UTeach from the Principal's Perspective
If you were a middle- or high-school principal looking to fill vacant teaching positions in math and science, what attributes would the ideal candidate possess? Would they have strong content knowledge in their field? Or will they have completed a rigorous practicum that involves early field experience with extensive hands-on training in lesson design and myriad opportunities to develop as an education professional before even graduating from college? UTeach graduates have all of those qualities.
In a recent interview, UTeach Austin Master Teacher Pamela Powell said, “Our graduates are amazing. I have evidence of it every day. They are the best student teachers. People call me constantly, asking, ‘Who do you have for a job, can you place one of them with me?’ They’re highly sought after even before they are cooked. In fact, I often say, ‘You have to wait until they’re done cooking!’”
We spoke to a number of middle school and high school principals across the country who recognize what UTeach program graduates bring to their schools in terms of content knowledge, pedagogy, and professionalism, and who actively seek out UTeach graduates to join their school faculties, enthusiastically waiting for the next batch of STEM teachers to emerge from their programs and start teaching.
Because UTeach is designed specifically for STEM majors, our graduates enter their classrooms with both a degree in their chosen field and a secondary teaching credential. The result is a workforce of educators with expertise in their content field, from chemistry to computer science. “Our UTeach teachers are very highly skilled in their content area,” says Alberto Canales, Principal of McAllen High School in McAllen, Texas.
“I’ve never questioned their depth or breadth of knowledge in their core subject areas,” concurs Desmond Cole, Principal of Nims Middle School in Tallahassee, Florida.
In addition to the rigorous STEM instruction our graduates receive, they also get clinically intensive experience, with students getting hands-on classroom experience as early as their freshman year. As such, they start their careers equipped with the classroom management and administrative tools they would have otherwise had to acquire through on-the-job experience.
“The students are getting everything. When they come into an internship or have their own classroom, they are totally prepared from a planning perspective,” says Cole. “I love the fact that before these folks get into the classrooms, they have all these varied experiences. It prepares them for every little thing that they’re going to be able to see; the experiences they’ve had have prepared them for us.”
Jessica Bennett, principal of Bradshaw Mountain Middle School in Arizona, agrees. “The NAUTeach students have the background and foundation so that you don’t have to explain what an IEP is, you don’t have to explain intervention—simple things that we take for granted from our graduates that are common sense in education.”
Many aspects of the UTeach program are attractive to different people, but for principals looking to hire teachers, our graduates’ strong content knowledge and intensive field experience give them a distinct advantage.
“When I’m looking at the list of applicants and I go through their qualifications and I see FSUTeach on there, they’re definitely going to get an interview,” says Cole. “I’m reaching out to them before I reach out to anyone else.”