Friday, October 1, 2010

Practice - The Other Cornerstone

Theory and practice; theory and practice; you cannot have one without the other. All of the good thinking about teaching and learning our students do has limited value if they cannot practice their ideas and skills with real students in real classrooms. At St. Michael's we are blessed with a remarkable variety of classroom settings where our teacher licensure candidates can gain experience working with students representing the entire spectrum of the K -12 population. Here's a Google map with links to all the schools we use for our field placements.

I know it's hard to believe when one considers Vermont but we are situated in a remarkably diverse area in terms of the types of schools and student populations in those schools. Both the Burlington and Winooski school districts, each less than 5 miles from campus, are resettlement centers for immigrants to the US (the children are called "newcomers" in the schools) from all over the world. Something like 40 different languages are spoken in schools in these two school districts alone. We celebrate this diversity as a gift to our local culture.

Schools range from relatively large to significantly small, from new to old, and from private to public, from rural to suburban to inner city and from more or less homogeneous to completely heterogeneous in terms of the ethnic, SES and cultural backgrounds of the student body. This incredible diversity means that students pursuing teacher licensure through either of the two licensure programs (K - 6 or 7 - 12) gain experience working in all types of educational settings and with all types of students, faculty and administrators.

The public school classroom-based experiences begin with the very first Education course and are an integral part of every Education course in some way culminating with the full semester student teaching experience. All the full time faculty in the Education Department work with students in public and private schools settings so our theories and ideologies remain grounded
in practice.
That's Sahar, one of the fifth graders at the Barnes Sustainability Academy in Burlington.

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