News & Events

Partnership Gives Education Students a Hands-On Lesson

July 30, 2009

Before students leave her Foundations of Educational Psychology course, Assistant Professor of Education Elizabeth Bloom wants to make sure they have the tools necessary to stand in front of their own classrooms as the next generation of teachers.

To help them get to that point, she has partnered with 3rd grade teacher Ken Sider at Riverside Elementary School in Oneonta to put Hartwick students in front of real classrooms. There, they bring their lessons to life by designing lesson plans, working with students, and fielding questions. The course has taken what students have learned in the Hartwick classroom—psychological and emotional development, motivational theories, and lesson plans—and applied it to real-life teaching situations.

“This collaboration serves to get pre-service teachers into the classroom really early in their college careers,” Bloom said. “I truly hand over the lesson planning to them and they go in and actually teach six times during the semester. This involves a lot of hard work, frustration, and joy. The learning they do with this is beyond what I could give them in the classroom talking about teaching and learning. They get to see firsthand what the theories and concepts we study in class look like in real life.”

Working with students in four Riverside classrooms, Bloom’s students introduced lessons about chocolate, occupations, transportation, and fair and non-fair trade. Along the way, they were able to learn different behaviorist strategies and the different ways elementary students learn, said Gabby Dello ’10, a History major in the Education program. That time in the classroom gave them new ideas and strategies to create effective lesson plans that will reach out to all students.

“This places us directly in the classroom as teachers, giving us firsthand experiences that are beneficial to our success as future educators,” she said. “We could sit in the classroom as students all day and read our textbooks front to back, but nothing is as advantageous as the practical applications and experiences we learn from teaching at Riverside.”

“We were able to get in a classroom, start learning what it takes to prepare for a lesson, conduct a lesson, and learn how to be an actual teacher,” added Abby Wright ’12, a Sociology major in the Education program. “We were able to deal with real classroom situations, prepare for successful lessons, and improve on weaker lessons. Being in the classroom just five times has taught me more than any book about teaching has been able to teach me. I like that Hartwick is giving me experiences that I can use in my own future classrooms.”

Assistant Director of Athletics for Internal Operations Eric Nichols took Bloom’s course as part of the process toward becoming a New York State certified teacher, and said the experience of teaching at Riverside was beneficial to Hartwick students in several ways.

“First, our students get to experience the profession that they are pursuing and to make sure that they understand all that is involved with teaching,” he said. “They also actually apply the knowledge they are gaining in the Hartwick classroom and get to put it into practice. This exercise allows the students the opportunity to gain insight on how they will adapt their personalities into their classrooms when they complete their student-teaching requirement. It’s a wonderful opportunity for our students to gain real-world experience and further build their résumés.”

The opportunity for the students to participate in real teaching scenarios also brings another experiential-learning component to the Education program, which also includes January Term programs, internships, conferences, and job-shadowing opportunities. Students are able to use their on-campus studies in off-campus settings that require preparation, accountability, and interaction with colleagues and students.

“We aren't making fictitious lesson plans; we are responsible for educating real 3rd graders,” Raimie Utterback ’09 said. “If we aren't prepared, they are the ones who suffer—it isn't just a bad grade for us. This has put me a step ahead of others entering the teaching field. I haven't just learned the theories, I have witnessed where they came from.”

“Experiences like going to Riverside are invaluable to my education,” she said. “Learning by doing is one of the best forms of education. Actually going to a classroom and having to teach real students adds to the level of accountability.”

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Hartwick College is a private liberal arts and sciences college of 1,480 students, located in Oneonta, NY, in the northern foothills of the Catskill Mountains. Hartwick’s expansive Liberal Arts in Practice curriculum merges traditional liberal arts study, personalized teaching, and experiential learning approaches to emphasize Connecting the Classroom to the World. Add to that a wide range of off-campus internships, collaborative research, study-abroad opportunities, and a unique January Term, and Hartwick prepares students for the world ahead. Strong financial aid and scholarship programs keep a Hartwick education affordable.

Contact: Jennifer Moritz
Phone: 607-431-4038