An interactive approach to teaching; College students learn in the classrooms of elementary students
Published 10:45 am Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Future teachers are taking time away from the college classroom for hands-on experience in elementary classrooms.
As Riverland Community College and Winona State University’s four-year teaching-degree partnership enters its third year, students in the program are shifting to on-site learning at Sumner Elementary School this year.
“The idea here is college students are learning to become teachers not in a college class but in a school,” Winona State University President Scott Olson said. “Everything they’re learning in their classrooms they’re putting into practice right away. They’re interacting, and I think it makes the whole thing much more real.”
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Austin Public Schools, Riverland and Winona State partnered to create a four-year program that will allow students to receive an Associate in Arts Degree through Riverland and a Bachelor of Science Degree to teach elementary education through Winona State University — all without leaving Austin.
Students take classes at Riverland for the first two years and the next two years they will be on site at Sumner, taking courses through Winona.
“It’s so important that the partnership work together,” Austin Superintendent David Krenz said Tuesday. “We know that we cannot do it alone any longer.”
Administrators met Tuesday morning at Sumner to discuss the third year of the program.
“It is really exciting,”Krenz said. “It’s something that we here at Austin have been working for, to help not only our own students who graduated from Austin Public Schools, but students throughout Minnesota to really bring home the importance of quality teacher preparation programs.”
Students will get the opportunity to work directly with general and special education teachers, teachers for English Learners, a gifted and talented specialist, reading and math intervention teachers, a cultural liaison, and an instructional coach.
After gaining experience during their first two years at Riverland, the idea is for them to receive more challenging placements and more experience during the second two years through Winona and at Sumner.
Sumner Principal Sheila Berger told college students Tuesday morning their experiences at the elementary school is an important step.
“We have been actually talking about this and hoping for this day for several years,” Berger said to college students in the audience. “And it’s really important for our school to be able to see you and witness first hand your college experience.”
The final two years are designed to give future teachers a lot of experience, not only working with children but also learning directly from teachers. A similar program has also been successful at Rochester Community and Technical College in partnership with Winona State and Rochester’s Riverside Elementary School.
One of the reasons the school district decided to bring the program to Austin is to educate college students who are from Austin and would like to stay in Austin.
“We’re very excited a couple years from now to be able to look at candidates who already know our system, have experience working with our students in our buildings,” Berger said. “That just saves us a lot of leg work in getting you acclimated, you are already going to know how to work with Austin Public Schools.”