Welcome to College Confidential!

The leading college-bound community on the web

Sign Up For Free

Join for FREE, and start talking with other members, weighing in on community discussions, and more.

Also, by registering and logging in you'll see fewer ads and pesky welcome messages (like this one!)

As a CC member, you can:

  • Reply to threads, and start your own.
  • Post reviews of your campus visits.
  • Find hundreds of pages of informative articles.
  • Search from over 3 million scholarships.
Please take a moment to read our updated TOS, Privacy Policy, and Forum Rules.

Better Ed or Math Dept for teaching?

ILMom13579ILMom13579 Registered User Posts: 297 Junior Member
Please feel free to move this thread if there is a better location...D19 wants to be a secondary math teacher - should be focusing more on the math department or the education dept in terms of best schools/rigor, etc when doing our college search? We are also looking at Midwestern schools (IL, WI, IA, MI, IN) if it makes any difference.
«13

Replies to: Better Ed or Math Dept for teaching?

  • 3puppies3puppies Registered User Posts: 1,076 Senior Member
    In general, I'd say search for a better Education department. There are lots of horrible math teachers who majored in math themselves, but, especially if the goal is to be a secondary math teacher, where the math isn't all that hard, what will be more important is learning how to reach kids of different abilities and learning styles.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 62,991 Senior Member
    Check the teacher credentialing requirements of the state or region she wants to teach in.

    Some schools may offer a specific program or option for those intending to teach high school math; other schools may not offer such, but have the needed course work available as electives.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 62,991 Senior Member
    3puppies wrote:
    if the goal is to be a secondary math teacher, where the math isn't all that hard, what will be more important is learning how to reach kids of different abilities and learning styles.

    A high school math teacher may have to be able to handle students ranging from those struggling with remedial pre-algebra to honors students who thought that calculus BC was an easy A and 5 in 11th grade or earlier and may take more advanced math. So both content knowledge and teaching skills are important.
  • bopperbopper Registered User Posts: 8,073 Senior Member
    My daughter wanted to be a math teacher. She majored in math and then did a master's for secondary math education. See if they have a 3-2 program for that. I encouraged her to emphasize the math part because then if she doesn't like teaching she has the math degree that she can do something with. She is currently liking being a math teacher.

    She was considering this program (but decided to go to Columbia Teachers College)
    https://www.binghamton.edu/tlel/academics/pre-service/math-ba-mat.html

    For your average teacher, having a masters when you start might be too expensive for a school...but math teachers are more in demand.
  • bopperbopper Registered User Posts: 8,073 Senior Member
  • wis75wis75 Registered User Posts: 12,375 Senior Member
    edited September 5
    Son's HS AP calculus teacher once told me he was one course shy of also having the math major (at UW), but it would have meant an extra semester. Son, a college honors math major, considered him a good teacher. I still remember one good HS math teacher who had students telling him they solved a problem differently- I more easily followed their explanation than he did.

    Many students prefer schools other than the flagship for teacher education. It looks like your D is interested in the flagships. These will have strong math programs. Be warned that getting into teaching at UW is competitive, not a given. Once students are accepted they know they will get their needed classes in a timely fashion. I suspect this is not a worrisome point for your D.

    I would plan a college schedule to meet both math and education major requirements. Perhaps also looking into computer science courses to be eligible to teach those in a HS. UW had a CS certificate which recognized a certain amount of CS without enough for a major (no minors at UW, only comprehensive majors).
  • zoosermomzoosermom Registered User Posts: 25,962 Senior Member
    New York and Pennsylvania require an undergraduate degree in the subject area, but you need a strong enough education program to have student teaching and other field work readily available.
  • rebeccarrebeccar Registered User Posts: 2,047 Senior Member
    I'd say having an excellent teaching education is much more beneficial than an excellent content area background. For one thing, on my interviews, nobody ever asked me about literary elements but I was always asked about how I'd differentiate for different types of learners, my approach to classroom management, etc. Content knowledge is a surprisingly small part of how I get rated as a teacher - the rest on the rubric is teaching skills. And realistically, if someone has strong teaching skills, they could teach a variety of content areas. Ex. someone who majored in environmental science might be asked to teach anatomy, and if you hold a special ed certification, you can be asked to teach English, Math, Science, or Social Studies no matter what you majored in. The level that is taught in high school just really doesn't justify needing a degree from a highly ranked college program in the content.
  • juilletjuillet Super Moderator Posts: 11,599 Super Moderator
    Both? But the education department is going to be where her career and networking opportunities will be focused, so consider that too. A good education department may have more connections in better schools where she can do student teaching and potentially get her job.
  • cobratcobrat Registered User Posts: 12,285 Senior Member
    edited September 5
    While one doesn't necessarily need a tippy-top elite program for math, a solidly respectable math or math related program is critical for someone hoping to become a reasonably good math teacher.

