VCU has an exemplary program to prepare students to teach mathematics in grades 6-12. In a carefully designed five year program prospective teachers complete a B.S. in Mathematical Sciences with a secondary teacher preparation concentration and a Master’s of Teaching Degree offered by the School of Education focusing on teaching mathematics.
Undergraduate students in the program complete courses in the core required of all mathematics majors including single and multivariate calculus, statistics, linear algebra, mathematical reasoning, and analysis. In addition they complete additional courses that are specifically designed for prospective 6-12 mathematics teachers: Algebraic Structures and Functions, Modern Geometry, History of Mathematics and Using Technology in the Teaching of Mathematics. Each of these courses specifically relates topics in advanced collegiate mathematics to the secondary school curriculum.
During the first semester of the fifth year in the program prospective teachers are hired as adjunct instructors to teach break-out sections of Mathematics 131, Introduction to Contemporary Mathematics. This is a general education mathematics course that is taken by undergraduate students in majors that do not require calculus. The students in the course attend a weekly large lecture taught by a member of VCU’s faculty and then two weekly smaller classes taught by the adjunct instructors in the teacher preparation program. For most individuals this is their first teaching experience; they attend the large lecture and then a weekly seminar/planning session during which they discuss the previous week’s classes and teaching strategies for next week’s classes. Materials are provided, tests and quizzes are created by the VCU faculty member, and the adjunct instructors are provided with suggestions on how to conduct their classes, addressing particular topics that students find challenging. The department and the adjunct instructors report that this is an excellent teaching opportunity for the prospective 6-12 teachers. In addition, they are paid the adjunct teacher salary for their work.