Teacher preparation in social studies is unique at Gettysburg College because of its thoroughgoing interdisciplinary nature. At Gettysburg, future social studies teachers are challenged to develop their knowledge of disciplinary "ways of knowing" and of the methods and epistemological frameworks that support those ways of knowing, but are also encouraged to see connections between and among the various disciplines that comprise social studies to develop content knowledge for teaching. Most important, prospective social studies teachers are given opportunities to connect their knowledge of subject matter to thoughtful and thought provoking approaches to professional practice that are comprehensive in scope, sophisticated in their design, and firmly grounded in the "signature pedagogies" of social studies teaching that have been proven to enhance student learning and growth.
Because social studies is an interdisciplinary subject, prospective teachers have multiple pathways to choose from as they plan their courses of study. It is not possible to major in social studies education at Gettysburg College; instead students must choose a major in a content area and connect their understanding of the content they learn across campus to the coursework and field experiences they complete in the Education Department. With that end in mind students who wish to become social studies teachers are strongly encouraged to consider a range of options as they plan their programs of study. In one sense, the more interdisciplinary the major the more likely it is that our teachers will graduate with the wide-ranging knowledge they need to teach effectively. On the other hand, understanding and knowing how to use the intellectual tools employed by disciplinary scholars is key to developing "disciplined" knowledge of social life and institutions. Each of the options available to prospective social studies teachers, when combined with rigorous Education coursework, offers teacher candidates the opportunity to develop this knowledge and hone these skills. Listed below are some options available to prospective social studies teachers at Gettysburg College.
American Studies with Teacher Certification in Social Studies (AS/ED)
The interdisciplinary program in American Studies with teacher certification in secondary social studies, referred to colloquially as AS/ED, is open to any student interested in designing his or her own major in American history and culture with the coursework required to obtain secondary certification in social studies in Pennsylvania. Click on the Special Programs and Opportunities link in the menu to the left for more information on the AS/ED program.
Globalization Studies with Teacher Certification in Social Studies (GS/ED)
Majors in Globalization Studies combine required interdisciplinary coursework in the social sciences with regional and thematic “tracks” to develop a deeper sense of the increasing connectedness of the world and its implications for the future. GS majors completing certification coursework would be well positioned to teach World History, World Geography, and Sociology courses in K-12 schools, as well as any range of cultural and historical course elective that may be offered. For more information on the Globalization Studies major, visit the department’s website: http://www.gettysburg.edu/academics/gs.
Public Policy Double-Major with Teacher Certification in Social Studies
Students more interested in political science and economics may choose to combine certification coursework with a major in Public Policy. Coursework in Public Policy encourages quantitative analysis of various policy alternatives and sustained study of the political institutions that help shape and respond to various policy alternatives. Public Policy majors who earn secondary certification would be especially well positioned to teach courses in Micro- and Macroeconomics, Government and Politics, Geography, and Environmental Studies. Note that the major in Public Policy is not a standalone major; students hoping to connect a public policy major to certification should pair that major with one in the subject areas already approved for certification. More information in this can be obtained in the Education Office. For more information on the Public Policy major, visit the program’s website: http://www.gettysburg.edu/academics/public-policy.
Traditional Majors with Teacher Certification in Social Studies
For students uncomfortable taking the path less traveled, a major in any traditional social science area, or in history, can be combined with certification coursework (and a healthy dose of fortitude) or with a minor in Educational Studies. Students seeking to major in a single disciplinary area and earn a certificate to teach in Pennsylvania typically will need to bring course credits with them when they come to Gettysburg, and many must also complete some requirements off campus during the summer. Students pursuing this route also may consider the Ninth Semester as a viable student teaching option and often are unable to study abroad in their time at Gettysburg.
It may also be possible to combine a traditional major with a certificate in a related area (Pennsylvania also offers certification in citizenship and social science), instead of social studies, but these certificates tend to limit the job opportunities available to graduates. Pursuing this route sometimes requires additional testing beyond that required for initial certification in social studies, especially for students hoping to teach in a state other than Pennsylvania. Careful and frequent consultation with your Education Advisor is especially important if you wish to pursue a major in one of the traditional academic disciplines with teacher certification in social studies.
So does this road start, and where should it end? Follow these steps below to ensure that all requirements are met:
- Register with us and get an Education Advisor. Every student registered with the Education Department is assigned to a faculty advisor in the Department. Essentially, all students seeking certification or pursuing a minor in Educational Studies will have two formal faculty advisors--one in the major, and one in Education. To get this process started, interested students should stop by the Education office in Weidensall Hall (Room 106) and fill out a short form. Once you have an advisor, set up a meeting to discuss the particulars.
- Begin taking classes. The course sequence required for all certificate-seekers includes: Education 209 (Foundations of Education), Education 201 (Educational Psychology), Education 299 (Language, Culture, and Immigration), Education 340 (Teaching Students with Diverse Needs), Education 405 (Student Teaching Seminar), and Education 476 (Student Teaching). Students should begin by taking either Education 209 or Education 201.
- In addition to the required Education courses, students seeking certification must also complete a number of other curricular requirements. All students must complete a writing course, a course in British or American literature, and two college-level math courses before applying to student teach.
- Apply for the Education Semester. At Gettysburg College, we call the semester you spend student teaching the "Education Semester" in a nod to the history of the idea. The Education Semester was conceived in the 1960s when it was still unusual for student teachers to suspend all other academic work while completing the teaching internship; until then, student teaching was really only a part-time affair. Because the Education Semester is so demanding we expect students to focus solely on student teaching during this semester and encourage careful planning to ensure that they are properly prepared intellectually, emotionally, and even physically for the demands of teaching. With regard to the careful planning piece, applications for the Education Semester must be received by no later than October 15 of the year before the planned Education Semester. For most students, this is in the fall semester of the junior year. Students who wish to student teach in a Ninth Semester may apply as late as October 15 of the senior year.
- Note that certain additional requirements must be met in order for an Education Semester application to be successful; at minimum, these include passing required basic skills examinations (or their equivalent), maintaining a grade point average of 3.0, and completing the writing, literature, and math coursework described above.
- Complete remaining coursework. if your application for student teaching is successful, you should plan to use your junior year to complete courses required for your major, the Gettysburg Curriculum, and/or certification. Stay in contact with your Education Advisor to make sure you keep all the necessary boxes checked.
- Student teach. Most students will student teach in the fall of the senior year, though others may complete the Education Semester immediately after graduation if a Ninth Semester is elected.