International Education & Importance of Certification
Mike Pierre and Dr. Dana Specker Watts recently sat down with Joseph Pearson to discuss the field of international education and the importance of certification. You can listen to the entire conversation at https://lnns.co/X53eOtNzKnr or by searching for the ISS EDUlearn Ask Me Anything podcast on apple or spotify.
Speaker 1: Constructive, positive attitude or enthusiastic attitude really makes a difference for Melanie, myself.
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Speaker 1: Creating this dynamic of carrots and we’re not getting what we’re paying. At the same time we are investing more and more.
Speaker 3: Welcome to ISS EDUlearn: Ask Me Anything with Mike and Dana. Here, we’ll be exploring how international schools are innovating and transforming education around the world. From the latest trends and insights to stories from teachers and administrators, you’ll get the inside look to the global education landscape. So join us as we explore what the future of international education has in store. Get ready to be inspired, challenge the status quo, and embrace a world of possibilities.
Mike Pierre: Welcome back to ISS EDUlearn: Ask Me Anything with Mike and Dana where we bring together experts and thought leaders from around the world to share insights and ideas that will help improve the education experience for students and teachers, administrations and parents alike, I am Mike Pierre, your favorite educator, interviewer. And I am with my co-host, Dr. Dana Specker Watts, the director of learning research and outreach at ISS. Dana, how are you today?
Dr. Dana Specker Watts: I’m doing just great Mike. Thank you.
Mike Pierre: Very good to hear. Before we get started today, just a few housekeeping items. Don’t forget to hit the like, subscribe and leave us a review. We can be found on Apple Podcast, Google podcast, Amazon Music, I Heart Radio, Stitcher and Spotify. Please visit us on iss.edu/events for any of our upcoming professional development courses and in-person and virtual eye fairs that we’ll be having. And today we’ll be exploring the topic of international education and the importance of certification, we’re thrilled to have with us today, Joseph Pearson, who also goes by Joey from Moreland University. And Joey is the professional development specialist at Moreland University. Joey, how are you today?
Joseph Pearson: Hi Mike. I’m doing well. Thank you so much. And I have to just share that it’s an honor to be here with you and Dana and Molly Faye.
Mike Pierre: Thank you for being here with us today. And Joey, could you just tell us a little bit more about the program that you are here to represent and what makes it unique at Moreland University?
Joseph Pearson: Absolutely. Well, I am honored to be part of the staff of Moreland University, which began as the Teach Now Program, the Teach Now Graduate School of Education. And for more than 10 years we have been teaching teachers around the world to be resourceful problem solvers and tech savvy educators through our online collaborative activity-based learning system, which we designed for tomorrow’s students in a dynamic and diverse world. What makes our program unique is the fact that we empower teachers to improve their practice and to seek US certification from anywhere in the world and a system that though it may be virtual is influenced, enhanced, and centered around the importance of collaboration and community through our activities based model. So we believe that teachers learn with and from one another by actively practicing planning and implementing best practices. And that’s really what we are here to do.
Mike Pierre: Joey, what are some key benefits of becoming a certified teacher overseas? And I really asked this because I recently have been hearing about the rate of educators being very low in the United States. So perhaps if they come overseas, maybe that can be another route for them to continue to teach.
Joseph Pearson: US Certification is a means by which teachers can seek employment in international schools around the world. Many international schools and in particular American international schools require teachers to have a US certification in order to work there. And our program allows teachers without ever having to step foot in the United States to seek certification in a US state that allows them to move into full-time teaching positions or into coaching positions, administrative roles or even as heads of school. The US certification process also empowers teachers with a set of best practices and a knowledge base of core pedagogical skills that enhances their ability to serve students in diverse classrooms. So our program not only enables them to obtain that US license, but it also equips them with what they need to serve students in classrooms in diverse contexts and countries around the world.
Mike Pierre: I’ve also read on your website that you have two types of certification programs. Could you discuss the differences between those programs and the benefits of each please?
Joseph Pearson: Absolutely. I think it’s important to note that we are a graduate school of education and the central offering that we have is our Teach Now Teacher Preparation Certificate program that’s a nine month program delivered entirely online that incorporates a clinical practice segment in which teachers practice in a classroom with a mentor while completing the coursework in our online platform. That program is a post-baccalaureate program, meaning teachers need to have a bachelor’s degree to enter in. Once they’ve completed that, they have done the majority of the work to obtain a master’s degree. So anyone who goes through our teacher certification program, which is just that a certification program can add on four additional modules in a grand total of four months in order to earn a full master’s degree in education. And we empower our candidates and that’s what we call teachers in our program, our candidates to be able to earn a master’s degree with four additional months in six different specialization areas. And that’s really the distinction. The Teach Now Program is a program designed to instill within teachers the best practices to just be a good teacher regardless of the subject area or grade level, while our master’s degrees really focus in on a specialized area. Some of those include educational technology, early childhood education, special education, and teaching multilingual learners among other topics. So that’s really the distinction. We have our teacher prep program and our master’s degrees in education.
