Program prepares math and science majors for classroom
An innovative program named UALRTeach begins this fall, which gives students majoring in math or science the opportunity to learn from mentor teachers, receive experience of teaching at school and earn a teaching license while working towards their degree.
UALRTeach is replication of the program that was initiated at the University of Texas at Austin, along with other universities that later joined. Since Arkansas needs teachers, especially in math and science, the program’s arrival at UALR seems to be really well-judged and well-timed.
“We are excited about the UALRTeach,” program co-director James Fetterly said. “Whether students want to go into the teaching field or if they want to go into laboratory, it’s one degree with unlimited opportunities.”
The program consists of two one-credit courses – Inquiry Approaches to Teaching in the fall and Inquiry-Based Lesson Design offered in the spring. UALRTeach Program Master Teacher Kelly Chaney explained that the main idea of the program is the use of inquiry methods and getting students to do lots of hands-on exploration in math and science.
During the first semester, students will be observing the work of a teacher at a local elementary school and then will teach two classes themselves. They will be given all the tools they need to be able to go into the classroom and conduct a successful class for the next semester, the course will be dealing with middle school and junior high classroom. Students will be learning different techniques of classroom management but still using inquiry methods and hands-on learning.
UALRTeach is hoping to work this semester with the King Elementary School in Little Rock and the program is gaining relationships with some other schools for the spring semester. Both of these courses offer tuition credit on the bills for next semester for those students who have a grade of C or better at the end of each course.
So basically, they could be free for a student. After graduation, students “will have more avenues and more paths that they can travel down,” Assistant Director Michelle Buchanan said. Also, minor in education will provide students skills of communication and collaboration and also opportunity to compete.
“The job openings are there, they just need people to fill them,” Chaney said. “And you can’t say that in a lot of areas today.”
The program is also really meeting the needs of those students who are in high school and know they can do math and science but don’t have a teacher to help them. “You can be a hero, a favorite teacher for school students,” Buchanan said, explaining that science teacher often becomes for students a hero of the campus because he or she makes interesting projects and experiments.
“Just because you are a teacher doesn’t mean that all you do is stand in front of a classroom and lecture or set up a lab and do a lab with students in science or math,” Chaney said.
Teachers can make research, travel and learn about education in other countries. Opportunities for them are great and a lot of this is not publicized to students going into education. UALRTeach courses can be taken by undergraduate or graduate students.