As seniors, education majors are required to spend a semester student teaching. In the semesters leading up to their senior year, they participate in fieldwork, a program that helps the education students apply what they are learning in their classes in classrooms with other teachers. Fieldwork helps them build a basis of knowledge that they can implement when they fully emerge into the classroom during their student teaching experiences.
This program is meant to help education majors prepare for their futures. At the beginning, the education students ease in by teaching only some subjects. They then become fully integrated and teach all subjects for about six weeks. During this time, they have full responsibility of the classrooms and create their own lesson plans. Towards the end of the semester, they slowly start to hand the subjects back to the regular teacher.
“Student teaching enables the teacher education student to assume teaching responsibility with support and guidance so that they can continue to learn during the experience,” said Dr. Donna Gardner, department chair of the education department.
The current curriculum requires students to complete one semester of student teaching, but starting with the graduating class of 2018, education majors will be required to complete a whole two semester year of student teaching.
“The education faculty believe that the depth of experience in full-year student teaching will better prepare our teacher education graduates for the increasingly complex demands of teaching,” said Gardner.
Education students can request to be in a suburban, urban or rural school district. From there, students submit their resumes and cover letters, and Jewell helps them apply to classrooms that best suit their preferences.
“If you were just in a classroom once a week or maybe twice a week, you wouldn’t really get the feel of the beginning of the day to the end of the day and staying after school, getting early to school, everything that goes along with what teaching actually is,” said Shannon Carroll, senior education major.
Carroll fulfilled her requirement by teaching in a fifth grade classroom at Prairie Point Elementary in the Park Hill School District. Being in this classroom helped her decide what she would like to pursue in the future.
“It showed me that I really liked the older grades. I loved being in fifth grade, and I loved my students’ being able to understand what I was talking about,” said Carroll.
Brooklyn Bradley, senior education major, student taught in a third grade classroom at Boone Elementary in the Center School District. She values her students and the lessons that she was able to learn from them. They reaffirmed her desire to be a teacher and helped her discover new aspects of teaching.
“Teachers have a tough job, but it’s even more than just teaching the students. I realized that teachers have to wear so many hats throughout the day, mentor, doctor, mother, etc., which makes me even more excited about the profession I’m entering,” said Bradley.
Education majors are given multiple resources to help guide them. Each student has two people who will encourage them and help them throughout the process: the teacher they are paired with and a professor at Jewell. The education students receive feedback from their partnering teacher daily, and faculty at the College will check in with the students at least biweekly. The students are also on campus once a week for further instruction and to take steps to receive their Missouri certifications.
“We hold our student teachers to a high standard of performance in that the education faculty directly support our student teachers by supervising them ourselves and by providing additional guidance in the related classes,” said Gardner.
However, these individuals not only provide feedback, but they help ease the students’ transition into teaching. Carroll was nervous entering the classroom, but she was able to find support from everyone with whom she worked.
“The teacher that I was with and my principal and everyone in the school was so supportive and really helped me reach my goals. The students made me feel welcome,” said Carroll.
Bradley found the constructive criticism from her mentors to be highly beneficial. She even claims that it was the most important thing that helped her learn during the experience.
“I was trying my best to be the perfect teacher, when the whole point of the experience is to learn. Accepting criticism is hard, but when I learned to accept criticism and learn from the mistake I made, then I was able to appreciate the growth that I made,” said Bradley.
While the educations majors spent their time teaching, they realized that they were also learning.
“Everything was a learning experience. Everything was something that could happen in my future as a teacher, and so it was good to see how I should react to those things and how I could take care of different issues or different things that were happening,” said Carroll.
A previous edition of this article was published with pictures that are not posted.