What is the STEM Education Program?

Why mentor teachers?

Who are the STEM Education students?

What are my responsibilities as a mentor teacher?

How are students scheduled into my classroom?

How will I benefit as a mentor teacher?

What happens in the early and continuous field based courses?


Q: What is the STEM Education program?                                          

A: STEM Education is an innovative program at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga for preparing secondary mathematics and science teachers. We are an official replication site of the nationally recognized UTeach program begun in 1997 at the University of Texas at Austin. The program emphasizes early and ongoing field-based experiences.  Since its inception, the UTeach enrollment has increased dramatically, and replication programs like STEM Education have been started around the country.                     

Q: Why mentor teachers?                                          

A: We depend on experienced elementary, middle school, and high school teachers to act as mentors to our students during their field-based experiences. Mentor teachers open their classrooms to a pair of STEM Education students, offering guidance and support as they begin to learn about classroom teaching.                     

Q:Who are STEM Education students?                                          

A: The students who will teach in your classroom are predominantly UTC undergraduates majoring in math, science, engineering or computer science who are just beginning to explore the career of teaching. They are receiving ongoing instruction in lesson design, classroom management, and science and mathematics content, but they are not yet student teachers. Their final decision to pursue teaching as a career will be influenced to a great extent by their field experiences in your school.                     

Q: What are my responsibilities as a mentor teacher?                                          

A: You will meet your pair(s) of STEM Education students early in the semester and work with them on the topics and dates for them to teach two- three lessons. All mentor teachers assume primary responsibility for classroom management; provide assistance to STEM Education students during group activities; and complete short reviews of their performance at the end of each lesson and a more thorough summary evaluation at the completion of their lessons.   


Your responsibilities lie in these general areas:



  • Schedule the dates for the observations and three lessons within the targeted weeks.
  • Provide timely communication with STEM Education instructors when problems arise.
  • Be present in the classroom at all times during the STEM Education students’ visits.                                    
  • Assume primary responsibility for classroom management.


Coaching and Evaluation

  • Provide informal feedback to STEM Education students during their lessons.
  • Complete short formal teaching feedback for each lesson taught by a STEM Education student.
  • Complete a short summary evaluation for each STEM Education student upon completion of his/her lessons.                                    

Seminar Attendance

  • Attend a seminar near the beginning of the semester where you will meet the team of students who will observe and teach in your classroom, as well as background training in the 5E lesson cycle.                                    
  • Complete the initial planning of the dates the STEM Education students will observe your class and teach lessons.                                    
  • Assist with initial planning of the lessons, particularly the first lesson.
  • Bring your annual lesson plans and a copy of any textbook your STEM Education students will use (if applicable).                                    


Q: How are students scheduled into my classroom?                                          

A: Your principal has agreed to allow the STEM Education students to teach in your classrooms during your regularly scheduled mathematics or science periods or at another time convenient for you and your school. Once you have also agreed and given us your preferred class periods, we will select a pair of students whose schedules match your own.                     

Q: How will I benefit as a mentor teacher?                                          

A: We will pay you $125 for each student you work with plus $50 for attending one seminar early in the semester. Beyond the remuneration, you will receive the satisfaction of helping us prepare future teachers in a program that is receiving national attention.  In addition to coaching the STEM Education students, you may pick up new ideas for your own teaching.                     

Q:What happens in the early and continuous field-based courses?                                           



Number of Visits

Instructional Materials

Skills STEM Education Students will Acquire

Step 1


(grades 3-5)


5 Visits

(2 observations

3 lessons)

FOSS & GEMS kits

Getting the attention of the class, giving directions, involving all students in group lab activities, bringing the lesson to a close                                 

Step 2

Middle School

(grades 6-8)


4 Visits

(1 observation

3 lessons)

FOSS, GEMS, and other kits, as well as probes, calculators, manipulative, laptops

Applying the 5E model of instruction, formative evaluation, questioning strategies, using probes to collect and analyze data                                 

Classroom Interactions

High School (grades 9-12)

6 visits (3 observations and 3 lessons)

Content-specific curricular materials as well as probes, manipulative, etc.

Designing a two-day unit of instruction; incorporating technology; conducting critical analysis of lessons for effectiveness, developing and implementing instruction for diverse learners