TEAM-UP Program: Get Your Teaching Degree at Mines

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Engineering is not for everyone. Not every student who walks onto the CSM campus falls in love with the rigorous, highly technical, and difficult job of engineering. But what do students do if they are at Mines and come to the realization that engineering may not be right for them?

In the fall of 2015, Mines began a partnership with the University of Northern Colorado (UNC) to create a program called the Teacher Education Alliance Mines-UNC Partnership or TEAM-UP.

TEAM-UP addresses the deficit of STEM teachers in the US and provides a path for engineers to get their teaching degrees while still getting a technical degree at Mines. The classes are either online or provided on the Mines campus for easy access. Students who complete the program will graduate both with a degree from CSM and, after a semester of student teaching, can apply for a teaching license with the state of Colorado and begin teaching.

“There is a huge shortage of STEM teachers in the US and Mines is a great untapped resource,” says Kristine Callan, Associate Professor in the Physics Department. “Mines students have a very high respect for teachers and educators whether or not they want to become teachers themselves.” TEAM-UP was created when the deans of both CSM and UNC saw an opportunity for partnership.

For Mines, this program is an opportunity to retain students who no longer want to pursue an engineering degree but are still passionate about STEM subjects. For UNC, the result of the program is more Colorado teachers. The TEAM-UP program is run by co-directors Kristine Callan, Wendy Adams, and Christy Moroye along with the Lead Teacher in Residence Stephanie Fanselow .

Fanselow expressed that the purpose of the program is, “Providing a route to become secondary math and science teachers opens up another avenue for students at Mines who may not feel that engineering is the right fit for them.”

Moroye added that she “enjoys supporting students as they learn to look behind the ‘curtain’ to see the depth and complexity of what it means to teach well in the STEM disciplines.”

“Any student who has an ‘itch to teach’ is the perfect fit for this program,” says Callan. Prospective students do not have to be a TA or a CASA tutor, although Callan admits that is what she did all through high school and college. “When I was in high school I was the kid who tutored all the other kids for fun. I’ve always loved teaching.”

Adams added, “The nation’s best and brightest should be math and science teachers to provide the best education to our children.  Mines has some  of the nation’s best and brightest!” Students who join the program will jump right into the teaching role in the Early Field Experience class. Students are paired up with a teacher from a local middle or high school and help out for two to five hours in the classroom.

“I was pretty sure I wanted to be a teacher before I took this class, but this class has helped other people figure out if they want to actually pursue the program,” explained Senior Nicholas Dyer. Dyer also called Early Field Experience one of his favorite courses. He explained that additional courses such as Education Psychology and Conceptions of Schooling focus on helping students learn how others learn and the structure of schooling in the US.

A project in Educational Psychology last semester had students trying to teach the famous troublemaker Calvin from the comic strip “Calvin and Hobbes,” an activity that helped students devise techniques for tougher students. Both classes count as LAIS mid-level electives.

Because the program is run through CSM, students involved in it do not have to pay any extra tuition except during summer classes when the price is $400 per credit, per UNC standards.

Last spring the TEAM-UP program was given 1.2 million dollars by the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program, an NSF grant program. This money is being given straight to the students through internships and scholarships.

“I joined the program because I wanted to do something impactful with my major,” says senior Alyssa Rozendaal, “The people involved are always ready to answer questions and help… it’s one of the most welcoming experiences I’ve had on campus.”

Nicholas Dyer adds, “I have used almost everything I have learned so far in the classroom in some way.” Students interested in the program can contact Dr. Callan via email at kcallan@mines.edu. There will be an information session about the program on November 9.

Regarding the pay for teaching, Callan says, “Of course we’d like them to get more, but it’s not nearly as bad as people think. If you start teaching at 22 you can retire as soon as 56 and receive 90% of your highest salary as pension.” And in the end, many find that it is not all about the money. A survey of physics professionals showed that teachers have the highest job satisfaction.

Callan calls it a “rewarding and happy career.”

Fanselow expressed, “Many higher paying math and science careers do not allow much time or energy for a personal life. Teaching provides a good balance between a rewarding profession and an enjoyable personal life.”

Moroye added, “my favorite part of being involved with the program is helping Mines students see teaching as a rewarding and inspirational career that requires rigorous inquiry and diligent study.”

“I joined the program because I wanted to do something impactful with my major,” says senior Alyssa Rozendaal, “The people involved are always ready to answer questions and help… it’s one of the most welcoming experiences I’ve had on campus.”

Nicholas Dyer adds, “I have used almost everything I have learned so far in the classroom in some way.” Students interested in the program can contact Dr. Callan via email at kcallan@mines.edu. There will be an information session about the program on November 9th. Look for more information about this event in the Daily Blast in late October.




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