If they were a baseball team, they’d be batting 1.000. Not only did every Master of Arts in Teaching graduate in Earlham’s 2015 class land a teaching job this fall, several entertained multiple offers.
“Graduates in our last cohort were employed in New York, Missouri, Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana,” says Becky Dimick Eastman ’97, assistant director of graduate programs in education. “Our math person turned down four jobs.”
Princess Darnell ’12 M.A.T. ’15, turned down two offers before landing at Northeastern High School in 2015. She was social studies teacher and head varsity girls basketball coach, and now serves as an Admission Counselor at Earlham.
“A big part of it was that I had strong interview skills,” Darnell says. “Because of the M.A.T. program, I had important things to talk about during the interview — my action research, scaffolding, short cycle assessment, backward design, diversity. Also, it seemed that I was more experienced than the other applicants because I had spent way more time in the classroom.”
Earlham’s M.A.T., which began in 2002, is an intensive 11-month program that uses the cohort model, which means the entire group takes the same courses at the same time.
“I liked that I could get a master’s in 11 months, and at the time I was looking, the program had a 95 percent job placement rate,” Darnell remembers. “I really liked the idea of going through the process in a small cohort where we could learn from one another and through each other’s experiences.”
Students begin the program in June with theory and education psychology courses. There’s a two-week practicum with middle school students during the summer, and the MAT students are in their student teaching classrooms on the first day of class in August.
“During the fall, they participate in team teaching, but by January the student teacher has taken the lead in the classroom,” Eastman explains. “Most teacher preparation programs send their faculty out to observe their student teachers three or four times, but we believe in the coaching model of supervision and observe our students 15-20 times. We are also very intentional about helping our students prepare for employment. In January we start talking about résumés, and we ask them where they want to teach so we can help them along in that as well.”
The group also attends Teacher Candidate Interview Day in Indianapolis each spring with 50-100 school districts with teaching needs also in attendance.
“It is mostly practice for interviewing, but a few get their jobs that day,” Eastman says.
Darnell also notes that the program leaders are really good at preparing the M.A.T. students for the classroom.
“They work really well together to make us the best teachers that we can be,” Darnell explains. This includes being familiar with the different kinds of assessments and methods, as well as digital technology.
Before when you sought knowledge you went to a book or a wise person,” Darnell explains. “Now every kid has the answer at his or her fingertips. We teach them to think critically at a higher level. You have the answer; now what are you going to do with it? How are you going to use it?”
Darnell, says Eastman, is typical of the type of teacher the MAT program produces.
“We attract students who are interested in being change agents in their schools and take on leadership roles,” Eastman says.