Mike Pierre: Alright, thank you for that. And Joey, where are you located?
Joseph Pearson: Well, I personally am in sunny San Diego, California. But we are headquartered in Washington DC and our teachers come to us in more than 165 countries around the world.
Mike Pierre: Why does being certified through DC enhance your teachers’ credentials and give them more opportunities for them internationally?
Joseph Pearson: We in fact empower teachers to obtain a US teaching certificate in multiple states, not just Washington DC but we found that Washington DC is a wonderful partner for us to be able to certify teachers in countries around the world without ever having to come to the United States. We do work with hundreds, if not thousands of teachers in the United States and we certify them in their respective states. For instance, Georgia and California and Florida and various states where our candidates move and teach and are able to obtain a US licensure. But we are an approved provider in Washington, DC, West Virginia, Arizona, and recently Florida. Were ever growing and seeking to become an approved provider of preparation services in as many states as possible throughout the United States.
Dr. Dana Specker Watts: And Mike, it’s really so helpful for international educators to keep their certification up, right? But a lot of certification programs, what they do is they’ll say, oh, well then you have to come back and you have to teach in our state for a certain number of years. Or you can only be gone from the state for such a certain amount of time. What’s unique about this program and so helpful for more international teachers to know is that you don’t have to come back. You don’t have to come back and teach in Washington DC to keep your certification going. When I was in Thailand and New York State said, oh, you have to leave Thailand and my three children and return to New York. And I can’t remember if it was for three or five years teach in New York State to keep my certification going. I was like, but my children, my family are in a different country and I’m just going to like, you can’t do that. And so teachers, what happens a lot overseas is we lose our certification even though we did it, we went through every hoop there is to do to get it. We took all the coursework, we did all the certification, but to stay certified is the problem. So Moreland to offers a solution and a solution that teachers have needed, international teachers have needed for a really long time.
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Joseph Pearson: And frankly, we’re still unique in our ability to provide that service to teachers around the world. There really is no other program that’s doing what we’re doing and in a way that is so accessible and so effective. We are not designed just to be a quick solution. We are designed to support teachers in growing in their pedagogical skillset and being effective in the classroom while also obtaining that us teaching certificate, renewing that license and being able to do all of that from within the cultural context and the country where they serve students.
Dr. Dana Specker Watts: And one of the reasons, I was so thrilled when ISS first started talking to Moreland and saying, okay, how can we strategically help one another? One of the things that we were talking about was like that’s, we have teachers all the time who lose our licensure. And so what we did, while they’re overseas, so at the time Laura Light was our director of global recruitment and she and I both sat in and audited a bunch of courses through Moreland University and I was highly impressed with how it’s also practical, you’re learning stuff, but then you’re applying it back into your classroom in your everyday practice. So it’s not like you have all these things that you have to do in addition to your regular job. There are things that you’re applying into your school and into your classroom right away, which is what I personally think almost every higher Ed program should be doing when we’re looking at people who are practitioners already. So I think I can’t speak more highly of the things that I saw. I mean, Joey, I’m really impressed with the program and I really want more international educators to know about it because you’re empowering them so that they don’t get whisked under the rug and it can be so frustrating figure out how to do all this, especially when you’re overseas and you’ve created a solution.
Joseph Pearson: Well, and I appreciate Dana, the way that you have framed that. I use a lot of these terms like pedagogy and best practice because I am deeply involved in the work of developing programs and of designing this course for our teachers. But the truth is, let’s strip away all the big words and all the fancy terminology and just say what we do. We give teachers the basic skills that they need to be effective at, teaching, supporting students and their individual needs and student-centered environments, managing the classroom, implementing technology effectively, collaborating with colleagues, working with families, planning lessons, developing assessments, taking and using feedback to improve. These are the skills that teachers need from day one. And what we found is that we work with teachers throughout their careers. Some teachers come to us after having taught for many years, take our program and ask themselves why did I wait so long. And other participants in our program come from other careers and our career changers and move from being maybe a financial planner or a real estate agent or a tour guide or any number of careers to become teachers and gather these skills that immediately impact their ability to change students’ lives and to achieve a successful and fulfilling career in education. We talk a lot about students, but we also need to talk about teachers. We want fulfilling careers for teachers so that they stay in the classroom and that’s what we focus on doing, providing them with what they need to be happy and to be fulfilled and to be successful in the classroom.
