Students who are trying their best to become a theater teacher often have pressing questions about what is required, how to achieve state licensing, and which examinations must be passed in order to be considered highly qualified according to state standards. Unlike more traditional content areas ranging from math and science to English and foreign language, the landscape for today’s aspiring theater teacher involves a significant undergraduate component and required graduate-level studies in almost all cases.
That’s because there currently is no widespread, combined program that teaches both theater and the education background needed to manage and enliven a modern classroom. Those students with this specific ambition should follow a logical, step-by-step plan to achieving full compliance with teacher licensing guidelines as soon as they begin their undergraduate studies.
Start with an Undergraduate Major in a Theater-Related Field
Whether it’s acting, drama, music, musical theater, or even stage direction and set design, students who wish to one day lead a classroom of their own should dedicate their undergraduate years to one of these areas. This allows the aspiring theater teacher to hone their craft and learn more about what it means to either manage the stage or even take the stage on a regular basis. They’ll learn new acting skills, musical skills, design and management skills, and one day be able to convey this wide range of abilities to students in high schools across the country. Before even considering the educational component, first master the art of actually being a theater performer or director. Only after graduation should the next component be a consideration.
Choose a Graduate-Level Program in Education
For many teachers, their work is finished after they graduate with an undergraduate degree in their content area. That’s not the case for theater majors, who often don’t have the time or coursework necessary to learn how to master a typical classroom. Instead, theater majors must next enroll in a graduate-level education program that will teach them child psychology, curriculum and instruction, classroom management and appropriate lesson pacing. These classes will almost always come with a practicum that involves student teaching for at least one semester toward the conclusion of the coursework. This component is required by most state licensing boards, and should be considered the most exciting part of any program.
Get Ready for the Praxis Theater Examination and State Licensure
Though there are few theater education degree programs available nationwide, the Educational Testing Service has already developed a strong PRAXIS examination for those who wish to teach the subject to today’s students. Known as PRAXIS Theater, this exam is the last stage of the curriculum and certification process. Teachers must pass the exam with a grade set by the state in order to receive their full, permanent teaching license.
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If they fail to meet this passing threshold, they can opt to retake the exam as many times as they need in order to achieve that passing score. Once the benchmark for passing has been reached, scores will be forwarded to the state’s Department of Education for review and a license will be mailed to the teacher within approximately eight weeks. In combination with their graduate school diploma, theater professional are now ready to seek full-time employment as an educator. According to the Houston Chronicle, though it takes more work, it’s still a rather straightforward process to become a theater teacher in today’s schools.