Masters Program to be Reinstituted
The Oberlin Master of Arts in Teaching program was established in June 1960 but due to a number of circumstances, including a decrease in federal funding, the program was suspended in 1971. Thirty-seven years after its discontinuation, Oberlin College will once again have a teacher licensing program wherein students can receive a Master of Arts in Education.
Diane Roose, assistant to President Dye, attributed the cessation of the old program to the fact that the “state had requirements that Oberlin didn’t feel were in best interests of its students.”
“It required students to take a lot of course work instead of experience in the field. Seat time was not what Oberlin felt would be helpful for educating teachers,” Roose said.
Changes in the job market and a growing demand, however, have prompted a new plan to educate and certify Oberlin students.
“More and more states are expecting teachers to have a masters degree within five to ten years of becoming a teacher,” said Roose. “This way that degree can be had right out of Oberlin. It will grow.”
Over a period of about five years, a lofty three-volume proposal for the new Graduate Teacher Education Program was amassed for presentation to the Board of Regents. The Board, according to Roose, has “numerous requirements and standards” that had to be met before the submission of the program proposal.
According to Roose, the graduate program will start with about ten students. The aim, however, is for the program’s enrollment to grow to 20 in a few years.
Kathy Jaffe, graduate of Oberlin’s original teaching program, and the new program’s Consultant for Teacher Education, will be coordinating the placement of students in local public schools to complete field work.
“The biggest and most exciting difference between the former MAT [Master of the Arts in Teaching] program and the new Graduate Teacher Education Program is that the new program has been conceived as a partnership in education with the Oberlin City Schools,” Jaffe said.
“This is a chance to teach in the Oberlin school system and to get trained by the best professionals in the field,” said Roose. “It is really an opportunity you don’t get very often.”
According to Roose, students of the new program will “mostly take classes in pedagogical theory.”
“When school starts they will be doing hands-on work in the [Oberlin Public School’s] classroom[s] while taking classes [at the College]. They’ll be working under guidance of mentor teachers in public schools,” she said.
“[The coursework is a] combination of college-based educators who will be teaching courses in theory and professional and pedagogical skills based on ‘best practice’ research, and school-based educators,” said Jaffe. “[These educators,] as experienced mentors, will help the teacher candidates understand how to translate the theory and pedagogical skills into effective practice in the public school classroom.”
The 40-semester hour, 12-month program will commence its first class in June 2007 and will be open to those who have completed their regular degree at Oberlin. Students wanting to become middle or high school teachers are expected to teach in the field of their major.
“Situating the experience within the Oberlin City Schools provides a living laboratory in the collaborative process,” Jaffe said. “[It’s] between Oberlin College and the Oberlin community, between College faculty and Oberlin City Schools faculty, between teacher candidates and experienced Oberlin City Schools teachers and between teachers and students at all levels.”
Of Oberlin alumni, 17.5 percent work in higher education. Roose said that the GTEP will help its graduates “start at higher salary and have a background to become more successful teachers right away.”
“We also expect some students to come back [for their masters degree] after leaving Oberlin, if they decide to become teachers,” Roose said. “We would love to have Oberlin graduates flock to this program. It’s designed for people like Oberlin grads with strong liberal arts backgrounds and with the willingness to be creative and dedicated to teaching.”
The College is currently in the process of recruiting a program director and
students for the Graduate Teacher Education Program.