When philosopher, scientist, and social reformer Rudolf Steiner selected the teachers for what would be the world’s first Waldorf school (in Stuttgart, Germany, in 1919), he was looking not for impressive degrees or vast teaching experience. Rather, Steiner was in search of those individuals who he believed would have profound respect, and even reverence, for the dignity of each child and the devotion to work to bring out what lived within each child’s soul. He looked for teachers with the creativity to spark their student’s imagination and a commitment and striving to develop and cultivate their own humanity and a deep interest in the world. These qualities, Steiner believed, were essential to the success of this new approach to teaching and learning. And these qualities are still the basis of Waldorf teaching around the world today.
Every day, Waldorf early childhood educators practice the art of living with the children in their care, offering protection and nurture for each child’s unfolding and for childhood itself. Waldorf grades 1-8 teachers integrate storytelling, drama, rhythmic movement, visual arts, and music into their daily work, weaving a tapestry of experience that brings each subject to life in the children’s thinking, feeling, and willing.
This method of education requires a teacher to unfold his or her own creative capacities. Waldorf Education — and Waldorf teacher education — draws upon the thinker, the artist, the scientist, the poet, the environmentalist, and the musician in every teacher, just as it does in every student.
Sunbridge Institute’s teacher education programs work out of an understanding of education and human development as a process of self-education in community. The greatest influence the educator has on the child is not through a program or method or what the teacher does, but who the teacher is, and — most importantly — who the teacher is in a process of becoming. Thus our teacher education courses are designed to provide opportunities for self-education in a supportive social, collegial context.
If you’re interested in changing the world by changing the way we educate children and would like to explore what it means to assist the human development of your students while developing as a human being yourself, we encourage you to consider applying to become a Waldorf teacher.
The overall experience has changed me in so many ways – I am more confident and have a clearer vision of who I am as a human being as well as an educator.
– Sunbridge Teacher Education student
Here are some questions prospective Sunbridge students frequently ask:
What Waldorf teacher education programs does Sunbridge offer?
At Sunbridge Institute, you can prepare to become a Waldorf early childhood educator (birth to age seven) or a Waldorf elementary class teacher (grades one through eight). Each program has different admissions requirements. We also offer specialized intensives in subjects such as Elementary Music Teaching or Grades 1-12 World Language Teaching. You can also register for one of our Summer Series or year-round courses or workshops to become more familiar with Waldorf Education and see if this vocation is right for you.
How long does it take to complete a Sunbridge teacher education program?
Each of our part-time, low-residency programs presents a different schedule. Our Early Childhood program spans 25 months, including three 3-week summer intensives, two 1-week fall intensives, and two 1-week spring intensives, for a total of 13 weeks on-campus instruction time. Our Elementary program spans 33 months, including three 3-week summer intensives, three 1-week fall intensives, and three 1-week spring intensives, for a total of 15 weeks on-campus instruction time. Our Early Childhood Completion Track spans 14 months, for a total of 8 weeks of on-campus instruction time. Our specialized subject intensives in Elementary Music and Grades 1-12 World Language teaching include a 3-week summer intensive and a 5-day observation of an experienced Waldorf teacher in your particular subject during the following school year.
What does the teacher education curriculum include?
Sunbridge’s teacher education includes a deep exploration of child and human development; development of a teacher’s contemplative capacities; exploration of pedagogical approaches and skills; studies in the arts; courses that develop abilities for working in a group of colleagues; and practical learning or mentored teaching in the classroom with experienced teachers. Please see each program’s section for complete curriculum listings.
Who enrolls in Sunbridge Teacher Education programs?
A wide cross-section of people! Sunbridge students represent a range of ages, backgrounds, and interests. For some, Waldorf teaching will be their first career; others are making a career change in search of a more meaningful and gratifying vocation. Some Sunbridge students are Waldorf school alumni, while others decided to become Waldorf teachers after being inspired by their experience as Waldorf school parents.
