Lauren Mangine, a sophomore education major, does fieldwork at Marshall Elementary School working with a class of first graders. She and other education majors shared their experiences with fieldwork and their thoughts on SHU’s education program in general.
“It’s just a really really good program, it’s very hands on and I really like it,” Mangine said. “It makes me proud to be in it.”
She has the opportunity to plan two lessons throughout the semester.
The program involves student teaching once a week in which the student observes a teacher and gets to plan lessons. In this program for first semester sophomores, students work with students in kindergarten through second grade. They are required to work a total of 60 hours per semester. They typically alternate between an urban and rural area for fieldwork each semester sophomore year. This semester Mangine is in a rural area.
She described how the students are always asking questions, constantly wanting to know more. They are also at an egotistical age, where they relate topics back to themselves. Because of this, she must simplify topics.
This entails a focus on phonics and vocabulary among other aspects. She she said that she often she has to think about different ways to present the information in a way that the children will understand.
Mangine said that this task is occasionally difficult but worth the challenge.
“I think the most challenging part is being able to communicate on their level, but I think it’s also really rewarding when you see so much progress be made,” she said.
She also explained other benefits of the program. Working with the teacher, she was quickly able to get involved with the class. The teacher follows a certain set of standards that Mangine said she admired. For example, the teacher stressed self-control and how the students should speak to others.
Sydney Feinberg, a junior secondary education and english major, discussed how fieldwork helped her better understand the world of education.
“The program and its classes have opened my eyes further into what it means to become a teacher and just how much hard work teachers do,” Feinberg said.
Two other juniors in the education program, Olivia Neiman and Elizabeth Newman, said that their experiences in the program were fulfilling, in part because they had professors to help guide them along the way.
“Without these placements [in various classrooms], writing tedious lesson plans doesn’t seem worth it,” Neiman said. “But making a change in student’s lives and having the opportunity to bond with them is a gift.”
According to these students, the timing of placement tests can cause some difficulty for students looking to start their fieldwork.
“It would be better if placements were able to take place in the fall instead of in the spring because many teachers are overwhelmed in the spring,” Newman said. “In my experience, teachers are more willing to give the interns more opportunities in the fall than in the spring.” She added that, though this presents a potential difficulty, it has not prevented her from getting the most she can out of the program.
Daniel D’Amico can be reached at email@example.com.