“CalTeach prepared me so well that even before graduating, I was offered a job as a high school math instructor.”
The CalTeach Program was attractive to me because it offered an opportunity to obtain my dream career sooner than I previously thought was possible. I hadn’t heard of CalTeach before coming to UCI, so I was anticipating a standard 4-year math major route and then a couple years in a master’s program to become a college-level lecturer. I decided to join CalTeach when I heard that it would allow me to work hard for both a B.A. and a teaching credential at the same time, all the while getting a lot of first-hand experience in classrooms. (I actually did not know that I did not need a teaching credential to be a college lecturer until two years into the program, but by then, CalTeach had helped me find a passion to teach at the K-12 level.)
There is so much I want to say about what CalTeach has done for me. One of the biggest reasons CalTeach is such an awesome program is because of the superb support team that comes with it. There is the pool of fabulous instructors who work directly with us. Never before have I experienced teachers who are as dedicated to making our time in the class safe, fun, meaningful, and fruitful as the CalTeach instructors are. On top of their enthusiasm for everything educational, these instructors are brilliant. They model a plethora of instructional strategies to both teach us and help us become better teachers.
The program advisors are equally stellar. We know exactly what to do and when to do it in order to succeed in both our academics at UCI and our teaching careers, all because of the CalTeach staff. Also, the peers in our cohorts are some of the biggest supports for each other. We go through several CalTeach classes together, which encourages cooperative learning and collaboration, so by the end of the program we are all best friends on top of valuable colleagues.
Although the program is incredible, it also is tough. Our classes are fun, but the workload is not a joke. This does make sense, however, because we are going to be way ahead of the game by earning both our B.A. and our teaching credential together in our undergraduate studies (most of us in just 4 years). The program has assigned readings of articles, books, and blogs, covering pedagogy, adolescent development, cognitive development, social factors influencing academic success, and more. We role play as both students and teachers to develop instructional strategies. We design inquiry-based projects, write lesson plans and essays on theory-based pedagogy, and set peer-edit learning objectives. This is all while spending over 100 hours observing, designing, and implementing lessons in K-12 classrooms before we even begin student teaching. Coming out of this program, there is no doubt about how well prepared we are to succeed in our own classrooms.
CalTeach prepared me so well that, even before graduating, I was offered a job by both of the only two schools where I interviewed. This fall, I will be teaching Geometry and Trigonometry/Statistics at La Quinta High School in the Garden Grove Unified School District (GGUSD). As a CalTeach student I spent almost two years at La Quinta, first observing, and then student teaching, and I cannot imagine working elsewhere. I love the students and am so impressed by and excited to work with the staff at the school. I may soon be taking over the position of advisor for the exceptional school leaders in Girls’ League, and plan to be very involved with the students at the school.
Career-wise, I eventually would like to teach some higher math such as Calculus, and go back to school for a master’s degree (and possibly a Ph.D.) in Education so that I can come back and be an instructor for the CalTeach Program.