Planning for Your M.A.T. Degree

Teaching well is deceptively complex. Among other things, learning to teach includes:

  • Gaining a knowledge base in the subject area(s) you plan to teach.
  • Building a knowledge base in general teaching methodologies.
  • Knowing as much as possible about the students you will teach.
  • Understanding how teaching must be adapted in different subject areas.
  • Learning to “read” the context in which you and the students are working.
  • Moving from seeing yourself as a student to seeing yourself as a teacher.

While the Masters of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) program addresses each of these areas, graduate work in education requires a solid preparation if you are to take advantage of all it offers.  You must demonstrate your level of preparedness when you apply to the program.  Fortunately, making sure you’re a viable candidate for a graduate education program also goes a long ways toward making you a better educator.

General Advice
Preparing for graduate work and for working in schools means:

  • Gaining instructional experience in a variety of educational settings.
  • Making sure you know your subject area.
  • Developing strong interpersonal skills by putting yourself in situations where you need to work with a wide variety of people.
  • Fostering relationships with professors and mentors who can write you strong recommendations.
  • Developing strong interpersonal skills by putting yourself in situations where you need to work with a wide variety of people.

The following year-specific advice is intended to help you address each of the above areas.

First Year
Volunteer in an educational setting.  Puget Sound’s Community Involvement and Action Center is a great place to begin.  Consider Kids Can Do!, and Etc. Tutoring. These experiences can help you decide if an education profession is right for you, what age students you prefer to work with, and begin learning how to relate to those younger than yourself.

Tell your advisor that you’re considering a career in education.

Take classes in a variety of subject areas as you consider subjects you might like to teach. 

Think about a major.

Select your core classes with an eye toward subjects that are taught in K-12 schools (e.g., social studies, English, music, math, science).

Become involved in a club or athletic team

Add your name to the Teaching and Counseling Professions Advisory Committee (TCPAC) list so that you will receive information about events of interest to prospective educators.

Sophomore Year
Volunteer in an educational setting.  Puget Sound’s Community Involvement and Action Center is a great place to begin. Consider Kids Can Do!, and Etc. Tutoring. These experiences can help you figure out if an education profession is right for you, what age students you prefer to work with, and how to relate to those younger than yourself.

Take courses that can apply to a major or minor in areas you plan to teach.

Take Education 290, 292, 294, or 296. These courses are .25 academic credit, are offered every-other year, and include a volunteering-in-schools component.

Visit your professors’ office hours to build relationships with those who might serve as references for you.

Maintain a strong grade point average (GPA), especially in the areas you hope to teach.

Consider studying abroad next year to expand your ability to work with those from cultures other than your own.

Attend the Teaching and Counseling Professions Advisory Committee’s Practitioner’s Forum to hear from former students like you who have gone on to become teachers and counselors.  If you are on the TCPAC list, you will be automatically notified of this event.

Contact the School of Education is you need advice about classes to take or how to make sure you are academically prepared.

Junior Year
Continue volunteering in an educational setting. Puget Sound’s Community Involvement and Action Center is a great place to begin. Consider Kids Can Do!, and Etc. Tutoring.

Take Education 290, 292, 294, or 296. These courses are .25 academic credit, are offered every-other year, and include a volunteering-in-schools component.

Stay in contact with professors you plan to ask for letters of reference.

Take Education 419 or 420. You can take one of both of these courses in your junior year.

If you want to teach middle or high school, review the courses you have taken and plan to have at least five units of coursework in all areas you want to teach.  For example, if you want to teach both math and chemistry you’ll need five units of math and five units of chemistry.

Secondary-school principals like to hire people who can teach more than one subject. Broaden your teaching options by five or more units of coursework in more than one school subject. For example, if you want to teach English, you can enhance your chances by being prepared to teach social studies as well. This requires five or more units of preparation in English and in some combination of the social studies (i.e, history, civics, geography, or economics)

Decide when you will take the state-mandated basic skills test (the West-B) and the test to demonstrate you know your subject area (the West-E).

Attend the Teaching and Counseling Professions Advisory Committee’s Practitioner’s Forum to hear from former students like you who have gone on to become teachers and counselors.  If you are on the TCPAC list you will be automatically notified of this event.

Attend one of the School of Education’s Information Nights.

Senior Year
Continue volunteering in an educational setting. Puget Sound’s Community Involvement and Action Center is a great place to begin. Consider Kids Can Do!, and Etc. Tutoring.

Take Education 419 and/or 420.

If you want to teach middle or high school, be sure you have at least five units of coursework in all the areas you want to teach.

If you want to teach elementary school, be sure you have taken courses in a wide variety of school subjects in addition to your major.

Take the WEST-B and the WEST-E test in the fall.

Take the GRE (unless you are a Puget Sound or Whitman student with a GPA greater than 3.0).

Approach professors early (during fall semester) about writing a letter of recommendation for you.

Write your application essay and take it to the Center for Writing, Learning, and Teaching to get their help and advice.

Obtain an application and submit it by March 1.

If you plan to take a year off before entering the M.A.T. program, talk to someone in the School of Education about applying now (while you have easy access to reference writers and university resources) and deferring until next year.

 

View requirements for teaching the following subjects: