Mar 242013
 

reflector

By Katherine Ayers

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Quality and quantity.

That is how Liz Fogarty, the assistant chair of elementary and middle grades education in East Carolina University’s College of Education, described what the college does best: provide a quality education to about 700 newly-minted teachers each year.

“You could concentrate your efforts on a small number of students and get great results, yet somehow at ECU we’re able to do that with very large numbers of students,” Fogarty said. “We tend to have the most or second most initially licensed teachers in the state and yet the quality is very high.”

That may be because students start working in actual classrooms with the very first class they take, usually in their sophomore year after they have finished their general education classes.

As a sophomore and junior, students observe teachers in subjects like language arts, math and social studies, but also music, physical education and health.

As seniors, they spend one day a week in the fall and five days a week in the spring actually teaching lessons at their clinical school site. Eventually, a student must teach 15 consecutive days in their clinical classrooms.

Kristen Cuthrell, the associate chair of the Department of Elementary and Middle Grades Education at ECU, said people do not realize the strong relationships they have with public schools around the state who will take interns — who used to be called student teachers — and mentor them as they progress through their classes.

“We’re very lucky in Pitt County and all of Eastern North Carolina to have a strong clinical schools network,” said Kristen Cuthrell, the associate chair of the Department of Elementary and Middle Grades Education at ECU. “We have all the public schools who have agreed to partner with us to work to better East Carolina students by allowing them to come out and do practicums and internships.”

Both Fogarty and Cuthrell dispute the notion that anyone can be a teacher.

“That’s probably as ludicrous an idea as me thinking I can go an run a business,” Fogarty said. “My knowledge of business is limited, so if you were to put me in that field, I would flounder and fail miserably.

“The same is true of an untrained teacher,” she said. “Any time there’s a field where there is expertise that people have to gain, the more training, the better training they get, the better they will do.”

Cuthrell said there is evidence that ECU graduates will be successful.

“That’s our end game here,” she said. “We are here to help our pre-service candidates be better teachers in their future classrooms so their students can achieve.”

ECU’s program focuses on helping students learn to be flexible.

“We train them to teach children in the most developmentally appropriate ways using the most cutting edge technology,” Fogarty said. “And doing so in ways that would meet the expectations of our times, but also, in this age of accountability, scoring well on standardized tests.

“But we also know that 10 years from now there might be a different emphasis in education,” she said. “We want to teach our ECU students how to educate well in any age, regardless of what the current (fad) is.”

Contact Katherine Ayers at kayers@reflector.com and 252-329-9567. Follow her on Twitter @KatieAyersGDR.

via The Daily Reflector.

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