FAQs… The El.Ed. Program

My students have different questions about their education in the eled. program as they mature into the program. My first year students are more curious about things like, “How do I know what to take next semester?” or “Where’s the gym?” or “Why am I living in Jean Mance???” My second year students really start to get curious about such things as, “Am I really hirable with a UVM degree?” “How do I compare with graduates from other schools?” “Will anyone want me without a degree in English?” “What’s praxis anyhow?”

These question are the ones students asked at the late afternoon advising meeting we held in early October. The meeting was inspired by an outburst of unquenchable curiousity that occurred in my 178 sophomore class, Fall 05. We decided on the spot to organize a late afternoon pizza/question session. Thanks to Melissa Giordano and her friends who helped organize the event.

I’ll keep this entry going until I get all the questions answered, and then I’ll keep adding to it.

The Elementary Program

1. What’s this 12 credit student teaching course all about?

After all the various internships across the four years of the program, you will have one semester where most of what you will do will be student teaching. You will be placed with a local teacher and follow that teacher’s schedule, gradually taking over the classroom. Two weeks towards the end of your student teaching semester you will be in complete charge of the classroom and your mentor teacher will be absent from the classroom. You will be the children’s teacher for two full weeks doing all the planning and preparation for that period of time. During this fifteen credit semester, twelve credits accounts for this internship experience. The other three credits are for a two credit course in classroom organization and a one credit portfolio development course. Currently, the portfolio course is being folded into the organization course for a three credit experience.

2. Can you talk about options for our major concentrations? Any suggestions?

All our major concentrations and their requirements are listed on the following website.


What to choose is a moving target. As an advisor, I usually advise two things. 1) The concentrations are not required with teaching methods in mind. They are required as one way to make you more broadly educated so it’s hard to choose one that feeds directly into a teaching interest. Choose one that you like or at least one that provides you with knowledge being sought in elementary teachers. Speech and language, Spanish, the sciences would fall into those categories. 2) NCLB legislation has narrowed the allowed concentration (or major) in some states to more traditional arts and science majors – English, History, Geography, Biology, etc. Human Development and Psychology are frowned upon by the federalistas at this point. Best advice? Check with the Department of Education in the state in which you might teach. The requirements change frequently across the varied states. One Size Does Not Fit All. Be forewarned.

3. Can I double major with my major concentration?

Not really. I mean you can, but at UVM that means fulfilling two sets of general education requirements, one for the College of Education and one for whatever other college the other major is in. It would be nice if UVM had uniform general education requirements across the various colleges but that is wishful thinking at this point. So, if you were to double major, you would have to earn in the neighborhood of 160 credits to graduate. You might as well wait and get a masters degree.

4. Can Special Education be a Major Concentration?

No. Special Education at UVM is a graduate program. There is an 18 credit special education minor that eled. majors can take but it is not part of any major field of study. Interested? Plan early! See Professor Salembier in the Special Education Office, 4th floor Waterman.

5. Why so many courses?

The College of Education and Social Services is a professional school. Our graduates have to be licensed to practice, unlike most graduates from the College of Arts and Sciences. The State of Vermont sets licensing guidelines and our programs, in part, are built around those guidelines. Other guidelines are set by national accrediting organizations such as NCATE, the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education – the most respected accrediting agency for teacher education. We have lots to do in four years given that we have to prepare you for the review of your licensing portfolio and to meet requirements for the degree. The License and the Degree are two different things. UVM awards the degree after you meet our requirements. The State of Vermont awards you a license after you prove you graduated from an approved program (and send them money to pay for the license). It’s a lot to get into eight semesters especially if you want to poke around UVM for a while sampling what it has to offer. If this is what you want to do – and it is a VERY legitimate thing to do – you are better off doing a graduate program to get your license. Says who? Says me!