The Board of Trustees recently approved a new undergraduate degree in Elementary Education to be offered in the Department of Teacher Education Theory and Practice of the College of Education, Health and Humanities at UT Knoxville.
Jennifer Jordan, Elementary Education Coordinator and Clinical Associate Professor of Elementary Education and Literacy at CEHHS, explained how the new education degree came about and what it aims to achieve.
âBy listening to our school partners and analyzing the available data, we determined that applicants would benefit from increased courses in cultural studies, literacy, English as a second language and special education,â Jordan said. âThe essence of the program is to integrate content and clinical experiences in a way that builds intensity and expectations throughout the college and university career of the teacher candidate.
David Cihak, Professor of Special Education and Associate Dean at CEHHS, further explained the need for the new major.
âThe elementary education major was developed in response to the local, state and national needs of a larger number of teachers,â Cihak said. âIt is essential that future educators develop knowledge, skills and practices to be highly effective and meet the educational needs of all learners. â¦ The new major in elementary education offers future educators the opportunity to develop the breadth and depth of professional skills, attitudes and dispositions to meet the ever-changing educational needs of the next generation of citizens.
As part of the five-year degree, students will follow a general curriculum in the first year, introductory courses in the second year, more specialized courses with clinical experiences in the third and fourth years, and complete the degree with an internship. one year at graduate level. The internship includes clinical experience in general education as well as in a particular specialization, such as English as a second language, early literacy settings or special education. Graduates of the program will receive a dual Tennessee teaching license in elementary and special education or elementary and English language learners.
Jordan noted that the degree will instill in students the knowledge and skills necessary to be effective educators. She further explained that the new major seeks to engage students not only through academics and courses, but also through deep experiential learning, which includes 60 hours of internship and 800 hours of internship.
âTeacher candidates learn alongside teachers in the classroom because they co-teach on a daily basis. â¦ We place our applicants in very disadvantaged schools located in urban and rural areas of eastern Tennessee, âJordan said. âWe not only prepare our students for pedagogy (SPED, ESL, reading) but also culturally prepare them to teach children whose backgrounds tend to be different from theirsâ¦ through our program we instill in them a perspective of social justice. and encourage them to accept employment in high needs fields (domain and geography).
This mission of creating career-ready educators who would then be able to serve Tennessee students from all walks of life across the state is something that fits in with UT’s mission as a university of the state.
âAs a flagship land grant university, it is imperative that we meet and meet the needs of all TennessÃ©ens. There is a critical shortage of teachers statewide and we need to make sure all children in Tennessee have a professional teacher, âCihak said. “A teacher ensures that each child maximizes their talents, imagination, skills and character and becomes an active member of Tennessee civic and economic life.”
Regarding advice for students considering pursuing the new major in elementary education, Jordan recommends that interested applicants volunteer with the children to gain some understanding of what a job as a teacher is. Cihak explained that the degree is well suited for someone seeking to positively inspire posterity.
“UT Teacher Preparation Program graduates are prepared to work in 21st century, ever-changing and multicultural schools and classrooms to improve opportunities and outcomes for Tennessee children,” Cihak said. âIf you want to inspire generations of change, become a teacher. I recommend one person to apply and start the journey to positively impact the future of our community, state, and the world.