Early Childhood Education 4+1 Overview
Preparing to teach 4-8 year olds (Pk-2nd grade) in Public Schools
Elements of the 4+1 Program
Salem State works closely with area partner districts to arrange for field experience for our students. As our students have thrived in these settings, our Field Coordinator has been able to extend these relationships to include paid opportunities for our students.
Students are in the public school classroom 3 hours per week throughout their third year, 10 hours per week in their fourth year, and intern as full-time teachers during the graduate year.
- Senior year internships
- Districts hire senior year 4+1 students as after school tutors, in the same schools where they complete their fieldwork. This provides additional field experiences, professional experience to add to the resume, and a higher hourly wage than most part-time jobs offer college students.
- Graduate year fellowships
- Partner districts hire our fifth year 4+1 student for the full public school year (late August through late June) as interns or paraprofessionals in their schools. Our students complete their student teaching requirements while the district covers the cost of the fifth year of their program. Students graduate with a full year of teaching experience, professional work on their resume, and less student debt.
During the first two years at Salem State, students focus on exploring education by learning more about classroom teaching but also about the many other career opportunities in the field. Students will complete coursework on culturally responsive teaching, the range of early childhood settings, the role of early intervention and special education in early childhood, and deepen their understanding of the content and importance of the early childhood curriculum. The first two years is also a time for students to broaden their learning through their general education courses and starting to focus on a minor.
In December of the second year, students complete a request to enter the 4+1 cohort that will begin fall of their third year. To be eligible, students must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better, have a reference from a faculty member, complete a writing sample, and participate in an interview. It is also highly recommended that they have passed the Communication and Literacy MTEL (reading subtest and writing subtest).
Students will be notified of their ability to progress into the third year in March, prior to the advising period when classes will be selected for the following fall.
The third year is the start of the cohort, the first year of fieldwork, and when students switch from learning about education to learning how to teach.
They will take coursework in literacy practice, special education law, universal design, lesson planning, and supporting English language learners. They will also put what they are learning into practice in their field placement.
The fourth year is the last year of the undergraduate program and the first year of the graduate program. Students take their methods classes- how to teach language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science- and immediately test their comfort with those skills by preparing, teaching, and assessing lessons in their classrooms under the supervision of their host teachers. All methods classes are taught at the graduate level and apply towards both the undergraduate and graduate degree.
Students participate in graduation in May and are awarded their bachelor's degree- but they have not yet completed their program or earned their teaching license. The fifth year is a required part of the program.
The fifth year is the student teaching year. Students work the same school year and school day as professional teachers- and fulfill the same responsibilities of lesson planning, classroom management, assessment, intervention, and so forth. They participate in all school events from back to school night to staff meetings to chaperoning school dances. This is the year when students hone their professional persona and finish the transition of moving from student to teacher.
At the end of the fifth year, students participate in the graduate graduation and are endorsed for their initial teaching license.
Students who are interested in earning a special education license along with their early childhood license can do so in this program. By taking a few additional courses during the junior and senior year (or over the summers if that is preferred), students can meet the license requirements for both elementary and special education. During the fifth year these students will be placed in inclusion classrooms and will complete half of their practicum in the role of the general education teacher and half in the role of the special education teacher.