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5 6 8 3 2 m o d e l e d a f t e r t h e h i g h l y s u c c e s s f u l U T e a c h p r o g r a m e s t a b l i s h e d a t t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f T e x a s a t A u s t i n i n 1 9 9 7 . T h e N a t i o n a l M a t h a n d S c i e n c e I n i t i a t i v e a w a r d e d $ 2 . 4 m i l l i o n f u n d e d b y E x x o n M o b i l , w h i l e t h e H e l i o s E d u c a t i o n F o u n d a t i o n c o n t r i b u t e d a n a d d i t i o n a l $ 1 m i l l i o n t o w a r d t h e i n i t i a t i v e . T h e p r o g r a m w i l l g i v e s t u d e n t s a n o p p o r t u n i t y t o s t e p i n t o t h e c l a s s r o o m a n d g a i n r e a l - w o r l d e x p e r i e n c e . T h r o u g h l e c t u r e s , c o u r s e - w o r k a n d i n t e r a c t i o n , t h e y r e a b l e t o t r y o u t t e a c h i n g w i t h o u t m a k i n g a fi r m c o m m i t m e n t t o t h e p r o f e s s i o n . I t s a p r o v e n a p p r o a c h . A t t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f T e x a s , t h e s u c c e s s r a t e h a s b e e n p h e n o m e n a l . S i n c e i t s i n c e p - t i o n , m o r e t h a n 4 0 0 s t u d e n t s h a v e g r a d u a t e d f r o m U T e a c h a n d , o v e r a l l , o n e - q u a r t e r o f s c i e n c e a n d m a t h s t u d e n t s e x p r e s s i n t e r e s t i n t e a c h i n g . I n f a c t , t h e p r o - g r a m h a s d o u b l e d t h e n u m b e r o f s e c o n d a r y m a t h a n d s c i e n c e t e a c h e r s g r a d u a t i n g f r o m t h e s c h o o l . T h e p r o g r a m h a s a h i s t o r y o f s u c c e s s . I t i m p a c t s p e o p l e a n d s o c i e t y i n a r e a l w a y , s a y s J u l i e G e s s - N e w s o m e , d i r e c t o r o f t h e C e n t e r f o r S c i e n c e T e a c h i n g a n d L e a r n i n g a t N A U . B e y o n d C l a s s S t r u g g l e s I t s n o t a n u n d e r s t a t e m e n t t o s a y t h a t A m e r i c a s f u t u r e d e p e n d s o n i t s a b i l i t y t o p r o m o t e l e a r n i n g i n t h e s c i e n c e s . A s c o u n t r i e s l i k e C h i n a , I n d i a a n d K o r e a p l a y a m o r e d o m i n a n t r o l e i n t h e w o r l d s e c o n o m y , t h e c o m p e t i t i o n f o r t h e s m a r t e s t a n d t h e b e s t t a l e n t i s h e a t i n g u p . T h e a b i l i t y t o e n g i n e e r m o r e s o p h i s t i c a t e d t e c h n o l o g y , u n r a v e l t h e h u m a n g e n o m e , s o l v e g l o b a l w a r m i n g i s s u e s , a n d a d d r e s s a s l e w o f o t h e r c h a l - l e n g e s , w i l l d e t e r m i n e q u a l i t y o f l i f e a n d t h e s t a n d a r d o f l i v i n g i n t h e y e a r s a h e a d . N o t s u r p r i s i n g l y , l e a r n i n g s p i n s a t i g h t o r b i t a r o u n d a c h i e v e m e n t . . . a n d s u c c e s s . O v e r t h e l a s t q u a r t e r c e n t u r y , t h e p i c t u r e h a s n t l o o k e d p a r t i c u - larly attractive. Unfortunately, “America was once a leader in math and science education, but its position

“The program has a h i s t o r y o f s u c c e s s . I t i m p a c t s p e o p l e a n d s o c i e t y i n a r e a l w a y . — Julie Gess-Newsome, Director of the Center for Science Teaching and Learning at NAU

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Spring 2008 I naualumni.com

has steadily and drastically eroded,” observes NAU President John Haeger. “Today we rank 24th out of 29 industrialized countries. [We must] reverse this trend to ensure our ongoing competitiveness in a knowledge-based economy.”

That’s the aim of NAUTeach. Math and science majors at NAU receive an invitation to participate in the program, which lets them earn one credit for practice teaching at a primary school and an addition- al credit at a middle or high school. These freshmen and sophomores work in teams of two or three, and teach the lessons over a semester. Along the way, they observe learning environments, work with a mentor teacher to develop lessons, and actually teach the curriculum.

The program is carefully designed to help students gain confidence and knowledge as they teach and work with younger students.

“The great thing,” says Gess-Newsome, “is that at the primary school level the students love you and look at you as a real teacher. So, it’s a great introduc- tion and there’s immediate buy-in.” Yet the program is also valuable for science and math majors who aren’t sure about teaching but want to give it a try. They’re able to steer in a different direction before making a major commitment.

On their way to a teaching credential, partici- pating NAU students take a series of three-credit courses that provide insight into teaching and learn- ing styles, modeling techniques, research methods and classroom interaction. They also head out on a field trip with students. “We might visit the Grand Canyon for two days and explore science in there,” Gess-Newsome says. “It’s an opportunity to put theory into action in the real world and do it in a fun and exciting setting.”

Formula for Success The idea for UTeach came from Mary Ann Rankin, dean of the College of Natural Sciences at the Uni- versity of Texas. A decade ago, she recognized that the model for finding math and science teachers in primary and secondary schools was broken. Too often, graduates from fields as diverse as music, his- tory and biology were lumped together in teaching preparation programs that were generic. Instead of spending time figuring out how to teach genet- ics or discuss how silicon-based circuits work, they focused on learning the basics of lecturing, grading and other routine tasks.

The College of Natural Sciences set out to develop a model program that would take teacher develop- ment into the 21st century.

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