October 29, 2013
A minor in coaching prepares aspiring teachers for the opportunities often found in rural schools.
Meet Travis, who has been teaching in a small rural West Texas school for about eight years. He has taught history, world geography, junior high and high school band, and was the UIL coach for seven subjects. He also assisted coaching with junior high and junior varsity football and varsity and JV boys’ basketball. And that was just his first year.
This scenario is real life for many teachers in rural schools, but Texas Tech University’s College of Education is initiating a program to better prepare aspiring teachers for the multiple tasks one likely will have to take on in a smaller school.
Beginning in the spring the college will offer a pairing of its multidisciplinary studies major – which is what most teacher candidates earn – with a minor in coaching, presented through the Department of Health, Exercise, and Sport Sciences (HESS).
“The idea came from trying to place our teacher candidates with high school teachers in our rural partner districts,” said Doug Hamman, director of teacher education. “Traditionally, we want a placement where teachers work in classrooms all day so that our teacher candidates can have a complete clinical experience. But many of the secondary teachers in the rural districts are in the classroom for only half the day, and on the field or court for the other half. They work all day with kids, but it isn’t always in a classroom setting.”
Hamman said it occurred to him that so many of their teacher candidates want to coach almost as much as they want to teach, and the alliance seemed like a perfect match.
“Our partner districts get eager new math or science teacher candidates who will be looking for jobs, and the candidates get experience in settings where they can teach and coach,” Hamman said.
Hamman is working with Melanie Hart, interim chair of HESS and associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences, to work out the details of the coaching minor, and what courses would be most beneficial for someone who wants to coach in middle or high school.
“She had great ideas, and being a former teacher and coach herself, saw the value in this option right away,” Hamman said.
The Right Stuff
In rural districts, math and science teachers are often coaches too.
Hamman said they are looking for candidates who want to teach math or science in a middle or secondary school; who want to coach sports along with teaching; and who are willing to work in a smaller district, like Roosevelt or Smyer Independent School District, for instance. He said there is great need for math and science teachers in the rural districts, and being able to coach is almost a requirement too.
“We’re looking for smart candidates and ones who want to work with students as a coach,” he said. “Often times, colleges of education don’t pay a lot of attention to those who want to coach, but coaches play a huge role in the lives of young people every day. I’ve never heard of a program like this anywhere.”
In the initial phase, the college is only accepting 15-20 new candidates. Hamman said it is a pretty specialized offering that will take a lot of commitment from the candidates. He explained that math and science are harder subjects to be certified in, and the schools are farther away from the Texas Tech campus.
“In addition the students have a year-long student teaching appointment along with all that that requires, so it won't be easy,” he said.
To apply, students should send email to firstname.lastname@example.org indicating their interest in the MSCI-coaching minor program. Students interested in starting the program in the spring need to apply immediately; and for a fall 2014 start the deadline is April 2.
The College of Education at Texas Tech University offers a full range of programs, including eight doctoral degrees, 12 master's degrees and two bachelor's degrees with numerous specializations leading to careers in public or private education as teachers, professors, administrators, counselors and diagnosticians.
Programs in the college are housed in two departments. The Department of Curriculum and Instruction offers undergraduate programs leading to initial teaching certificates and graduate programs in bilingual education, curriculum and instruction, elementary education, language literacy and secondary education.
The Department of Educational Psychology and Leadership offers graduate programs in counselor education, educational leadership, educational psychology, higher education, instructional technology and special education.