Dr. Dana Specker Watts: And that’s so important when we have a mass exodus of educators around the world. If we can keep the teachers happy, we want them to keep in this career, it’s a phenomenal career. You just have to find the right fit. Molly Faye, I’m sorry, you wanted to ask a question?
Molly Faye: Yeah, just a quick one. Joey. Hi. Really great to have you here. And to the listeners, I’m Molly Faye. I work with Dana and Mike in the professional development department at ISS and I sit in on the podcast as kind of the voice to the listener. And I just have a quick clarifying question in terms of people going through these certifications and master’s programs, if they’re a teacher and they’re getting re-certified or getting their master’s degree, they aren’t taking a break from teaching, they can do this while they’re still in the classroom. And then the second part of that question is if somebody is in a different field has their bachelors in something unrelated to education and then they’ll take the certification to become a teacher, can they be in the classroom at the same time or is that more of a bridge to get them to the classroom?
Joseph Pearson: We require our participants to have a bachelor’s degree as a primary first step to enter our program. Other than that, teachers are able to enter our program and begin teaching almost immediately, regardless of the experience that they have or the degree that they have. We have plenty of folks who come into our programs with degrees other than education, for instance, degrees in biology or math or English or finance, then enroll in our program and from day one are in classrooms because maybe they have obtained an opportunity to start teaching, but they need to actively be working toward their certification as they’re teaching. And importantly, no part of our program is designed for teachers to only be focused on their studies with us and not working in the classroom or elsewhere. Our entire model is based on the idea that teachers are able to be working actively in the classroom whilst they take and complete our certification or master’s degrees.
Mike Pierre: And while you speak about these qualifications, the bachelor’s degrees, if there’s any others, do let us know, but what about passport requirements and restrictions as well?
Joseph Pearson: We certify teachers from 165 countries around the world. So our core requirements is that a teacher have a bachelor’s degree prior to enrolling and that really enables them to go through our program. And then as a result of our program to be able to apply for a US teaching license, we will work with teachers in our program. We call them candidates, so I’m going to use that word. We work with candidates to do a couple of things to make sure that they’re prepared for success. Number one, we verify their English language proficiency. We offer this program entirely in English and so we want to make sure that our candidates are successful. We also seek a GPA of a 3.0 or higher or equivalent experience. So we will work with candidates who may have a lower GPA reviewing their experience and in determining whether they are going to be successful in our program. And then in terms of non-US baccalaureate degrees, meaning candidates who come to us from other countries with a degree from that country, we work with them through a transcript evaluation process whereby they review their official baccalaureate degree transcripts and have it evaluated through the lens of a US program to ensure it meets all the requirements.
Mike Pierre: Okay. And then for the program that you have for your candidates, how do you make sure it’s up to date to current trends and the needs of international education?
Joseph Pearson: I love that question. We are in a constant iterative state of review and renewal at Moreland University. We live in the space of pedagogical research. We actively seek the feedback of the teachers who are in our classes, in our cohorts, in our programs, and we have expert faculty members who come to us with backgrounds and teaching and educational leadership who, many of whom are working in the classroom actively or leading schools actively. So we’re constantly reviewing our curriculum through the lens of all of the things I just stated to ensure that it is meeting all of the needs of the teachers and classrooms we serve around the world. In addition, it’s important to note that we are fully accredited and as a part of that accreditation process, we have to meet rigorous standards from DAC, the Distance Education Accrediting Commission from Cape and other accrediting bodies who ensure that our program is top-notch, rigorous, and supports students from a diversity of backgrounds and achieving the goals that we set out in our programs.
Mike Pierre: Perfect. That sounds like you’re ever evolving, which is awesome. And of course I know this program is not free. So can you speak to us about the cost of this certification program and how do you ensure equitable access for educators who have financial barriers?
Aaron Monas: Hi everyone, this is Aaron Monas, one of the co-founders of Inspire Citizens.
Scott Jameson: My name’s Scott Jameson and I am the Global collaborations lead for Inspire Citizens.
Aaron Monas: We help inspire schools to live their mission of global citizenship.
Scott Jameson: We look at existing units through the lens of empathy to impact and connect student learning with themes like sustainable development, harmony with nature, social justice and the holistic wellbeing of our community. We also work with students to co-design student leadership programs.
Aaron Monas: Another way that we support educators is through our Global Citizenship Certificate in partnership with ISS.
Scott Jameson: This certificate program involves best practice resources for global citizenship education, interactive opportunities to engage with other cohort members, a great team of coaches to walk you through your learning and optional opportunities to connect via seminars with other participants from around the world. Please visit inspirecitizens.org and click on the inspire educators tab to register for the Global Citizenship Certificate. Visit the ISS website or go to the ISS EDUlearn Passport to register today
Aaron Monas: And inspire citizens, we believe that the young people in our schools have the potential to lead change and inspire others through their work towards a more sustainable future.
