Spark Teacher Education Institute (Spark) is a program of the non-profit Educational Praxis. Spark currently offers a licensure program in Teaching for Social Justice in the State of Vermont. Spark is a rigorous, field-based, teacher preparation program leading to licensure in the candidate’s chosen endorsement area. The program strives to instill an understanding of self and others in conjunction with the development of skills, knowledge, critical thinking, and compassion required for creating an equitable and engaging learning environment for diverse learners.
Interns spend a full year in a school setting while completing course work and participating in integrated seminars. Upon successful completion of the program, students are qualified to apply for a Vermont teacher certification.
Spark focuses on teaching for social justice. The curriculum emphasizes the pedagogy of creating and managing democratic classrooms, building community within the classroom, teaching through authentic experiences, and teaching for social responsibility. The curriculum is integrated and contextualized in the analysis of historical and current issues.
Experiential learning is a cornerstone of the program. The student acquires both theory and skills through practical experience in the schoolroom, combined with analysis and discussion in seminars with faculty and peers. This work is highly collaborative in nature.
The program is characterized by three distinct facets of preparation:
Exploring Self as Teacher
Interns investigate and seek answers to questions about their own views of teaching and learning. They are asked to recollect their own experiences and subject them to scrutiny. An emphasis is placed on developing an understanding of one’s own cultural roots and worldview while exploring diversity in a global society. Interns will:
- Recall and reflect on their own intellectual and educational past.
- Broaden critical cultural consciousness.
- Clarify their values and develop new principles in relation to education.
Knowing the Present
Interns focus on the study of the present educational systems, the curricula, and the theories, practices, and policies on which they are based. Concurrently, interns develop skills in critical thinking, clinical observation, reflection, and action research. They develop sound teaching pedagogies including methods and classroom practices that reflect the principles of social justice and equity. Interns will:
- Comprehend and critically examine educational and social theories.
- Examine the presentation of knowledge and its sources.
- Study the cultural groundings of diverse communities from economic, political and social perspectives.
- Construct and articulate principles of equity and teaching excellence.
- Develop skills required for critical thinking.
- Develop pedagogical practices and methods of teaching that respond to diverse learners and that integrate multicultural education.
Interns use newly acquired knowledge and skills to confront and reconstruct practices and policies essential to creating optimal learning environments for diverse student learners. Interns will:
- Articulate cogently their views of teaching and its practice.
- Master and employ action research skills.
- Learn the skills for effective advocacy, working collaboratively and broadening collegial relationships.
- Implement innovative and principled educational programs in the classroom and school.
- Apply organizational skills to affect educational change in the broader community
Download the Spark 2020-2021 Handbook
Areas of Licensure
The Vermont Agency of Education has approved the Spark Teacher Education Institute to recommend graduates for licensure in the State of Vermont in the following areas:Elementary Education
Secondary Education with endorsements (content areas an educator is allowed to teach) in:
In addition to completing the Spark Program, the only additional requirements to obtain your license are that you take the following exams:
- Praxis I
- Praxis II
For more information about testing, visit the Vermont Agency of Education’s website.
Vermont is part of an interstate agreement called the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC), under which most other states will recognize a Vermont license and allow the holder to teach in that state. Some states may have a few additional requirements such as state-specific testing. Visit the NASDTEC website to check the requirements for the state(s) you hope to teach in.
Visit the VT Agency of Education’s Route to Initial Licensure Page.
If you have further questions, please contact SparkTeacherEdVT@gmail.com