The English Education track is one of two tracks that the Bachelor’s student majoring in English may declare. The coursework in this program provides students with the opportunity to obtain a B.A. in English with a concentration in Secondary Education. At the end of this course of study, students are not only prepared to be knowledgeable practitioners of their content area—English and Language Arts—but may apply for and receive Secondary Education Certification as a result of knowledge gained in the classroom and from 900 hours of in-the-field training. Course objectives and activities relate to the descriptors of the Conceptual Framework in substantive ways.
Preparation for the English major begins in Area F of the core curriculum where 12 hours—four courses--are dedicated to a combination of required 2000-level literary history courses, and six hours—two courses—are dedicated to Foreign Language classes. In accordance with both the Conceptual Framework and the English department’s Mission Statement which values knowledge of and critical thinking in the content area, students in these classes are exposed to diverse texts, not only in genre and authorship but those that come from various cultures. They dialog with peers and professors in order to craft analytical arguments for verbal or written presentation. Such classes offer the burgeoning teacher-in-training methods of closely reading literature with an eye towards empathy and understanding of historically dominant and marginalized cultures.
After finishing Area F successfully, students complete 30 hours of Upper-Division English courses. In this track, several major courses dedicate themselves not only to literary history, writing, reading, theory, criticism, and critical thinking, but also include explicit pedagogy components in their learning outcomes. Such courses help English Education students to gain knowledge in the multifaceted discipline of English Studies and to understand the myriad ways teachers can convey this knowledge. In the major, the pedagogy-specific courses include: Pedagogy and Writing (ENGL 3400); Young Adult Literature (ENGL 4295); and Advanced Grammar or the History of the English Language (ENGL 4300). In these courses, students practice effective lesson planning for a variety of secondary students, engage in collaborative work with classmates, and practice becoming proactive decision makers dedicated to developing a desire for lifelong learning in each other as well as in their students, who will benefit from the Lesson Plans they deploy while out in the field. From time to time, other pedagogy-centered courses that serve English Education students are offered in the department as well. For instance, Shakespeare and Pedagogy was taught in summer of 2014.
In the last decade, some teacher-training programs reduced the aforementioned core Area F discipline-specific requirements to accommodate the Board of Regents’ mandates for new introductory Education courses. However, to serve beginning English teachers best and to bolster their ability to reach the multitude of English and Language Arts performance standards, the English Education major’s Area F courses remain discipline-centered. The English Education major, therefore, takes the mandated Education courses in a “minor” or concentration area, which is comprised of two tiers: introductory courses and the Professional Sequence. In the first tier, students acquire knowledge of broad-based educational theories delivered by experts in the field of Education and further their knowledge of diverse cultures connected to ethnicity, race, sexuality, gender, and even specific types of learners who will require empathy through differentiation in the classroom. Further, it is in this area that they begin to learn about and use various media and instructional technologies and to achieve mandates for special education instruction.
English Education students complete tier one and apply to the Teacher Education Program (TEP) with the College of Education by the end of the sophomore year. Prerequisites for application include a 2.7 overall GPA, either an exemption or passing score on the GACE Program Admission test, and completion of the Georgia Ethics Program Entry Exam. Once these requirements have been reached, students matriculate in the second tier, or the Professional Sequence. In this upper tier, students experience an advanced and focused iteration of the first and participate in 900 hours of Field Experience.
From the core curriculum to Upper-Division courses in the English major to the two tiers in the Secondary Education concentration to the Field Experience, the English Education program at the University of West Georgia seeks to produce content-competent professionals ready to face multiple contingencies present in the high school English and Language Arts classroom and with parents, administrators, and colleagues.