Promoting Global Learning

Posted on March 8th, 2010 by

By Megan Gode ’10

“Our students need to see how the world looks at education,” says Debra Sandquist, coordinator of teacher admission and field experiences at Gustavus.  In an effort to promote such endeavors, Sandquist helped develop the Domestic and International Student Teaching Placement program.   Based on Gustavus’s new strategic plan, the program gives education majors an opportunity to complete part of their required student teaching through a seven-week program in a domestic or international location.

The six Gustavus student-teachers in Sotogrande, Spain fall 2009. From left to right: Alysha Thompson '10, Kate Sidlo '10, Laura Hillman '10, Chelsey Cook '10, Callie Nelsen '10 and, Emily Moran '09.

Throughout this unique student-teaching experience participants learn about the indigenous cultures and languages relative to the area, and take part in curriculum and instruction comparison studies.  Last semester, after seven weeks of local student teaching, six Gustavus students began their international student-teaching journey at a school in Sotogrande, Spain.  The students gained an understanding of the North African culture that exists in the area, worked on their Spanish skills, and developed an understanding of how teaching styles differ across cultures.

“Student-teaching abroad made me realize that there is so much in the world to be explored further,” says Laura Hillman ’10, one of the six student-teachers involved in the Sotogrande program.  “There are so many different ways to teach the same thing and as a future teacher I will take the knowledge I have gathered in America and Spain and combine them to determine what will work best for me and my future classroom.”

The Sotogrande program also promotes independent living and learning, as the six students lived in an apartment within a Professional Learning Community (PLC).  By doing so, the students developed cultural competency as they built relationships within the school and the local community.

Sandquist hopes that with such opportunities for growth, the students in this program – now and in the future — will be able to “engage with the world to make a difference.”  The program stretches the students to think beyond their personal environment.

“I see each and every day as a new day,” says Hillman.  “From the ride to school to my time inside the classroom walls, I am constantly viewing new things or viewing things in a different way. I take each day as a new day and new opportunity to learn and grow as a person and future teacher.”

Reflecting on her experience, Hillman now recognizes the difference she can make in her classroom, as she has realized the importance of individuality.  “Another thing that teaching at Sotogrande has shown me is how important it is to treat everyone as an individual. The school is extremely diverse, and they make an attempt to celebrate a whole range of holidays based on the nationalities present in the classrooms.”

During spring semester, selected education students will travel to and student-teach in Barrow, Alaska, home to the Native Inupiat Eskimo people.


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