provide them with the skills to apply theory into practical classroom sessions. For online students, the M.Ed. program in secondary education features immersion events that allow teachers to attend seminars, listen to guest speakers and participate in networking sessions. This allows them to see, in person, faculty and fellow students they have collaborated with online.
Merrimack College also arranges for field-based experiences at schools in Massachusetts, close to where the online student lives. This gives online students the chance to learn in the classroom through three pre-practicums and a full practicum. The school also provides students with support for the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL) exams to earn an initial license. This aspect of the program is built into the curriculum.
With the advantages of online learning and the depth of knowledge available in a master’s degree program, teachers in Massachusetts have a better way than ever to earn a graduate degree and prepare themselves for getting licensed through the state.