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Student Teaching in Other Countries

student teacher with her students in class

International student teaching is a unique opportunity for some Wheaton College education majors. There are many practicums embedded in the Wheaton Teacher Education Program (WheTEP) from cross-cultural tutoring to teacher aiding to a methods practicum, culminating in a full-time student teaching placement during the final year. Student teaching is a 13-14 week teaching experience in a school under the mentorship of an licensed and experienced teacher. A few students at Wheaton consider the option to complete this requirement in an international placement. These students first apply the spring of their sophomore year for provisional approval. If students are provisionally accepted, they weekly meet with Dr. Egeland through their junior year in preparation for this unique opportunity. Applicants have some input on placements, but the international schools must be accredited and use an English language and have a licensed mentor teacher. Over the past 20 years, Wheaton has sent students to every continent (except Antarctica) for student teaching, visiting countries from Thailand to Tanzania to Austria to Brazil.

Why Student Teach Abroad?

There are many reasons students decide to complete their student teaching internationally. Some have a deep passion for learning about other cultures and want “to see how education would be different” in another country, states Corinne Bryan, currently student teaching in Ecuador. Students are able to combine both a required student teaching experience and a study abroad experience that may be otherwise difficult to fit in the structure of the education program through international student teaching. Regardless of what draws students to international student teaching, there are highlights and challenges as well as surprises. Some challenges involved in international student teaching are juggling meetings and “balancing my life at school and my life at home”, according to Corinne at Alliance Academy. Many student teachers also struggle with loneliness and adjusting to a new culture.

380x250Though the experience can be challenging, there are many rewards. For example, student teachers may have the opportunity to complete their student teaching at a Christian international school which provides a unique experience. Jozua van Bakel (currently student teaching English language arts in Taiwan) and Anna James (currently student teaching third grade in Colombia) note activities such as “chapel, small group, and devotions” are a highlight. Eugene Oh (currently in Taiwan) is student teaching in a Christian school, but most of her students are not Christians. For Corinne Bryan, “getting to know the students and learning about their backgrounds and experiences” is the best part. Others like Maggie Rhee and Abby Grace McGee (both in Ethiopia) student teach in secular international schools, and teach International Baccalaureate (IB or PYP) curriculum. In all international student teaching placements, student teachers experience an incredible amount of growth as they hone their teaching skills, experience a new culture, and develop more independence. Overall, international student teaching is an enriching opportunity for WheTEP students to learn in a new context, relying on God every step of the way.

Text and photos contributed by Emily Heidick, who student taught in Kenya the fall of 2018


Illinois Changes Requirements for Subsequent Endorsements

The Illinois State Board of Education recently changed the requirements for additional endorsements that can be added to an Initial Illinois Professional Educator License (PEL). Whether one is an elementary education major, a secondary education double major or majoring in music education or a world language, additional endorsements allow the licensed educator to teach in other disciplines beyond the original license.

Secondary education majors typically earn a grades 5-8 middle grade endorsement in their content area, a subsequent endorsement added to their Secondary/High School grade 9-12 license. ESL and Special Education are the endorsements most frequently added by students majoring in elementary education. All subsequent endorsements also require passing a state content test, with the exception of the ESL endorsement.

Until December, 2019, these additional endorsements required 18-24 hours of coursework and many had specific designations of courses toward the endorsement. Now these endorsements all require only 18 credit hours, and specific Christ at the Core general education course hours can count toward the discipline-specific endorsements. The four middle grade endorsements (math, general science, ELA, and social science) still require a content-specific methods course. These two-hour courses are typically offered in the spring semester, with the exception of the middle grade general science methods course, currently offered in the fall.

Another change is that Wheaton can offer subsequent endorsements in content areas which do not currently offer an initial teaching license. For instance, a Wheaton student can now add an endorsement in art or psychology by completing 18 hours in the discipline and passing the state content test for that field.

For more information about specific endorsements, contact the Education Department. Details about many of the endorsements are also found in the Forms for Current Students on the department's website.



The Power and Sequence of Education Practica

Wheaton College Teacher Education Program (WheTEP) offers a substantial practical or experiential component throughout the four years of the college program. Starting in a student’s freshman year, there are opportunities to gain experience working with elementary, middle grade and high school students. This begins with cross-cultural tutoring, continues with teacher aiding, expands with a learning differences practicum combined with a methods practicum, and culminates with a semester of student teaching. Mrs. Karen Felker secures the placements and has a close connection to partner schools in the area and provides guidance on the finer points of these practica while experienced college supervisors guide students through these practica.

To begin, students participate in the Cross-Cultural Tutoring Practicum. This practicum requires 24 hours of academic tutoring spread out over 1-2 semesters and provides students the opportunity to work with students from different cultural and/or linguistic backgrounds. There are many after school tutoring opportunities through the college’s Christian Service Council. Professor Sara Vroom Fick is the advisor for this practicum and describes it this way – “I think of it as having a threefold purpose: Learn how students’ backgrounds impact their interaction with teachers, schools and education in general; see the assets students bring to life and learning from their various backgrounds; and begin to see teaching as a reflective practice and engage in that practice."

The second practicum is the Teacher Aiding Practicum, completed in conjunction with EDUC 225, Learning and Development, one of the foundational courses in the teacher education program. Students spend 30 hours in a local public or private school working with a licensed teacher of elementary or middle grade students. According to Dr. IL-Hee Kim, “This practicum involves observing students, teaching a mini-lesson, helping the teacher with clerical duties such as photocopying, grading assignments, gathering materials, arranging displays, working with individual or small groups of students, assisting in supervision of school activities, and completing other tasks assigned by the teacher.” Wheaton students get to experience what a real classroom is like as well as demonstrate their own growing professionalism.

Following this, all teacher education students participate in a at least 60 hours of a combined methods practicum and learning differences practicum. This is generally in the same placement and with the same cooperating teacher(s) as those for the student teaching semester which follows. The elementary methods practicum only occurs in the spring semester, while the secondary and K-12 methods practicum is offered both semesters. These placements typically take place in a local public school, with the added opportunity of completing the practicum in our Chicago partner K-8 elementary school. Students gain more classroom experience by crafting lessons and assessments as well as developing some classroom management skills.

Finally, WheTEP culminates with 13-14 weeks of a student teaching practicum in a local public school, based on the content/major and grade level preferences, with other options including a private school, the partner school in Chicago, or an international school. All student teachers have at least one mentoring (cooperating) teacher as well as a supervisor from the college. When finished with all this practicum, student teachers are expected to be ready to initiate a job search for a teaching position.

Contributed by Emily Heidick '19