To become an elementary school teacher, VCU students declare the Liberal Studies for Early and Elementary Education major (LSEE). The major is the undergraduate portion of the five-year Extended Teacher Preparation Program. The LSEE major requires a minimum of 120 credits within a pre-professional program that combines in the Extended Teacher Preparation Program with the Master of Teaching (M.T.) offered by the School of Education. Successful completion of the LSEE major results in a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies degree, which is awarded simultaneously with the M.T.
In response to recommendations from experienced teachers, school systems, national studies and the Virginia Mathematics and Science Coalition the program requires substantially more mathematics than previously had been the case. In particular, majors complete a general education mathematics course, three mathematics courses and a statistics course designed specifically to meet the needs of prospective K-5 teachers, as well as a mathematics methods course offered as a part of the M.T.
The mathematics courses (Numbers and Operations, Algebra and Functions, and Investigations in Geometry) are designed to help prospective teachers develop an in-depth understanding of school mathematics. The courses feature the big ideas of school mathematics and how teachers and children develop these ideas. As a part of the mathematics courses, prospective teachers conduct four interviews with school children. The interviews are not lessons. Rather, they provide a means to help future teachers understand student mathematical thinking.
The courses were developed by Aimee Ellington and Joy Whitenack and have been taught by these faculty members and Bill Haver, as well as by instructors Toni Sorrel, Kristina Anthony, and Heather Nunnally who have extensive K-8 teaching experience. Aimee Ellington and Bill Haver serve on the LSEE Steering Committee that developed the program and is now overseeing its implementation.