Student Teaching Symposium #CountOnLearning

The final semester of college for most education majors is one of the most anticipated as they finally take on the role as a student teacher. Students are nervous, excited, anxious, and optimistic as they go into their student teaching position. Most students do not know what to expect during student teaching or how to prepare. Chelsey Oliver, UMF Class of 2017, felt the same way, as she would go to the symposium presentations every year looking for one about the student teaching experience. Year after year her searches came up short, so when it was her time to serve as a student teacher she decided to present at symposium about her experience.

Chelsey Oliver just graduated from the University of Maine at Farmington in the spring of 2017. During her final semester as a secondary education mathematics major, Chelsey completed her student teaching at Cony High School and Messalonskee Middle School. While education majors share their student teaching experience through portfolio presentations, Chelsey wanted to go beyond the units, lesson plans, and standards highlighted in portfolio presentations and also focus on the day-to-day experience of being a student teacher in a classroom. “A big part of my philosophy is collaborating with your colleagues, students, and teachers,” said Chelsey, “so this to me was the most exciting presentation I would give.”

Chelsey started her presentation by going over the daily schedule at both schools and comparing them. She touched upon some of the ‘out of the classroom’ components that came with student teaching, such as leaving the house in the morning when it is still dark out and getting home when it was dark out. Chelsey described some of the various programs and blocks in the school day, such as “RAM Time” at Cony High School, which was when teachers could meet one-on-one with students who may need help if they were absent, falling behind, or needed to finish a test. This was a great time for teachers to check-in with their students.

After going over the schedules, Chelsey emphasized the importance of self care and scheduling “me time.” As a teacher, you are constantly planning, grading, teaching, and working even when you are not at school. It is important to take care of yourself, and Chelsey did so by getting fresh air, meal prepping for the week ahead of time, and reflecting on her day.

Chelsey then gave a few classroom management tips, such as having a bin to leave work in for students who were absent. She also discussed making homework meaningful. She found that her students would do their homework, she would give feedback, and they would toss it in the trash. Chelsey then began assigning homework that required the students to talk about their struggles, their mistakes, a conversation they had with her that day, and to just personally reflect. This gave Chelsey a more personal look into her students’ lives as well. Chelsey then discussed technology and how it can be integrated into the classroom. Then, Chelsey touched upon her experience in UMF’s Student MEA (Maine Education Association) and how the various conferences, experiences, and collaborations that she participated in helped her develop as a professional.

 

Finally, Chelsey discussed the benefits of social media and how teachers can learn from each other. There are various Instagram pages, bloggers, and websites where teachers share their lessons, ideas, classroom management tips, and anything else you could imagine. Chelsey has also taken to social media and created a professional Twitter account (@countonlearning) and Instagram page (@countonlearning207) to share her teaching experience.

Chelsey’s student teaching experience was very meaningful to her, especially since she was able to personally share it at her symposium presentation. As the first student to present about their student teaching experience at symposium, she may have started a new trend as other UMF education majors will wish to share their experience as well. Congratulations to Chelsey and the rest of the UMF Class of 2017, and good luck as your begin your teaching career!

Teaching Abroad: From Maine to South Korea

The University of Maine at Farmington currently has four teacher candidates conducting their student teaching at the Daegu International School in Daegu, South Korea. The Daegu International School (DIS) has a partnership with UMF that allows students to conduct their student teaching internationally while meeting all of the requirements to receive their degree. Tori Lands and Kayla Girardin were able to share their experience and discuss various challenges, opportunities, and stores from their experience.

Student teaching abroad provides students with the opportunity to use and build on their skills and professional development while traveling and immersing in a new culture. Tori  always had an interest in studying abroad but was not sure if it would work out for her in an education major, until she learned about student teaching abroad. “I believe that one of the most important responsibilities educators have is to help guide students to becoming global citizens,” says Tori, while discussing some of the reasoning behind her decision to go abroad. “I feel as if my time at UMF both as a secondary education/ social studies major and an International Global Studies minor have greatly influenced my ability to be a compassionate and conscientious member of society. I hope to be able to foster these qualities in my future students and feel as if going abroad is allowing me to build on the foundation UMF gave me as well as develop my own understanding of what it means to be apart of the global community.”

While teaching abroad, students are exposed to a different school system and classroom structure that they may not be used to. It can be challenging going into a new classroom with expectations and situations that you may not have experiences with. Kayla found this to be a challenge at first. “Many of my students are ESL (English as a Second Language), which challenges me to differentiate instructional strategies,” she said. “There is no Special Education here, so there may be students with learning differences who do not receive services because there are none to offer.  It is interesting for me to see the difference between the way disability is perceived here compared to the United States since I have a minor in Special Education.” Kayla has since adjusted to these challenges and has been able to connect to her students, which she believes is the most important aspect of teaching.

Tori has found the cultural differences between Maine and the students she teaches at DIS to be most interesting. Maine is not as diverse as DIS, as Tori has students in her classroom from Korea, America, China, the Philippines, Japan, Australia- just to name a few. The diversity in her classroom has allowed her to learn from her students as well. “Instead of just reading about different cultures and countries these students can share personal stories and experiences,” Tori said. “It has been challenging to make sure I am sharing content in a way that makes sense to all the different learners in my classroom and making U.S. history relevant to students who may have only been to the states once or twice is interesting.” Both Tori and Kayla believe the cultural experience that students gain when teaching abroad has been much richer than teaching at home in the states.

Are you interested in students teaching or studying abroad, but don’t know where to start?

There are many resources on campus to help, including your academic advisor, the Financial Aid department, the Study Abroad office, and more! “The logistics of planning for the trip can get hectic and overwhelming, so don’t be afraid to ask questions,” advises Kayla. “Reach out to people who have done it before and see what they have to say about it.  Research the country you’re going to and be aware of the culture, history, and language.  See if there are any places nearby you would like to travel to during any breaks and work those costs into your budget.  If you’re going to be abroad, make the most of it! Your student teaching responsibilities come first, but don’t forget to truly experience the country you’re in.  Get involved as much as you can with the school as well because it will help you make more connections with teachers and students.”

It can be scary and overwhelming to go abroad, but students find it to be very worth it. “I think it is easy to stay in places and environments that are comfortable and when thinking about the joys and obstacles that come with student teaching it may seem overwhelming to go abroad, but I have already seen growth in both myself and my teaching because of this experience,” says Tori. “I am confident that it will have lasting benefits in both my personal and professional life.”

If you are interested in studying or teaching abroad, you are encouraged to talk to your advisor and whomever else might be able to provide more information about the process. Take advantage of the opportunities that UMF offers, as these opportunities may not present themselves again.

Thank you Tori and Kayla for sharing your expereince in South Korea so far. On behalf of the UMF community, we wish you luck with the remainder of your endeavors.