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Future teachers gain classroom experience

By Jacob Luplow ’16

During the second week of Block 3, 23 students from two education courses spent a full week assisting and observing in local classrooms.

Kerry Bostwick and education  students

Education Professor Kerry Bostwick engages with students on campus following their practicum experiences.

These 40-hour practicums provide education students real-time, immersive experiences in the classroom as preparation for their 14-week student teaching requirement during their senior year. Cornell elementary and secondary education majors enter student teaching well prepared, as they are required to fulfill between two and four 40-hour practicums.

During Block 3, Kerry Bostwick taught Methods of Elementary Science and Social Studies. Meanwhile Jill Heinrich taught Reading in the Content Areas for secondary education students.

The students in Bostwick’s course learned how to develop teaching objectives, lesson plans, and learning assessments during the first week of the block. Then they integrated these skills in elementary school environments.

Once they finished in the field, they came back together for the last two weeks of the block to complete a micro teaching assignment that they delivered to their peers, and a final project, which entailed a two-week interdisciplinary unit plan.

Bostwick said the practicums help give more depth to the classroom work back on campus. “The students came back asking better and more focused questions in regards to their in-class learning at Cornell,” she said.

Sophomore Hana Martin, a Spanish and secondary education major in Heinrich’s course, performed a range of tasks during her practicum, including taking notes, grading quizzes, and occasionally preparing and teaching a lesson. “I realized just how much teaching has to do with classroom management—mediating disputes, regulating behavior, and encouraging participation, to name a few,” she said.

Another benefit of the practicums is that they give students early opportunities to assess, and possibly adjust, their career plans.

“I had in my mind that I wanted to teach at the junior high level. However, this experience showed me I am capable of teaching at the high school grade level, too,” said sophomore Alison Sojka, a mathematics and secondary education major.