Former careers of recent and current Sunbridge students include:
- Social worker
- Public school principal
- Pharmaceutical sales rep
- CFO of a small business
- Speech therapist
For more information on our students, we invite you to read this recent Sunbridge blog post.
What do I receive at the end of the program?
Upon completion of either the Waldorf Early Childhood or Waldorf Elementary Teacher Education program, students are awarded a diploma in Waldorf Teacher Education. Upon completion of our specialized subject intensives, students are awarded a certificate in that particular subject.
What kind of Financial Aid is available?
Each year we look for new and additional ways to support our program students in their studies. We want to help you make this work! Please have a look at the Financial Aid page for a listing of aid available this year. Also, please feel free to get in touch with our Finance Office to explore possibilities.
Am I likely to find employment as a Waldorf school teacher?
Yes! There are nearly 1000 Waldorf schools and 2000 Waldorf kindergartens around the world. In North America, there are nearly two hundred independent Waldorf schools and early childhood programs, plus new initiatives and charter schools that incorporate aspects of Waldorf education. With only 16 Waldorf teacher education centers in all of the US, Canada, and Mexico, there are not nearly enough newly-credentialed Waldorf teachers graduating each year to meet the need for qualified Waldorf teachers.
According to the Fall/Winter 2011 issue of Renewal: A Journal for Waldorf Education published quarterly by AWSNA (the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America), “There is a drastic shortage of trained Waldorf teachers—class teachers, as well as early childhood/kindergarten… This shortage exists in North America and around the world, including in English-speaking countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, and Ireland. A graduation certificate from a Waldorf teacher education institute is a virtual guarantee of a teaching position, and, if one is so inclined, a passport to foreign lands.”
If I graduate from Sunbridge Institute and want to work at a Waldorf school in another country, will my Sunbridge diploma be recognized?
Sunbridge’s teacher education programs are fully recognized by the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA). Our Early Childhood Teacher Education Program is also fully recognized by the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America (WECAN). These credentials give your Sunbridge diploma worldwide status. However, another country might carry specific licensing requirements and/or government regulations for teachers that must be met at a state or local level. You’ll have to explore that individually.
Waldorf teaching sounds really interesting, but I don’t yet have enough information to know if this career is right for me. How can I find out more before making a commitment?
Our Summer Series courses and workshops, as well as other workshops held throughout the year, are great opportunities for you to explore what Waldorf Education and Waldorf teaching is all about. Our Waldorf Weekends will give you a complete overview of the topic, with a special emphasis on Waldorf elementary education, while Introduction to Waldorf Early Childhood Education will teach you all about the world of Waldorf early childhood education.
Sunbridge also holds outreach events throughout the year to introduce prospective students to our teacher education programs. Our twice-yearly Open Days, held in November and March, give you an opportunity to meet our program faculty and students and learn about Waldorf teacher education at Sunbridge first-hand. Check our Events page to see what we’ve got upcoming.
We also recommend that you visit a Waldorf school in your area. Most Waldorf schools offer opportunities for visitors to attend admissions events that include tours, lectures, presentations and class observations. Listings of Waldorf schools in the US and across North America may be found at waldorfeducation.org, while listings of Early Childhood programs may be found at www.waldorfearlychildhood.org.
When are your next Teacher Education programs enrolling?
Our Waldorf Elementary Teacher Education program enrolls every year; our next cohort in this program enrolls July 2017. Our Waldorf Early Childhood Teacher Education program enrolls every other year; our next cohort in this program enrolls June 2018. We also offer a Waldorf Early Childhood Teacher Education program completion track for highly experienced Waldorf early childhood educators; this program next enrolls June 2017. In July 2017, we are also enrolling our Waldorf Grades 1-12 World Language Teacher intensive. Our specialized intensive for Waldorf elementary music teachers next enrolls July 2018. Please visit our separate program pages for more information on admission requirements and the admission process.
If you have further questions, please contact us or call Helen Lee, our Admissions and Summer Series Coordinator, at 845-425-0055 x20.