Education department raises student teaching hours for fall semester 2007

Education majors will soon be required to have more student teaching hours in order to graduate.

With the current teaching hour requirements at 350, by fall of 2007 the requirements will reach 560 hours.

Dr. Al Cade, internim head of the education department, said for students, this will mean spending the entire semester student teaching.

Originally, students usually began their student teaching hours half-way through the semester, which Cade said prevents them from learning valuable information about the classroom. He said doubling the field experience requirements will produce more “polished” graduates from the program.

“It’s important for them to see how the teachers establish their own culture in the classroom,” Cade said.

Cade said students starting their field experiences before the school year will allow them to get more hands-on experience in the classroom.

“We provide real life opportunities for our students,” said Dr. Glen Coltharp, professor of education.

“What we’ve done is we’ve increased the hours that students are out in the program,” Coltharp said. “And, how we’ve tried to do it is juggle the hours so they’re not having to enroll in more hours, but they’re getting more clock hours of time out in the classrooms.”

He said the increase in hours will not interfere with the students core classes and the senior block classes will be formatted to suit the students needs.

“In fall 2007, they’ll have a full semester of student teaching, but they’ll still come back for classes during that time periodically,” Coltharp said.

Through research, he said the department found students could greatly benefit from more field experience.

“As part of our accreditation process, we have to survey our first year graduates, second year on up, plus the administrators that receive our teachers,” Coltharp said.

He said the results of the assessment showed many graduates from Southern wished they had spent more time with the children.

Current students approaching graduation in the education field said they agree with the extension of student teaching requirements.

“I wish I would’ve had another class with English as a second language,” said Laticia Njoume, junior elementary education major. “Any extra hours that we have with the children is a plus.”

“In a way, I think I’ll miss out, because I’ll have less time in the classroom,” said Elizabeth Reynolds, senior elementary education major. “I can see how it might extend people’s time in school.”

She said the time factor is important.

“They’ll have more time actually managing a classroom, which is the hardest thing about being a teacher,” Reynolds said. “Can you imagine what it would be like to have 30 kids and just be thrown in there and you’ve only had a little experience actually managing them. And then you get a job and you’re suppose to be able to do it.”

She said there is a difference between taking the class and teaching the class.

“One thing is reading about it and another thing is actually doing it,” Reynolds said. “With anything, the more you practice something, the better you are able to do it.”