I finished my NTCM certification in June 2007. It was really a joyful process for all of us in Minnesota due to the diligence of our mentor, teacher, and friend, Dr. Marianne Bryan. A group of 9 or 10 of us were coached through the process and took the certification test together at our state convention in June. I thought the whole process was enjoyable because we were all doing it together. Not all in the group had college degrees, so some had to do tests in theory, music history, and pedagogy. It was so worth it, to examine my philosophy of teaching and ways to handle various issues in my studio. All of us passed, and had a celebration lunch in September! Get a group together and do this in your state - I highly recommend the process
There are 5 "standards" as you may already know. Our group met about once a month on a Saturday to discuss questions MTNA makes available to mentors for each standard. It was totally enjoyable, and there were different ways of thinking about each question. For instance, the question "what you would consider in setting up a budget for your business?" - I was thinking about what expenses you need to budget and my colleague was thinking more along the lines of what did she want to make and how many students at what rate would provide the income she needed.
The standards are:
* Standard I: Professional Preparation
* Standard II: Professional Teaching Practices
* Standard III: Professional Business Management
* Standard IV: Professionalism and Partnerships
* Standard V: Professional and Personal Renewal
To apply I had to fill out an application and send my college transcript. Those who don't have the college credits required in Music Theory, Music History, and Pedagogy have to take a proficiency test in those areas. It happened I was only short 1 semester in Music History/Literature. A candidate needs 3 semesters and I only had 2, so I took the Music History test in April. Aside from that, I just studied each of the standards we discussed in our group and took the certification test at our state convention in June. I must be weird - I actually enjoyed studying for this test and kept computer files of all I did.
It was so much better to go through this as a group. Last year in MN only 1 person was NCTM certified. She worked with me on our state contest and I can see she's the type of person that might rather do it on her own than with a group - she's incredibly intelligent - but not me! If a candidate has a bachelor's and a master's degree, I doubt that you would need to take any proficiency test, just the certification test. It is difficult to write for 3 hrs. but I'd much rather take the test than do a portfolio, which could take months to put together. None of our group decided to go the way of the portfolio. I highly recommend going through this process.
First step - Send in the application with your transcript. On the transcript they want to see: (Mine were semester credits, they also have a way to count quarter credits if that's what you have.)
1 Music Theory - 4 credits (if I remember correctly)
2 Music History - 3 credits
3 Pedagogy - 2 credits (I think) Any education classes will do, like Ed.Psych. or Adol.Psych. I had vocal pedagogy, piano pedagogy, teaching strings, teaching woodwinds, teaching brass, teaching secondary music, etc., etc. so I had more than enough.
If they look at your transcript and tell you that you need to take a proficiency test in theory, history, or pedagogy, these are short tests. You can probably finish in less than 30 min. They are not essay, but more objective, like T/F, multiple choice, short answer, about 100 points in probably 50 questions.
If you had a college recital, that's all the playing you would have to do. Those in our group who hadn't done a college recital prepared one piece from each historical period and played for a panel of 3 MMTA members who were either college teachers or already had NCTM certification. They got valuable comments on their critique from the panel of 3. I'm sure they were all a little scared since they hadn't done performances for many years. The 3 areas of history, theory, and pedagogy plus the credit for performance (whether college credit for a recital or a performance before the panel) comprise standard 1 so that is totally done and won't be tested on again.
Our group discussed standards II through V in our montly meetings, and the answers to the questions provided for each standard prepared us to take the certification test, which everyone has to take. This is the 3 hr. all essay test over topics like your philosophy of teaching, budget planning for your business, 10 items you want to cover in the student's first year of lessons, 5 ways you could build a relationship with your community, 5 ways you contribute to your profession. This gives you a general idea of the kind of general questions on the certification exam.
Knowing now what I had to demonstrate I knew and what I learned, both about myself and teaching in general, was totally worth it: my certification really means something and I'm proud that I saw the process through. For the current certification processes, please see www.mtnacertification.org/
FOR THE TEACHER
- Encourages improvement in teaching through continuous self-study.
- Raises the likelihood for a higher level of teacher competency and effectiveness.
- Provides a goal for personal professional achievement for music teachers.
- Increases the potential for earning power for music teachers.
- Improves the level of professionalism within the field of music teaching.
- Identifies for the public competent music teachers.
- Fosters excellence in music education through the development of criteria, standards, and guidelines for assessing educational competencies in performance, music theory, music history/literature, and pedagogy/teacher education.
- Assures the educational community, the general public, and other agencies or organizations that the MTNA Professional Certification Program for music teachers has been clearly defined with appropriate standards.
- Provides a national forum for the discussion and consideration of concerns relevant to the preservation and advancement of standards in the field of music and music education.
- Develops a national unity and strength for the purpose of maintaining the position of music study in the family of fine arts and humanities and providing qualified teachers to guide that study.
- Sets a uniform national minimum standard of achievement without restricting the development of new ideas, experimentation, or the expansion of personal standards
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