Frequently Asked Questions and Concerns about the Project:
Isn’t this a math/science focused student teaching placement? My endorsement is in a different area.
This is a typical student teaching placement where you will be responsible to teach all subjects in which you will be licensed. This includes English/Language Arts, math, social studies, and science. Like any student teaching experience, you’ll work with the normal schedule of the school day. The only difference is that you’ll have extra help with math and science teaching that other student teachers don’t have access to.
A single placement is different than everyone else gets, so isn’t this a bad thing?
Actually, no. It’s a better situation than other student teachers have. You already have had school placements in both lower and upper elementary settings. A single placement across the 16 weeks means that you have more time to teach. Research on single vs. split placements has shown consistently that those who have a 16-week placement do better in the classroom. Many other universities only offer 16-week placements.
I’m nervous about Des Moines.
This is precisely why you should take advantage of this opportunity. Elementary teaching positions are very difficult to obtain, and principals are looking for candidates whose resumes stand above the others. If your only experiences are with relatively affluent children, you have no evidence that you can teach children with more diverse backgrounds. Even if your goal is to teach in a rural area, having an urban experience sends a strong message to a principal that you care about the learning of all children and have the skill set to do so. In addition, student teaching in an urban setting is a very safe way to gain this experience—you’ll be surrounded by an experienced cooperating teacher, the engineering graduate student, your university supervisor, and others who provide the support that you need to excel. Faculty and staff involved in this project have many years of experience working in urban settings, and you’ll find that the kids there are amazing, appreciative, love to learn, and have the same goals and aspirations as children in other settings.
I don’t like math or science, and really see myself teaching English/Language Arts.
Because you’ll be licensed with a multiple subject K-5 teaching license, you are required to meet state standards in English/Language Arts, math, social studies and science. The reason NSF is providing funding for this project is because they know that Elementary Education majors are most nervous about teaching science and math. They want to help us provide you extra support.
What would be expected of me?
Meet your cooperating teacher and engineering fellow at a dinner before your student teaching experience begins. Attend a 2-day workshop with your assigned cooperating teacher and engineering graduate student. While there, you’ll spend the time going over the curriculum that your teacher covers in the classroom. Working as a team to decide how you’ll teach the required math and science grade appropriate concepts. Project faculty and staff will also be there to help. Thus, you’ll start the school year with much of your science already planned, freeing up your time to work on ELA, math, and social studies. You’ll continue to collaborate with the engineering graduate student one day each week in your classroom by working together to find resources, structuring lesson plans, co-teaching lessons, working with individuals and groups of kids, etc. The final responsibility of the project is to help us get your feedback by filling out a few instruments online, and participating in an interview at the end of the experience.