SFSU Public Affairs Press ReleasePublished by the Public Affairs Office at San Francisco State University, Diag Center.
SAN FRANCISCO, April 12, 2000 ---To help meet the demand for 300,000 new teachers in California over the next decade, San Francisco State University has launched a new program that allows freshmen students to earn both their bachelor's degree and teaching credential in four years, a year sooner than traditional teacher training programs.
Two dozen SFSU freshmen on the fast track to become schoolteachers are already in San Francisco elementary schools observing veteran teachers and helping out in the classroom.
"We hope that this program is not only going to help us train teachers faster, but also help produce teachers who are better prepared. The students are seeing and experiencing first-hand what it is like to be a teacher today," said Pat Gallagher, one of the directors of the new program and associate professor of elementary education at S.F. State.
The current method of training teachers --- four years to earn a bachelor's degree and another year for a teaching credential --- doesn't work, critics say, because students do not spend enough time in real classrooms.
But in SFSU's new Liberal Studies Integrated Teacher Education Program, students spend time in real classrooms throughout their studies.
The program's results have been encouraging, said Gallagher. "All of the students have received positive evaluations from their mentoring teachers. In many cases, the contributions of these freshmen are comparable to those of our older, post-graduate students in the Multiple Subjects program. They have integrated themselves well into the classroom community."
The freshmen in SFSU's new teacher education program are quickly learning the art of teaching through classroom experience that starts in the first few weeks of their freshmen year.
"I have already learned that you have to have a good deal of patience," said Veronica Lima, 18, about the fourth graders she works with at Jose Ortega Elementary School in the Oceanview-Ingleside District.
Angela Hom, who spent last fall teaching reading to kindergarten students at Lakeshore Elementary School, said she is already getting a solid head start on becoming a teacher. "What we learn in our classes at State, we can apply to our fieldwork in our schools immediately," said the 18-year-old.
This spring the students are all taking a class in elementary school physical education and will plan a lesson in the subject at their schools. Last fall, they did the same in music.
The program is unlike other teacher preparation programs. Although it has an accelerated pace, it has a more personal feel than other programs. The students take at least one class together each semester throughout their days at San Francisco State. That structure, educators hope, will help the students create lasting bonds that can provide
support during their careers. During a weekly class in which the students reflect on their teaching experiences, Gallagher even makes sure that each student's birthday is celebrated before the start of class.
S.F. State's new program comes in response to the urgent need for more and better-trained teachers. The California State University system, which already produces nearly 60 percent of California's teachers, has called teacher training a top priority. Across the state right now, one in seven of California's 350,000 teachers has emergency teaching credentials, according to the California Teachers Association. The state expects that some 300,000 new teachers will be needed over the next decade to cope wit h the influx of new students as well as with teacher retirements and attrition. And nearly half of all new teachers quit within their first five years of teaching.
"We wanted to figure out a way to help freshmen who already have a deep desire to become teachers pursue their career goals as soon as possible. It has taken a lot of coordination but we have a plan in place and we are on our way," said Helen Goldsmith, who advises students working on their liberal studies degree, the bachelor's degree most prospective elementary school teachers earn before taking teacher credential courses.
Goldsmith sent letters about the new program to incoming freshmen students last summer. More than two dozen responded, including several from Southern California.
"This is an excellent opportunity to see if teaching is the career for you," said Corrina Low, who is part of the University's prestigious Presidential Scholars Program. "It is good to find that out now rather than five years down the road."
Goldsmith and other educators at S.F. State have put together a program outline that incorporates the three-semester, 40-unit teaching credential program with the 124-unit bachelor's of arts degree in liberal studies program. It means a full load for the students or as many as 18 units per semester. The students who entered the program last fall are scheduled to graduate and have their teaching credential and student teaching completed by 2003.
"By taking their general education, their liberal studies classes and their teacher credential classes each semester, the students will learn how what they learn in general psychology or economics classes can be applied to their own teaching in a classroom down the road," said Gallagher.
Why the early career choice of teaching when so many other lucrative career fields exist for students just starting out?
"I chose this path because I want to look back one day say that I made a difference in someone's life," said Corrina, 18, who helps out with second and third graders at Lakeshore Elementary School: "You affect the lives of so many children because they look at teachers as role models. You can also help teach them about things such as ethics and responsibility.
"This is a career that I am really excited about."
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Last modified April 24, 2007, by Office of Public Affairs