New or uncertified local teachers are going back to class at Franklin Parish Teacher Academy.
The twice-monthly meetings are in-house instruction periods designed to guide teachers in the certification process and coach new educators on various topics dealing with their profession.
The academy held its inaugural session Dec. 2 at the School Board office with 55 attendees, according to Tan Blackson, personnel and elementary supervisor, reading coordinator.
“Really trying to get our teachers prepared and trained because this will trickle down to our students,” Blackson said. “This program we have started is engaging and effective for our new teachers and those becoming certified.”
In Franklin Parish, 70 percent of teachers were certified, but Blackson desired for all teachers to become certified.
“We are encouraging all of our new teachers and those seeking to obtain their certification to attend,” Blackson said.
Statewide, seven percent or 3,332 of 43,931 teachers were uncertified, according to an 2019-2020 Educator Workforce Report. Sixteen percent or 7,278 certified teachers were classified as “out-of-field” teachers. An out-of-field teacher held a valid teaching certificate, but was not certified for their teaching assignment in at least one class.
During meetings, attendees learn classroom management and different teaching styles. They are also taught various topics such as how to have a proper teacher / parent conference, special math and reaching techniques and improving student performance scores. Classes will be held through June.
Teachers will also hear from some parish principals, curriculum coordinators and supervisors along with exterior presenters, according to Blackson.
Additionally, several universities who offer a certification course are scheduled to attend the academy.
Louisiana Christian University (formerly Louisiana College) and Grand Canyon University attended Dec. 2.
iTEACH University, Grambling State University and University of Louisiana Monroe are scheduled to attend in future sessions, according to Blackson.
All teachers in Louisiana are required to hold a bachelor’s degree, complete a Louisiana teacher preparation program and pass the appropriate Praxis exams, according to Louisiana Department of Education.
For traditional route educators attending a Louisiana-based program, the required teacher preparation which includes 180 hours of field experience and a full year of classroom residency would be included in the bachelor’s degree curriculum.
Those who have already earned a bachelor’s degree but did not complete teacher preparation may be eligible for alternative teacher certification.
Louisiana uses a tiered-licensing structure. Those who meet the basic requirements are eligible for a Level 1 Professional Certificate. Teachers can advance to the Level 2 Professional Certificate by completing the Louisiana Teacher Assistance and Assessment Program (LATAAP) and successfully teaching for three years. Educators can advance to the highest certificate, the Level 3 Professional Certificate, by earning a master’s degree and teaching for at least five years.
Through it all, the new Teacher Academy is designed to help educators through the certification process. And on Thursday evening, Blackson looked over the crowd of new educators receiving instruction and was hopeful for the education of Franklin Parish youth.
“I am very excited about what is happening, and I’m expecting some positive feedback,” Blackson said.