    One doesn't want to end up like some public K-12 teachers some neighborhood friends or middle school classmates experienced who while having majored in the content field in question, were visibly struggling to stay one step ahead of a middle school class.

    And it's worse for those whose teachers were pressed into service in a field separate from what their undergrad major/or related fields were because of staffing shortages for those fields*. And that's despite the fact even 20+ years ago, that wasn't supposed to happen officially, but the practical reality on the ground was a different story.


    * Similarly, this issue also sometimes extends to higher-education due to staffing shortages and/or higher-ed politics as some college classmates found when they had a Prof whose PhD was in a completely unrelated field than the department he ended up being placed in because his original home department was closed down several years before I arrived and he was a long-time tenured Prof who needed to be placed somewhere.

    Not surprisingly, when older classmates found I was interested in taking some courses in the department where this Prof was teaching, i was told the background story and warned to avoid taking his courses at all costs. This was only reinforced when an older college classmate ended up taking his course to fulfill a quant requirement and found the Prof meant well...but was clearly out of his element and confused most of the class.
  • zoosermomzoosermom Registered User Posts: 25,962 Senior Member
    The level that is taught in high school just really doesn't justify needing a degree from a highly ranked college program in the content.
    I think this has to be balanced and assessed based on where the person wants to teach. Some teaching markets are saturated, so the competition is very tough and credentials matter (as do connections), and Teach for America and similar programs only take very highly-credentialed applicants, which makes the hiring market tighter in some places.
    And realistically, if someone has strong teaching skills, they could teach a variety of content areas. Ex. someone who majored in environmental science might be asked to teach anatomy, and if you hold a special ed certification, you can be asked to teach English, Math, Science, or Social
    True. My D is a middle school special ed teacher, but her undergraduate degrees were in history and economics. This is her fifth year, and the first time she will be teaching history as one of her subjects - she was maneuvered to ELA when she was hired and has subsequently earned additional credentials in that area, although it wasn't her original major.
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 63,510 Senior Member
    In my state...secondary teachers MUST major in their content area in college. Then the education requirements are added in.

    Any of the colleges will have math majors. You need to also see where they place their student teachers, and what kind of job placement record the school has.

    Math teachers are currently a shortage area in some states.

    Your daughter needs a good balance of math...and education. It's not either or.

    Also, if she knows where she plans to live, it's easiest if she gets her degree in that state...as long as the college fulfills what is required for teacher certification.

  • tutumom2001tutumom2001 Registered User Posts: 568 Member
    As a parent with a child who transferred from a charter school that preferred a degree in the subject area to a traditional public school that preferred the education degree, I think we're going to see a push more toward the charter-school content preference, especially in STEM classes. And while there are ways to obtain alternative certification (I have maintained teaching credentials despite never having actually taught), my recommendation to someone wanting to teach secondary math would be to get the bachelor's degree in math and then a master's in education (or even a doctorate).
  • yearstogoyearstogo Registered User Posts: 298 Junior Member
    By far the best math teachers we have seen are those that have majored in math. Education majors are probably fine for K-3...
  • ILMom13579ILMom13579 Registered User Posts: 297 Junior Member
    Thank you all for your thoughts, suggestions and direction - it is all so helpful! In doing preliminary research we have found:

    1. Many states have reciprocity of some sort when it comes to teaching credentials so going to school in one state and then hopping over to another is sometimes just a matter of re-testing in that state to get certified. MI and WI are ones that do not offer this, however, so we are carefully considering schools in those states and what impact living/learning/earning would be there.

    2. The huge difference from school to school on what constitutes a secondary education teacher degree and where they place their emphasis...math or education, outside teaching opportunities or class room instruction - hence the original question. We have only seen a few that require a double major in math and education. Most require Math to be the major and then they add on education classes. And we have been finding in general that the amount of outside teaching/learning hours are based on the State BofE requirements so schools in some states have many more opportunities to student teach than others, giving us another level to wade through.

    D does not know where she wants to live after she gets her degree, but given that math teachers are in some degree of demand in most states (excluding Illinois of course!), we are keeping options open for the moment. Given all that has been discussed above, I agree that finding a good education department with lots of opportunities for outside classroom learning/student teaching, etc. would be a good place to start. She is strong in math and picks it up rather easily so learning to teach and doing it well with all levels of student abilities should be more of a primary goal of the schools we look at.

    Thanks again for all the feedback - we've got lots to consider in the next year!
«13
Sign In or Register to comment.