Penn GSE

Teacher Education Program

The master’s degree program in early elementary education is designed to prepare teachers to work with children in pre-kindergarten through grade 4 (PreK – 4). Drawing on the broad content areas of literacy, math, science and social studies, music, art, drama, and health, and aligned with newly adopted Common Core State Standards, teachers are equipped to teach the broad curriculum in early elementary classrooms and schools.

Program of Study

Summer: Coursework Special Topics, and Fieldwork

The focus of summer work is learning about the contexts for learning in the neighborhoods in which student teachers will be placed.


Special Topics

In the summer, student teachers learn about early start literacy practices with young children

Summer Fieldwork: 

Students participate in an early childhood, PreK community field placement, spending 36 hours while taking courses.

Fall: Coursework Special Topics, and Student Teaching

In the fall, student teachers focus on learners and learning as students develop child studies and lessons in each of the content areas.


Special Topics:

Click here to learn more about our Special Topics Seminars.

Student Teaching

Students are placed with carefully selected mentor teachers and are clustered within schools. Beginning the week before the first day of school, they spend two full days teaching each week, , so they can become familiar with the classroom and the school. Each student teacher is placed in an early elementary classroom (grades K-4) and has a Penn Mentor (field supervisor) who visits weekly, to observe and provide support, respond to reflective journals, and lead site meetings with the school cohorts. 

Spring: Coursework Special Topics, and Fieldwork

In the spring, the focus is on curriculum. Students develop an integrated unit of study for their class and move on to the final section of the program where the focus is on praxis. In lieu of a master’s thesis, students design a web-based portfolio addressing a critical issue that rises from their teaching and supporting their arguments with artifacts from their teaching experience.


Special Topics:

Click here to learn more about our Special Topics Seminars.

Student Teaching

Beginning when schools re-open in early January, student teachers spend five full days in their elementary classrooms (grades K-4) as the students assume full responsibility for their classroom teaching.

Pennsylvania PreK-4 Certification

Upon successful completion of all components of the teacher education program, including clearances, pre-requisite coursework, all required courses, and student teaching, students receive faculty recommendation for instructional 1 certification, which is awarded by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. PDE requires that all applicants for instructional 1 certification be either US citizens or permanent residents and be willing to submit a form indicating intention of applying for US citizenship.

All applicants for the PreK-4 certificate must have completed a minimum of two courses in English (one a writing course and one a British or American literature course) and two math courses. Upon admission, we work with students to determine if they need additional courses to satisfy these certification requirements. 

While we offer faculty recommendation for Pennsylvania certification, many of our students obtain Pennsylvania certification and then move to other states or countries. There is a NASDTEC Interstate Agreement to facilitate movement by teachers among states. We recommend, therefore, that students obtain Pennsylvania certification even if they plan to teach in other states.