Woodring program benefits Western students, Whatcom middle-schoolers

Submitted by Western Today on Fri, 01/22/2016 - 11:29am

This past fall, Western students from Woodring College’s Secondary Education department dove head first into teaching as they entered their first quarter in the program. For their class, an introduction to general teaching methods, the Western students had the opportunity to work with sixth-grade students as pre-service teachers at Whatcom Middle School.  

They spent fall quarter working with classes and in the library, where they were able to take a hands-on approach to teaching and were given the chance to practice course concepts in a real classroom.

Lauren McClanahan and Don Burgess, both Secondary Education professors at Woodring, were able to help their students gain real world experience by conducting their class on-site at Whatcom Middle School. McClanahan believes that this new approach to teaching their general methods course was beneficial for both the Western pre-service students and the sixth graders.

“By seeing (and being seen) how a school community operates, our students are better prepared to face the challenges that teaching presents.  For many of our students, this "early and often" approach to working in classrooms further solidifies their desire to teach,” she said.

The students planned and taught eight lessons, surrounding the structural theme of Carol Dweck’s book “Mindset.” The days that the students were not teaching in the classroom they spent in the middle school library, planning for their next lesson.

Although McClanahan says this is a new approach to teaching the general methods course, she wants to be clear that this model is not an exception in the Secondary Education department, but more often the rule.

“We value providing our students--from their first quarter in the program to their last--plenty of opportunities to interact with middle and high school students and schools,” she said.

McClanahan was able to capture the experiences of the pre-service students, and produce a video that displays how beneficial and exciting the program is for first-quarter students.

“I hope you might find time to watch this video produced by Lauren McClanahan.  It demonstrates the power of the residency experiences for secondary education candidates.  It’s a wonderful testimony to the importance of school-university collaborations,” said Francisco Rios, the dean of Woodring College of Education.