Are you considering a career in teaching and thinking about getting your Masters of Arts in Teaching? According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of teachers is projected to grow as the population of school-aged children continues to increase. Having strong enrollment in teacher preparation programs, like Clarkson’s Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program, is essential for K-12 schools to keep up with their quality of service as they strive to educate the next generation.
In this Graduate Student Spotlight, we talk to Caleb Hughes, a current student in our MAT program out of our Capital Region Campus in Schenectady, New York, about his experience in the program, why he’s excited to become a teacher, and what he plans to do with his MAT degree in the future.
Clarkson University: Where did you get your undergraduate degree and when? What did you study?
Caleb Hughes: I earned my undergraduate degree from SUNY Albany in 2020. My degree was in History with a minor in Education.
CU: When and how did you know that you wanted to become a teacher?
CH: I began my collegiate career with the idea that I wanted to be a history teacher. I wasn’t quite sure what grade until I began my observations during my undergraduate studies, and that’s when I knew I wanted to teach in a middle school setting.
CU: How did you come across Clarkson’s MAT program and why did you decide to attend?
CH: I was introduced to the Clarkson MAT program by my current mentor who I had observed under during my undergraduate experience. I ultimately decided to enter this program because of the year-long residency and Clarkson placement rates for their graduates (MAT has had 100% placement for their graduates every year for the last 5 years).
CU: What have been your favorite aspects of the MAT program so far?
CH: My favorite aspect of this program are the friendships and connections I’ve made both with the staff here at Clarkson and my classmates. I have never felt more appreciated and respected by a teaching staff in all my years of schooling, and this includes high school. The staff here want you to be successful and I think that a big part of making sure that’s the case is by getting to know us on a personal level. I have also made lifelong friends here at Clarkson with people who share the same passion I have for the profession.
CU: Talk to us about the one year residency in the program. How has that experience been? What have you learned from it?
CH: The one year residency is where I think a lot of people find out, once and for all, if this profession is something they want to stick with. That was the case for me and my answer to that question is a resounding yes. I have learned how to apply my natural talents and abilities to the profession as well as found out what areas I need to work on to be the best teacher I can be. So in short, the one-year residency has helped me define and work on my strengths as a teacher as well as my weaknesses.
CU: Talk about your courses and how they fit with the residency experience. What are they like? What does a typical week look like for you?
CH: I think what I have enjoyed most about my courses is my instructors. These are well spoken professionals who work in my area and who are very knowledgeable on the content they are teaching. They are also people who take an interest in us as people which makes the learning environment that much more friendly and effective.
Logistically, the program can be done in one or two years. The residency is in year two if you are in a two year program like me. We take courses in the late afternoon as we do our residency during the day. Our courses are put in place to both help us curate resources and material for our classrooms as well as for the inevitable interview process that we will be diving into towards the end of our residency. If there is one thing that Clarkson is good at, it is preparing you for the work place after the residency is up. Typically the first half of the school year consists of us being at our residency, really learning how to teach, with classes at Clarkson in the late afternoon. The second half of the year we continue with our Clarkson courses and we are expected to fully take over the classes we are teaching in our residency.
CU: What motivates you to want to become a teacher, especially in the current climate?
CH: My students in my residency are my biggest motivator for sure. A lot of these students are still reeling from the effects of the pandemic and I think that it is going to take more of a modern approach to have them be successful in today’s climate. Luckily, Clarkson provides this modern teacher-esque education for their MAT candidates.
CU: What are your career goals? Where do you see yourself working after you graduate?
CH: My immediate goal post graduation is to move to New York City and find a teaching position there. It’s not necessarily my long term career path, but I think it would be a great experience and I look forward to hopefully accomplishing this goal.
CU: Any final thoughts about the MAT program?
CH: I would like to highlight again the value of having current teachers being instructors. They understand what schools need in this day and age because they live it every day. Clarkson does a great job at preparing their candidates for what the job will have in store when we enter the field but also years down the road. ~
About the Graduate Student Spotlight series
Deciding whether or not to attend graduate school can be a tough decision. In our Graduate Student Spotlight blog series, we showcase graduate students from our 20+ different graduate degree programs to share their experiences and help prospective students understand whether graduate school may be the right choice for them.
I agree with Caleb. The MAT professors @clarkson are practitioners, who are people and process centered.