As the new semester begins, education majors are receiving their field placements. These are the classroom assignments in public schools around Berkshire County where MCLA students will be working and learning to teach students.
Simply sitting in classrooms is not enough for these majors as they strive to become the people who stand up in front of a room full of students. The hands-on opportunity of this program allows students to get their feet wet getting practice as the teachers.
“Students get to practice skills in the classroom setting that teachers need to have,” says Daniel Rapp, education department chair. “They get to work with students not only one-on-one but also in small groups.”
MCLA education majors granted this opportunity are preparing to rise up to the challenge.
“I am looking forward to getting a hands-on experience in the classroom with these kids,” says Hannah Sorenson, class of 2020 and elementary education and interdisciplinary studies major. “As well as learning from an experienced teacher.”
Sorenson has been placed in a sixth-grade classroom at Williams Elementary. With a concentration in math and science, she will have the opportunity to observe how these subjects are taught within the curriculum.
Besides observing, MCLA students will also need to teach two lessons to their classrooms.
“These experiences build not only confidence but understanding and empathy as well,” explains Rapp.
Coordinator of Educator Licensure and Placement Nancy Pearlman has the responsibility of placing the education majors in the classrooms around Berkshire County. According to Pearlman, students fill out a form with their education advisor then submit it to her for placement.
“We do try and be aware of where students live and their access to transportation,” explains Rapp. “But we have sent students even down to South County to Lee and Great Barrington.”
The MCLA education department has also just recently implemented a new 4+1 program. The program is designed so students can obtain both a teaching license and a Master of Education (M.E.––d) on an accelerated pathway of five years. As the program is new it is rising juniors who are applying to get into it.
According to an article posted on the MCLA website, Amanda Botelho, Class of 2020, is participating in the 4+1 program.
“Being able to get a master’s in five years is awesome. It will help me save time and money, and jump into my career sooner,” said Botelho in the article.
Within that program students will participate in their field placements.
“Teacher availability and the approval of the school principal is a key factor,” explains Pearlman. “Some students already have a Field Placement teacher or school in mind and we work together to make sure everything is in place.”
Megan Richardson, a junior who is double majoring in math and secondary education with a minor in history, was assigned her second field placement.
“I am currently enrolled in Field II which is the last pre-practicum before student teaching,” says Richardson. “This semester I am placed at my old high school, Hoosac Valley Middle and High School and last spring I was placed at McCann Tech.”
Field placements are given to sophomores and juniors, followed by a semester of student teaching during senior year. As student teachers, the MCLA students become the teacher, from designing lessons plans to grading the papers.
“I am really looking forward to discovering more about my teaching style and philosophy,” says Richardson. “We are required to teach three lessons in Field Placement II so I am excited to get feedback to see what I am doing well and how I can further improve my practice.”