|• Spring 2003||Magazine Archive & Search • Muhlenberg Home|
How does an education student sort it all out? Here’s a closer look at the education program at Muhlenberg:
All education students take Foundations of Education, designed to develop students’ potential for critical thinking and effective, ethical educational leadership, first. It’s a pre-requisite for everything else. Courses in educational psychology, the exceptional learner and teaching and learning follow, while assessment and evaluation, studies in professional education and student teaching I and II are fulfilled during the professional semester.
Those seeking secondary certification take a course in secondary school curriculum before student teaching, while elementary candidates take curriculum courses in literacy in the primary grades, middle grades literacy and social studies, mathematics and elementary science.
Because the education faculty believe that students learn the most from hands-on experience, every course beyond Foundations requires a fieldwork component. Muhlenberg students spend a great deal of time in the classroom before they even dream about student teaching. A minimum of 20 hours of fieldwork time is required for each semester that a student is enrolled in an education course.
“Fieldwork is a wonderful opportunity for education students,” says Shaffer, who has supervised several ‘Berg students filling their fieldwork requirements at Trexler Middle School. “Most of them are real go-getters, and they have a self-assured knowledge that they belong in the classroom by the time they student teach. They recognize that they have a lot to offer.”
Jolly Benitez ’99, a bilingual teacher in the East Windsor School District in New Jersey, agrees. “A teacher really learns the most from on-the-job training,” she says. “My student teaching experiences were mixed. I had one good one, and one was really challenging.”
But challenges are usually rewarding, and Benitez, who made valuable contacts during her time at Muhlenberg, says she learns something new from her students every day. After graduation, she worked as a teacher for the Hispanic American Organization in Allentown. She now teaches bilingual and Spanish-speaking second and third graders, helping them to increase their reading and writing skills as they master English. She’s now completing a master’s degree in teaching English as a second language.
Learning to teach will remain a challenging experience at Muhlenberg. It’s not a field for people who simply like children. It’s for dedicated students. “Unless you have something to teach, you’re a childcare worker,” says Milligan. “At Muhlenberg, teaching is an intellectual endeavor.
“The state is putting more rigorous demands on teacher-preparation programs,” she says, “but we are fortunate. We have always been where the state is now – requiring more and more liberal arts coursework. It’s our foundation. Eventually, other schools will have to catch up.”
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