Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Can I earn a bachelor’s degree while becoming certified to teach science or math in just four years at UMBC?
Yes. Please see this link to the numerous pathways available to become eligible for teacher certification.

Q. I’ve heard a lot about the inadequacy of teacher salaries. Why should I spend a lot of time and money getting a degree from UMBC with certification when I won’t earn nearly what I could earn by entering business or industry? 
Starting teacher salaries are, in fact, competitive and teachers earn competitive compensation, receive good health and education benefits, and have extended summer vacations to pursue additional coursework, earn additional monies as curriculum writers, or refresh themselves professionally and personally. Please follow this link to see salary information for each Maryland county school system.

Q. What is the demand for teachers certified in science and math, or who have a science and math background? 
The federal government and more locally, the University System of Maryland, are concerned about the lack of highly qualified teachers in the STEM disciplines. In some districts there are even signing bonuses for certified teachers in these content areas, and there are scholarships and other financial supports available to individuals who plan to pursue certification in a STEM discipline. Talk to Rehani Shafi, rshafi@umbc.edu, or Jon Singer, singer@umbc.edu, about some of these opportunities through the Sherman Scholars Program or the Noyce Program. 

Q. What if I don’t decide I want to teach until I’m getting fairly close to graduation? 
UMBC offers a Master of Arts in Teaching degree. It is possible to go through the M.A.T. in an accelerated fashion by taking several graduate courses as an undergraduate during your last year of college and then taking courses and completing the internship in a fairly compact, full-time fashion during the year following graduation.  It is also possible to do the M.A.T. as a part-time student so that you can work while taking late afternoon and evening classes. Please contact one of our program coordinators for more information

Q. How can I get experience in the schools to let me know whether or not I want to teach?
Several of our introductory education courses offer field experiences that allow one to sample the waters; see the description of these early field courses by following this link.

There are classroom-based internship and service-learning opportunities available through the Shriver Center. Please follow this link for more information.

Aspiring Teachers at UMBC (AT@UMBC) is a living/learning center for future teachers and individuals interested in exploring teaching as a possible career choice. Contact Sandy Danna or Rehana Shafi for information about this program which includes a one credit course exploring current educational options and service learning opportunities.

There are also tutoring and learning assistant opportunities available at various UMBC departments and centers. In some departments, learning assistants are able to earn a stipend while gaining tutoring and teaching experience. Visit this site’s Activities page to learn more about tutoring opportunities. 

Q. I’m thinking about changing careers and have always thought teaching would be a good fit for my skills and interests. What does UMBC have to offer me? 
The Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) is the way to go; it’s a masters program that leads to eligibility for certification in Maryland. For the first part of program candidates can continue working while taking afternoon and evening classes, although eventually, there is a commitment to a full-time internship in the public schools for a semester. 

Q. What are the PRAXIS™ exams and do I have to take them? 
PRAXIS™ is the intersection between theory and practice. The PRAXIS™ exams, developed by the Educational Testing Service (who brought us the SATs), have two parts. Candidates must submit passing PRAXIS™ I scores for admission to the year-long internship; this part of PRAXIS™ tests basic skills in math, reading, and writing. PRAXIS™ II involves a test of content knowledge and a test of your ability to teach that content.  There are practice tests available at the ETS website, www.ets.org.

Q. Once I become certified, what do I have to do to retain my certification? 
Beginning teachers who complete an approved program receive a Standard Professional Certificate. Within five years, you must complete at least six graduate credits, or the equivalent, to retain certification; actually, teachers must take at least six graduate credits or the equivalent in order to remain eligible to teach. Within 10 years, teachers must have a masters degree or the equivalent (individual school systems offer professional development workshops and courses that can be counted towards certification eligibility). Salaries increase with levels of educational achievement and years of teaching. Please visit UMBC’s Department of Education website for more details about the certification process.

Q. What career options do I have if I decide to leave the K-12 classroom?
The ability to teach is a valuable asset that can be used in many ways and in many settings. Some teachers pursue course work and training to move into educational administration or into specialized educational positions, such as reading specialist, guidance counselor, or educational psychologist, or media specialist. Others decide to move into positions in private industry or the government where they use their disciplinary backgrounds in combination with their teaching and curriculum design skills to serve varied audiences in diverse settings.

Q. One aspect of teaching that seems daunting to me is that of managing a large group of students all at once. What support is offered to future teachers? 
In all the methods courses, as you learn about how to teach specific content and practice with various pedagogical strategies, you also learn about classroom management and discipline strategies, including attention to those small details such as how to manage the distribution of a graded test or how to organize students into groups to larger issues such as how to manage lab safety, or what to do if a student becomes angry and loses control. During the year-long internship, you meet weekly in a seminar with a university faculty member to debrief and reflect on all aspects of teaching, and you will have both a mentor teacher with you in the classroom on a daily basis, as well as a university supervisor who will visit you in the classroom to observe your development as a teacher and facilitate your reflections on all aspects of teaching. 

Additionally, we offer formal training in conflict resolution through our course and weekend workshops on CRETE – Conflict Resolution Education for Teachers and Educators. Dr. Terri Filbert, the Professional Development School Director, is in charge of this wonderful program that has been documented to change school climate and teach students important conflict mediation and negotiation skills they can then use productively across their lifetimes.

Q. What is TK20 and why do I have to purchase an account?
Because of our need to use data-driven decision making to constantly improve our programs, and because of the various kinds of reports we need to complete regularly to maintain our accredited status, future teachers are required to purchase an account with our Education Accountability System via Tk20 (EAS via Tk20), for which there is a one-time charge of $103.00. Course-based key assignments and field-based performance assessments will be conducted throughout your teacher education program using the system, some of which occur during  several classes you will take early in our programs: EDUC 388, 412, and the section of EDUC 310 for future secondary and K-12 teachers. Your use of EAS via Tk-20 documents your competencies and achievements in

1) meeting national, state and institutional standards for new teachers
2) using technology for administrative and record-keeping purposes;
2) using technology to document growth and development as educators over time;
3) demonstrating openness to new technologies and learning opportunities; and
4) demonstrating professionalism by collaborating to meet community needs. 

You will be able to keep your EAS via Tk20 account two years after program completion and will be able to show future employers a variety of assignments and assessments through it that can document your skills as a teacher. We hope you will activate an account and maintain it faithfully as a record of your professional development.