Scott Jameson: We look forward to working with you and we hope that together our resources and your context can help to create a more harmonious future.
Joseph Pearson: That’s a great question. We pride ourselves in being globally accessible and that doesn’t end with the design of our program. It includes the tuition. The tuition for our Teach Now Teacher preparation program is $6,500. And for anyone in the United States who has gone through a teacher preparation program, you know that that is an extremely accessible price. As our founder, Dr. Emily Feistrizer would say, if she were sitting here with us on this call, we did not set out to be a cheap program. We set out to be the best program, but we have determined that we can be the best program in nine months using an entirely online collaborative environment. And at a cost of $6,500. For our master’s degrees, we have a slightly different pricing model at $14,000. And all of these prices are listed in US dollars. One of the ways that we ensure that we are accessible to those candidates who may have financial barriers is by offering a way that teachers can pay monthly for either of these two programs and we divide the payments into monthly payments with no additional interest and allow teachers to pay as they go through the programs.
Mike Pierre: Okay, thank you for that Joey. Just one final question that I’m going to ask. And for the just one last sales pitch. I guess for the educators that are interested in your program, how do you convince them that Moreland is the right choice for their professional development?
Joseph Pearson: We usually don’t have to do that, Mike, because our reputation and the thousands of candidates who have gone through our programs speak much more eloquently than we ever could. More than half, in fact, close to 70 to 80% of our candidates come to us as a result of the positive recommendation of one of our candidates or alums. That means that the majority of the people who end up in our programs heard about us from someone else who’s gone through our program. And so we simply have to meet the expectations and the recommendations of our community members and we strive to make our candidates proud. We usually simply have to meet the expectations of what has been conveyed by our community members and in so doing bring in hundreds of new candidates each month. But for those who may need more information and may not be entirely sure, we do offer monthly info sessions for our different programs each week of the month. So we have admissions counselors, alums, faculty members, staff members who come together in Zoom meetings throughout the month to talk about our different master’s degree programs and our online teacher certification program. And these info sessions we’re able to answer questions, we’re able to talk specifically about the needs and the experiences of the people who are in those info sessions and ensure that they know exactly what they’re getting because ultimately we’re not trying to sell this program, we’re trying to connect with the teachers who need us the most. We are unique in our ability to support international teachers. And so we want to make sure that those who come through our program are in fact on a benefit either because they need a US teaching license or because they simply need to grow in their career. And so they need the Moreland certificate of completion or the Moreland Master’s degree to grow to be the leader they want to be in their schools.
Mike Pierre: Love that. Joey, make Moreland sound more like a human than a business which is awesome. Is there any other questions or concerns that anyone else on our episode here wanted to ask before we wrap up?
Dr. Dana Specker Watts: I don’t think I have any, what’s the best way? Okay, so we do have a link on our ISS website to find out more about Moreland University, but basically it just goes straight to Moreland University. However, if you click on our link, you get a special little discount. So it might be worth checking out, but either check it out through ISS or through Moreland University. But if we can help you out with a little bit of defray some of the costs, then that’s awesome. So just go through ISS. But either way, I mean whether we are associated with you or not, I just think the world of what you guys are doing, and I wish I had known when I first started off in international schools that you existed. And I will continue to be one of your biggest supporters because I really, really believe this is a niche that is unique to our educators and schools and population. And you’re filling it and I appreciate it.
Joseph Pearson: Well, we have been blessed to be partnered with ISS for many years now, and we’re grateful to continue to serve teachers in the international school world through our partnership with this organization. Thank you so much, Dana, for inviting me to be on this podcast and Mike for interviewing me and Molly Faye for helping Coordinate.
Dr. Dana Specker Watts: Thank you, Joey.
Molly Faye: Absolutely. Yeah, I was enjoying.
Mike Pierre: Thank you so much, Joey, for sharing your insights and your knowledge today with us for the importance of certification and the international educational world. We appreciate your time and expertise and we hope our listeners found this episode informative and useful. To learn more about Moreland University and their programs, please visit their website @moreland.edu. Join us for the next episode where we continue to explore ways to improve the education experience for all. Until next time, our fellow educators, bye-bye.
International Schools Services is a global leader in everything that has to do with international education. From teacher and leadership placement to school audits and management certifications, we are here to help educators progress their careers. Learn more about ISS at iss.edu.
The ISS EDUlearn Ask Me Anything Podcast series is an offering from our Professional Development team aimed at helping international educators and those interested in the field to learn more about the the international education landscape. Find more PD offerings at https://www.iss.edu/services/professional-development.