The University of Southern Maine (USM) Undergraduate Teacher Education program prepares well-rounded and insightful educators who are deeply knowledgeable in the subject areas that they’ll teach.

Academic Catalog

The benefits to our Teacher Education Pathways:

  • Expertise in the content you’ll teach: By studying the content areas that you’ll teach, you’ll be prepared as an engaging and resourceful educator.
  • Experience in the classroom: You’ll gain more classroom experience here than any other teacher preparation program in the state of Maine. Field experience begins with classroom observation during your first year and continues during your second and third years. Your final year includes a year-long student teaching internship.
  • Cohort-based learning communities: During your internship year, your courses are arranged by cohort. This means that you and a group of roughly 20 fellow students will work in the same school district and study together.
  • Expanded career options: You’ll be qualified for a wide range of employment opportunities upon graduation, including careers within and outside the field of education
  • This program will prepare students to be eligible for licensure within the State of Maine. Visit the UMS State Authorization and Licensure page to learn more about the licensure requirements in other states and territories, and for contact information to inquire further about the licensure requirements associated with this program. 

Becoming a Teacher

Our Elementary Education Major provides a rigorous, authentic learning experience. When you graduate, you’ll have expertise in a broad curriculum and a superior background in educator preparation. You’ll also know which school setting suits you best, and you’ll be ready to tackle the professional challenges ahead.

The skills and attributes we emphasize and cultivate in future teachers:

  • Passion for working with children and for the subject matter you’ll teach.
  • Commitment to equity.
  • Skills and creativity in classroom technology use.
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills.
  • Adaptable team player.

Experience in the Classroom: Early and Often

We’re proud of our school partnerships with Southern Maine districts, which allow our students to gain experience in a mixture of urban, suburban, and rural school settings.

Field experience begins with classroom observation during your first year of studies, which is earlier than many other undergraduate teacher preparation programs. Many of our teacher preparation courses integrate field experience into the curriculum, so you’ll continue classroom observation throughout your second and third years.

Your final year includes a year-long student teaching internship, during which you’ll gain experience in two different school settings or grade levels.

Learn more about Field Experience and Student Teaching.

Selecting Your Concentration

As a student in the Elementary Education Major (K-6), you’ll select a concentration and/or minor from the following content areas:

  • English
  • Geography-Anthropology
  • History
  • Liberal Studies
  • Mathematics
  • Sciences

Cohort-Based Learning Communities

Your final internship year is an intensive, supported experience. You will have cohort-based classes with other USM students who are also working in the same school districts. Members of these cohorts often become essential supports in the first few years of teaching as well as life-long friends.

Our Faculty

You’ll study with our education faculty as well as faculty dedicated to your content area. Their scholarship is grounded in school-based practices and includes topics of equity and inclusion in schools, critical race theory, citizen science, and place-based history. Our faculty is deeply dedicated to our students, and they strive to create a community of lifelong learners.

Our Campuses

Your classes will be held on both our urban Portland campus and our residential Gorham campus

Our students commute easily between the Portland and Gorham campuses via the WiFi-enabled METRO Husky Line.

Accreditation & the School of Education and Human Development

As a program within the School of Education and Human Development, the undergraduate Teacher Education program is nationally accredited by CAEP (Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation) and state-approved by the Maine Department of Education.

The School of Education and Human Development has a rich history dating back to the Gorham Normal School, established by the state of Maine in 1878. Today, the School has a mission of preparing educators and human development professionals for responsible service that is as relevant to society today as it was more than a century ago.

Learning Outcomes

Upon graduation, our students must meet the Maine Department of Education and InTASC (Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium) Model Core Teaching Standards. Our Learning Outcomes are aligned with these standards.

The Teacher Education faculty at the University of Southern Maine (USM) are dedicated to instilling a commitment to equitable and engaged learning in its students and supporting students to be teachers who:

  • Continually examine beliefs and practices and act upon findings to improve teaching and learning.
  • Provide a variety of accessible learning experiences that attend fairly to learners’ strengths, needs, and interests.
  • Establish and communicate clear, challenging, and attainable standards for all learners.
  • Support and refine teaching and learning through sharing diverse perspectives and understandings.
  • Integrate teaching knowledge and disciplinary knowledge to foster and support professional expertise.
  • Use multiple sources of information, including performance-based assessments, to make valid inferences about student learning and informed instructional decisions.
  • Provide feedback and adjust teaching based on growing understandings about learners and learning.
  • Create, study, critique, and apply research related to teaching, learning, and schooling.

Students must meet the Maine Department of Education and InTASC (Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium) Model Core Teaching Standards. Undergraduate Teacher Education at USM uses a rubric that aligns to these standards to assess students for program completion and certification recommendation.

Standard #1: Learner Development

The teacher understands how learners grow and develop, recognizing that patterns of learning and development vary individually within and across the cognitive, linguistic, social, emotional, and physical areas, and designs and implements developmentally appropriate and challenging learning experiences.

Standard #2: Learning Differences

The teacher uses an understanding of individual differences and diverse cultures and communities to ensure inclusive learning environments that enable each learner to meet high standards.

Standard #3: Learning Environments

The teacher works with others to create environments that support individual and collaborative learning, and that encourage positive social interaction, active engagement in learning, and self-motivation.

Standard #4: Content Knowledge

The teacher understands the central concepts, tools of inquiry, and structures of the discipline(s) he or she teaches and creates learning experiences that make these aspects of the discipline accessible and meaningful for learners to assure mastery of the content.

Standard #5: Application of Content

The teacher understands how to connect concepts and use differing perspectives to engage learners in critical thinking, creativity, and collaborative problem solving related to authentic local and global issues.

Standard #6: Assessment

The teacher understands and uses multiple methods of assessment to engage learners in their own growth, to monitor learner progress, and to guide the teacher’s and learner’s decision making.

Standard #7: Planning for Instruction

The teacher plans instruction that supports every student in meeting rigorous learning goals by drawing upon knowledge of content areas, curriculum, cross-disciplinary skills, and pedagogy, as well as knowledge of learners and the community context.

Standard #8: Instructional Strategies

The teacher understands and uses a variety of instructional strategies to encourage learners to develop a deep understanding of content areas and their connections, and to build skills to apply knowledge in meaningful ways.

Standard #9: Professional Learning and Ethical Practice

The teacher engages in ongoing professional learning and uses evidence to continually evaluate his/her practice, particularly the effects of his/her choices and actions on others (learners, families, other professionals, and the community), and adapts practice to meet the needs of each learner.

Standard #10: Leadership and Collaboration

The teacher seeks appropriate leadership roles and opportunities to take responsibility for student learning, to collaborate with learners, families, colleagues, other school professionals, and community members to ensure learner growth, and to advance the profession.

Standard #11: ISTE Technology Standards for Teachers

Effective teachers model and apply the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) standards for students as they design, implement, and assess learning experiences to engage students and improve learning; enrich professional practice; and provide positive models for students, colleagues, and the community.