Learning Through Teaching: Education Students Share Lessons Learned
For the fifth year running, the Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions (GSEAP) has established and grown relationships with Cesar Batalla Schools to place Explorations in Education students in classrooms during teachers’ literacy blocks. Each week students spend several hours in the classroom helping students build critical literacy skills. The partnership is designed to give Fairfield students hands-on teaching experience while also helping Cesar Batalla teachers accomplish more in the classroom.
The program follows a “push in model” whereby Fairfield students go directly into the classroom versus bringing Cesar Batalla students to campus. “The push in model not only provides more time on task, but also allows students to learn from their assigned teachers,” explained Dr. Patricia Calderwood, professor of Curriculum and Instruction. “Our students are learning from the teachers and the teachers see our students as junior colleagues. There’s a great deal of mentoring that our students receive which goes a long way for their professional development.”
Most students enrolled in the Explorations in Education class are sophomores and juniors who are considering whether they will major in Education. As a result, the class is oftentimes a crucial deciding factor for many involved.
While in the classroom, Fairfield students work hands- on with Cesar Batalla students either leading a reading lesson, teaching literacy skills in small groups, or reading one-on-one to a student. The students also collaborate with their teacher on developing lesson plans.
While Fairfield students take on the role of teacher with Cesar Batalla students, the learning doesn’t stop. Two students share what they’ve taken away from their time in the classroom: “It is very important to take into consideration every student and where they’re coming from,” said Mindy Khamvongsa ‘16. Miss Khamvongsa explained a particular scenario she experienced in her 2nd grade classroom, in which one student said he hated Fridays because he didn’t get a hug or kiss from his dad when he was dropped off for school. The child’s friend then told him he would give him a hug every Friday to make his day better. “Teaching is also outside the classroom – it has a lot to do with support as well,” said Miss Khamvongsa.
Kiley Ferreri ’16 also shared her experiences with her assigned 3rd grade class. Ms. Ferreri explained an instance in which she was assigned to read sections of a story to her students and then discuss each paragraph to build comprehension skills. One particular student didn’t understand a concept and claimed that he was “dumb.” After much convincing from Ms. Ferreri, the student eventually gained his confidence because she was able to give him multiple examples of reading exercises he had performed correctly earlier in the week. Ms. Ferreri expressed, “it really goes to show that you have to show these students every single day that you love them and you’re paying attention, because they may not get that anywhere else or even at home,” said Ms. Ferreri.
To continue to offer more literacy support to Cesar Batalla School the GSEAP department recently applied for a grant that will allow faculty, staff, students, and administrators from both institutions to co-design professional development for teachers at Batalla School focused on improving reading and writing literacy for students in grades K-8. If awarded, the grant will increase the number of Fairfield students involved in tutoring and mentoring Batalla students. “Whether our students go on to become teachers or not, the experience they gain through our partnership increases their awareness about social issues in education and their commitment to civic and community service,” explained Stephanie Storms, associate professor of Curriculum Instruction.