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Math Immersion Program

There is a particularly acute need in the New York City public school system for qualified math teachers. The NYC Teaching Fellows Math Immersion program helps selected candidates who are interested in teaching math (but who did not major in math) gain the credits they need to teach math in the New York City public schools. This program targets individuals who have academic and/or professional backgrounds in math-related fields such as (but not limited to) engineering, finance, or economics. Please note: if you are a math major, you do not need to participate in this program in order to qualify to teach math.

Eligibility for the Math Immersion program is determined on a case-by-case basis; however, you must

a)    have a math-related major or degree;
b)    have math-related work experience (in an area such as finance, economics, or engineering) AND have earned a B-minus or better in at least one college-level calculus course; OR
c)    have earned a B-minus or better in at least three college-level math courses.

Applicants who are interested in participating in Math Immersion should indicate their interest when applying.

Enter the classroom as a Math Immersion Fellow.

In just five years, NYCTF has made a dramatic impact on New York City public schools by bringing thousands of new math teachers to the schools that need them most. Nearly one in every four math teachers in New York City is a NYC Teaching Fellow – a share that continues to grow.  

The Fellowship’s Math Immersion program was developed to provide high quality math teachers to New York’s public schools.  The Immersion program provides select Teaching Fellows, who have strong math content knowledge but no math major with the conceptual background and practical training needed to excel as a math teacher.

So don’t worry if you have forgotten quadratic equations or the Pythagorean Theorem. You’re not alone: none of the more than 1,000 current Fellows who started out in Math Immersion majored in math, and most hadn’t taken a math class in years.  Which isn’t to say they are not highly qualified for the job: Math Immersion Fellows are making a noticeable difference in the lives of students by increasing achievement in a subject that is crucial to their long-term success.

Is Math Immersion right for you? 

By teaching math you are doing students a great service.

There are many subject areas taught in NYC public schools for which teachers are in great demand; however, there is no greater demand than for math teachers.

Students need a strong math understanding to open doors to future opportunities. Consider how often math proficiency determines a high-stakes outcome: from college entrance exams and job applications to budgets.

Math Immersion Fellows often will work with students who have already fallen behind in grade level: 

“You won’t have all A students, but you will reach out to each of them in a way no one else can,” Math Immersion Fellow Shelley Pinks said.

During the two weeks of Immersion training immediately preceding the Fellowship’s pre-service training, you will be engaged in an intensive review of concepts. Immersion includes university coursework and test preparation. Math Immersion Fellows receive an additional $1000 stipend to offset expenses.

 “I wasn’t sure about the level of math I would be able to teach. As such, I was worried I would be over my head,” third-year Math Immersion Fellow, Elizabeth Coker recalls. “But after the summer ramp-up, I felt a lot better.”

According to an independent study published in April 2006 by the National Bureau of Economic Research, NYC Teaching Fellows are more effective than traditionally certified teachers in raising student achievement in math by their third year of teaching.[1]

“One of your most important responsibilities as a teacher is to understand each of your students,” first-year Math Immersion Fellow Shelley Pinks said. “They all come from different situations and learn in different ways. As long as they take away something from you, that’s what counts.”

You will be joining a broad and diverse group of talented new math teachers.

Most Math Immersion Fellows will say that the relationships they developed during training have been critical to their growth as a successful math teacher.

“I found the Math Immersion program to be great because you begin two weeks earlier and are surrounded only by other math Fellows,” said first-year Math Immersion Fellow Coral Jenrette.

During Immersion, you will spend many hours each day with other new math Fellows.

From meeting after work and discussions at your university to phone calls to clarify a lesson plan or mathematical concept, your peers will be vital sources of support.

“It gives you a chance to bond, start building a network, and feel supported from the beginning,” Coral added.

You will be able to manage your class effectively.

Teaching is a learning process. You won’t enter the classroom on the first day of school an expert teacher. No one does. Even new teachers who have majored in education need time to grow. The greatest part of a teacher’s development takes place in the classroom.

“Keep in mind,” Shelley said, “many teachers have been in your shoes and have overcome their fears—especially of teaching math. It definitely gets easier and the rewards are greater than you can imagine.”

Your first years in the classroom are indeed challenging, and it will take time for you to feel comfortable in your new role. But the challenges are surmountable.

“Don’t get discouraged and think about throwing it all away,” Shelley said. “With the help of your colleagues you will learn new and better ways to teach.”

You will have some flexibility to choose the grade level of math that you will teach.

The Teaching Fellows program believes that the match between a teacher and a school is essential for the long-term success of students. While the program works to facilitate connections between schools with open positions and new Teaching Fellows, you are in control of your own job search and will have the ability to pursue positions in different grade levels. Hiring decisions are ultimately left to principals to ensure a good match for both the school and the teacher.

Most Math Immersion Fellows will be eligible to teach 7th – 12th grade math, but some universities allow Math Immersion Fellows to teach only middle school.

“You should decide early on which grade level math you are going to want to teach,” first-year Math Immersion Fellow, Jennifer Galvin, suggests. “That way, not only will you have a better idea of what kind of positions to look for once you are assigned a region, but you can make your training work better for you.”

Despite having choice, it is important to remain flexible an open-minded when evaluating potential job opportunities.  In the end, the mission of all Teaching Fellows is to make a difference where they are most needed. The tradition of the Teaching Fellows program is that Fellows weigh the needs of schools heavily during the job search process.

The Math CST isn’t a breeze, but it’s doable.

One of the biggest concerns for Math Fellows is the Math Content Specialty Test (CST) that they must take and pass before they can begin teaching (note: Fellows do NOT need to take any tests until AFTER  they have been accepted to the program). However, there are many resources available to you—study guides, online practice tests, and a test prep DVD provided free by NYCTF.

Math Immersion Fellows have a good track record with the Math CST. Nearly 95% pass before the school year starts, which is the same rate for all other content areas.

“I was really worried about it beforehand, but it ended up being really easy,” Elizabeth said. “My only advice would be to look at the practice tests available online.”

Shelley had a more difficult time, but found that understanding your way around the calculator proved effective. NYC Teaching Fellows helped.

“If you understand the calculator and various commands, you can definitely pass this exam,” she said. “The DVD offered by the Fellows was extremely helpful to me.”

You may have several opportunities to take the CST and your test scores will not be averaged; only your passing score will count.  It is not unusual for Math Immersion Fellows to need more than one opportunity to pass the CST, so we encourage you to apply early.  An earlier admission will allow for more chances to take the tests.

For more information, please visit the National Evaluation Systems’ website at: http://www.nystce.nesinc.com.

Want more information?

If you would like more information on teaching math as part of the NYC Teaching Fellows program, there are several ways to get more information so that you can make the most informed decision.

Our Website: You should make sure that you read through our website carefully. Yes, there is a lot of information here, but it’s there because it’s important for you to know.  Be sure to check out the videos on this page to hear firsthand from Fellows about their experiences.

Information Sessions: Current NYC Teaching Fellows and representatives of the program hold information sessions throughout the city and region. Some information sessions are math-specific. Attending a session is a great way to learn more about the program, ask questions, and hear from a current math Fellow.

To get in touch with someone directly, you can contact us at 1.877.NYFELLO or via e-mail at fellows@schools.nyc.gov.  

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[1] Kane, Thomas J., Rockoff, Jonah E., Staiger, Douglas O. “What Does Certification Tell Us About Teacher Effectiveness? Evidence From New York City,” Working Paper 12155; National Bureau of Economic Research. April 2006. P. 18.