There are a number of smaller majors within Illinois State University that rarely receive the recognition they deserve. A few weeks ago, The Vidette introduced you to several members of the Ceramics program. This time around, we are focusing on the Business Teacher Education (BTE) major.
We visited a course in education technology for business teachers this week in order to get to know some of the students in the BTE program and to learn about what they have been working on.
The BTE program at ISU has only 40 students in total (that includes all students, freshman through senior), and as a result is a very tight-knit community-based group. “For the past couple of years, this has been our group, like a small family” senior Sean Duggan explained.
Those studying to be certified under the major are qualified to teach a wide array of classes in grades K-12, which include but are not limited to economics, accounting, typing, marketing and word processing. “We’ll also help people with web tools,” senior Christopher Anderson said. “Microsoft Word and Excel; tools like that.”
“Recently, we put together two lessons, one on a textbook and another based on social media sites, wikis, and webcasts — tools for the classroom,” senior BTE major Sara Shadid added.
Something special about the BTE program here at Illinois State is the fact that it is, according to Dr. Kathy Mountjoy, the Business Teacher Education professor whose class we visited, “the only BTE program in the state that provides certification for grades K-12.” Typically, certification begins at the middle school level, but because typing classes have become so commonplace in grade schools, it was decided that widening the certification window would render graduates most prepared.
Most of these students are planning to graduate and find work in a school. This is the case for senior BTE major Nick Davis, who has always wanted to be an educator.
“It’s always been about teaching for me,” he says. “Even in high school, I wanted to help out in the classroom when other students were having trouble understanding things. It’s all about making connections in kids’ lives.”
Some students, though, may go onto to work for specific businesses should they decide that teaching isn’t what they want to do after all, or if a teaching job is not available for a period of time.
The BTE degree comes with a built-in “back up,” which prepares students to training and development professionals in any business setting.
“These students take all the same tools courses as a regular business major would,” Mountjoy said. “They have a broad base to work off of after graduating from our program. If they work in any business they would already have an understanding of what was to be expected of them and how to perform those tasks. Businesses are looking for people are who are the most easily trained. In the last year, we have seen more BTE students gets jobs outside of education than ever before.”
This is a program that provides a great deal of breadth in learning. Some BTE students are looking forward to teaching elementary-aged children, some are planning on working to train other adults in a business setting and many will find work in school’s libraries in media resource centers. Some students have gone on to work for Teach for America, finance investment firms or as the principals of different schools in the state. One student even graduated and now works for Google. The options for employment cover a wide range and clearly display the dynamism one acquires from studying in the BTE program.