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Six MAT Student Honorees Ace the Test

Teachers today need more than a command of the curriculum. To get high marks in the classroom, they must also look at whether their students have the knowledge and skills to be successful at whatever subject they are studying.

UMUC’s 2014 MAT Teachers of Promise: (Back row, L to R) Alison Daniels, Scarlett White, Morgan Kauffman; (front row) Jenni Eaton and Kristin Baker.

And they must engage in action research. “They must be able to analyze what’s happening in their classrooms, identify best practices, and look at data-driven outcomes to achieve better teaching results,” said Dr. Theo Stone, director of field and clinical services for UMUC’s Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program.

The MAT program welcomes applicants from all disciplines and focuses on how to teach. “One of the things we look at is creating self-reflective teaching professionals. We want them to be able to analyze how they’re teaching and how that jibes with the results they’re achieving with their students,” Stone said.

The program also equips students with the ability to analyze what they can continuously be doing in their classrooms to achieve better learner outcomes. Stone offered his reflections at the MATTeachers as Researchers Symposium, an event to both celebrate student achievement and showcase examples of the action research at the heart of the diverse and highly competitive MAT Program.

At present, 232 students from nine majors are actively enrolled. They are more or less evenly divided between STEM majors, English majors, and social science or history majors, according to MAT Program Director Dr. Warna Gillies. “Only two of every four students that apply are accepted. So for students to be accepted and then complete the master’s program is really very significant.”

Gillies describes the MAT as interactive, collaborative, and rigorous and says the program is enriched by its diversity of majors and, by extension, a diversity of perspectives. That helps MAT candidates develop the elasticity they will need in order to work effectively with learners of various interests and skill levels.

“They’re not just representing their own content areas. They’re educators first, and they’re teaching students first. And they need to value all the skills and talents that students in their classrooms have. And they are able to do that,” Gillies said.

Students Honored

Six MAT candidates who presented research at the symposium received special recognition.

Yolanda Body was named a Maryland Association of Teacher Educators (MATE) Distinguished Honoree. MATE recognizes one student from each four-year college or university and one student from each community college in Maryland, Delaware, and the District of Columbia that offers early childhood, elementary, secondary, or special education programs. The award recognizes future educators who are committed to student learning and reflective, responsive teaching.

Alison Daniels, Scarlett White, Morgan Kauffman, Jenni Eaton, and Kristin Baker were named UMUC’s 2014 Teachers of Promise. The five were selected by UMUC’s education faculty and staff for their outstanding demonstration of knowledge, skills, abilities, and the professional disposition required of new teachers.

The Teachers of Promise Program began in 2007 as an outgrowth of the Maryland Teacher of the Year Program. It encourages the best and brightest to teach in Maryland and provides a transition from student to first-year teacher.

Gillies praised all MAT graduates for their success in completing a very rigorous course of study, which includes online coursework and 17 weeks full-time in the classroom. Many have changed careers in order to become teachers.

UMUC MAT candidates as a group are talented, diverse, and proud representatives of the university, said Gillies. And anyone who believes the old saw “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach” has got it all wrong.

“Those who care, teach. Those who can, teach. Those who are capable, teach. And I can’t think of a better profession to be in.”