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Students Teachers To Practice Abroad

By Erin Orgeman
UWRF University Communications

SEPT. 21, 2007--For every student teacher at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, the new people and surroundings they experience in the student teaching sites in the region bring new experiences. For some UWRF student teachers who want to experience teaching on another level, they decide to leave the country to practice their skills.

The Consortium for Overseas Student Teaching (COST) program at UWRF allows students to gain their experience abroad for a semester of their choice after they have completed nine weeks of student teaching in the United States. They then continue their student teaching in another country for nine weeks.

This fall, eight students with be participating in this program, with two students going to South Africa, two to Australia, three to New Zealand, and one to Ireland.

Anna Parsons, one of the students traveling to New Zealand, decided to enroll in this program because opportunities for teachers to study abroad are not as easy to coordinate as for other students.

"For teachers it is extremely difficult to study abroad because it is already at least a 4 1/2 year program," says Parsons. "I am an early childhood major and that is a five-year program, so if I studied abroad I wouldn't be out for six years." For many student teachers, taking the opportunity to practice teach abroad is the best option for them.

These teachers are placed in English-speaking schools or American schools in non-English speaking countries, says Teri Crotty, program director for COST. Most are nonprofit, nondenominational or private schools established for bilingual instruction for student teachers. Students are placed with host families or dormitories.

This opportunity also gives students new ways to approach their curriculum when they return to the United States, says Crotty, and adapting to a new country and a new way of life with prepares them to adapt to their students' different needs.

"Students have a chance to look at themselves with a worldview and become more sensitive to other people's cultures," she says.            

This program has been something that Crotty has been involved in for eight years. While after the terror attacks of Sept. 22, 2001, participation in the program decreased due to the reluctance of students not wanting to travel to other countries, Crotty said that participation in the program is on the rise again.

Many students may wonder how they can prepare to make a choice and a move like this. Even though they may be speaking their own language, the culture change may be a bit startling. Crotty says she helps relieve these nerves by holding individual consultations with students before they leave. Students also contact their supervisor at the school where they will teach and get advice and information about what that specific needs that school may need.

Crotty says the Global Connections office on campus is working on organizing group orientations for COST, which would benefit students because they talk to others who are going to participate in a similar experience.

The experience helps student teachers in their job search and in creating their future curriculums back home, Crotty says. By establishing a relationship with the class from another country at which they've taught, they can create a project that allows a class in the United States to correspond with a class from across the globe.

Anna Parsons, a senior elementary education major from Red Wing, Minn., is going to teach in New Zealand, believes the experience will be valuable in her job search in the United States. " I believe the best teachers are ones that take opportunities to learn from other people and adapt to their own way of teaching," says Parsons. "My going to New Zealand will allow me to see a whole new way of life and use these cultural opportunities to guide my instruction."

Students who are interested in this program must apply one year prior to their semester of student teaching. For the fall 2008 semester, applications are due Dec. 7, and for the spring 2009 semester, applications are due April 1, 2008. For more information, contact: Nora Koch, program assistant in the College of Education and Professional Studies, 256 Wyman Education Building, nora.l.koch@uwrf.edu.

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Last updated: Thursday, 22-Apr-2010 16:08:30 Central Daylight Time

 

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