Undergraduates gain experience teaching overseasBy esljoblinks I Australia / Oceania, East Asia, Europe I 0 comment
Before they graduate Eastern, education majors have the opportunity to apply to do their student teaching overseas.
It is an opportunity awarded to 10 Eastern students a year through the Consortium for Overseas Student Teaching.
Jim Kestner, the academic adviser for the COST program, said the consortium includes participants from 15 other schools in the United States.
“The biggest thing these students gain is a worldly perspective,” he said. “When they student-teach abroad, they are often introduced to very different approaches to education.”
Kestner said one of his students reported the difficulty of having multiple grade levels in one classroom to teach.
“When they come back, they think about the students and how best to reach them instead of just ‘this is what education is,’” he said.
Many students stay in touch with their cooperative teachers in other countries and can later use those connections for networking and perspective, Kestner said.
Kestner said students go through an application process when they apply that includes essays, recommendation letters and an interview.
“Most of our students will say that student teaching is one of the hardest things they’ve ever done in their lives,” he said. “We try to gauge how likely students are to thrive in a different environment.”
Kestner said the number of applicants to student teach overseas varies from year to year.
“We always have more applicants than we can send, and I always agonize over how many I can send,” he said.
Tim Patula, a COST program participant, said the program provided him with opportunities he will never forget.
“(COST) has challenged me in ways that I would not have experienced in the U.S.,” he said. “It provided me with the opportunity to take my skills to a place I never thought I would visit—Perth, Australia—and apply my skills on the other side of the world.”
Patula said his trip gave him the chance to better himself as a teacher and conquer his fears.
“The COST program is an experience of a lifetime,” he said.
A COST participant last fall, Nicole Menzer, said student teaching overseas in Ireland benefited her both professionally and personally.
“I learned how to have a love and appreciation for cultures other than my own,” she said. “I was able to learn and teach in a completely different and diverse education system, which is something schools in the U.S. look highly upon.”
Kestner said students are always overwhelmingly positive about their experiences when they get back to the U.S.
“They can’t believe how excited they are to teach when they come back,” he said. “A fair number of them are also very open to the possibility of teaching in a foreign country.”
The program seeks to provide students with experience teaching in countries such as Australia, Ireland, Germany and China.
“We want our students to come back knowing that (student teaching overseas) was the best experience of their life,” he said.