Sunbridge Institute’s teacher education programs work out of an understanding of education and human development as a process of self-education in community. Our teacher education classes are designed to provide opportunities for self-education in a supportive social, collegial context.
Teacher education at Sunbridge Institute 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.
Our programs are designed to draw upon and build creative capacities, developing the thinker, the artist, the scientist, the poet, the environmentalist, and the musician that lives within each of us, just as Waldorf educators draw upon and nuture these capacities within each child.
At Sunbridge, you can prepare to become a Waldorf educator for ages birth-to-seven through our Early Childhood Teacher Education diploma program, a Waldorf grades-1-8 class teacher through our Elementary Teacher Education diploma program, or a Waldorf subject teacher through our specialized certificate intensives in World Language Teacher Education or Elementary Music Teacher Education. (These specialized subject teacher intensives may also be combined with our Elementary Teacher Education program.) For experienced Waldorf early childhood and elementary educators wishing to apply their background toward earning a Sunbridge diploma we offer an Early Childhood Completion Track and an Elementary Completion Track. Early Childhood and Elementary students and graduates who possess bachelor’s degrees have the option of applying their Sunbridge studies toward earning a fully-accredited MEd from Empire State College of the State University of New York.
Sunbridge’s teacher education offerings are low-residency, requiring infrequent, yet sustained on-campus study. This format accommodates working adults and allows for an important give-and-take between time in a Sunbridge classroom and time in a Waldorf teaching setting, each enhancing the other. This schedule also makes it possible for students from all over the country—and the world—to enroll here, broadening and enlivening our student experience. Our Early Childhood and Elementary programs entail a total of 13 and 15 weeks of on-campus study over the course of 25 and 33 months, respectively, while our Completion Tracks are designed to be completed in a shorter time frame. Our specialized subject intensives require one three-week-long, on-campus summer study and one week-long teacher observation in the following school year. Please see our individual program pages for specific formats and schedules.
Our Elementary Teacher Education program (both full and completion tracks) enrolls every July. Early Childhood Teacher Education and its completion track alternate every-other-June enrollment. Our two specialized subject offerings alternate every-other-July enrollment. Applications are posted October 1 of the fall prior to enrollment. Please visit our separate program pages for specific enrollment dates as well as information on our admission requirements and application process, including special instructions for international students.
Students coming to Sunbridge represent a wide range of ages, backgrounds, and interests. Many are already working in Waldorf classrooms, while some are brand-new to teaching (or to Waldorf teaching). Some are young people embarking on their first career; others are more seasoned adults, many looking to make a mid-career change. Some are Waldorf school graduates themselves and some are Waldorf parents inspired by their children’s experience. Many students come to us from a background in other educational philosophies.
Former careers of recent Sunbridge students include:
- Social worker
- Public school principal
- Pharmaceutical sales rep
- CFO of a small business
- Speech therapist
There are nearly 1,000 Waldorf schools and 2,000 Waldorf early childhood programs located throughout the world, including about 170 Waldorf schools and 250 Waldorf early childhood in the US, plus additional initiatives, early childhood programs, and charter schools that incorporate aspects of Waldorf Education. However, 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 nationwide and worldwide need for qualified English-speaking 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.”
A majority of Sunbridge program students are offered Waldorf teaching positions prior to their Sunbridge graduation; by graduation time, virtually everyone wishing to teach in a Waldorf school has been offered a job.
Sunbridge’s teacher education programs are fully recognized by AWSNA, and 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, because specific licensing requirements and/or government regulations for teachers vary from state-to-state in the US and from country to country, it is important to research these appropriate regulations and requirements.
Find Out More
If you would like to further investigate Waldorf Education and Waldorf teaching, Sunbridge’s Open Days and Waldorf Weekend workshops are great opportunities for you, as is our Introduction to Waldorf Early Childhood Education Summer Series course. See our Events Calendar for upcoming dates of these and other relevant workshops, courses, and events.
Visiting a Waldorf school in your area is also a good way to learn more about Waldorf teaching. 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.
A Sunbridge article in the Fall 2016 issue of Lilipoh magazine is a place to read about Waldorf teaching and teacher education (focusing on grades teaching).
If you have any questions, we encourage you to contact our admissions office at 845-425-0055 x20.