According to Deb Gillman, middle school principal, elementary licensure requirements have changed. In the past, students only needed a kindergarten to sixth grade certificate. Now they need kindergarten to eighth grade (K to 8) certification.
"The certification is changing because there are a lot more middle school programs in schools," Gillman said. For a long time, teachers in the middle school level were pushing for a specific middle school licensure, she added. This licensure has not become a reality. With the new K-8 licensure, a new class was needed, middle level field experience or teachers in training. Students are required to take this course before starting their student teaching their senior year.
The students started in Paynesville on Wednesday, Nov. 1, and will stay until Friday, Dec. 15. Once a week their instructor comes to Paynesville and observes them in the classroom setting.
SCSU students in the classroom are Chara Anderson, Emily Connell, Ed Cremers, Samantha Dahl, Erika Eckberg, Heidi Hemmesch, Kris McIntosh, Amelia Rose, Kari Smith, and Heather Carruthers.
Teachers with college students in their classes are: Dawn Knoll, Don Skrypek, Murry Rafferty, Bob Bowden, Laura Viaene, Randy Ziemer, Gary Haglund, Tim Woehler, and Kim Gulbranson.
The students are assigned to shadow a specific teacher. The students are required to provide input into the lesson plans and to teach one lesson sometime during their stay in Paynesville. Many of the students are helping teach classes, helping prepare quizzes, grading student papers, and helping students one-on-one. They are in Paynesville four days a week, spending about two hours in the classroom.
"The teacher in training experience has given me a chance to get into the classroom earlier than student teaching. "I know what I'm getting myself into before doing student teaching," Amelia Rose, who taught in Gary Haglun's class, said.
"I'm glad to get the full range of experience working with middle school as well as elementary students," Rose added.
"I'm learning a lot about the kids," said Heidi Hemmesch, a Paynesville graduate now attending SCSU. Hemmesch, pictured at the far right, is the daughter of Keith and Sandy Hemmesch.
Unlike many of her classmates who are planning to be elementary teachers, Hemmesch wants to teach in the middle school.
She appreciates learning from her advisor, Laura Viaene. "I have a lot of ideas which Laura is letting me try in class," Hemmesch said. Laura tells her what will or won't work in the classroom setting with 25 students.
She finds working in the classroom very helpful and realistic compared to what they learn in college class.
"I'm getting a real teachers perspective of what works in the classroom and not just a professor's viewpoint," Hemmesch said.
For Hemmesch, returning to class has been strange. She baby-sat for many of the students and has had many of the middle school teachers when she was a student.
Hemmesch wishes she could have more time in the classroom as the teacher in training experience is too short. "Just as I get to know the kids and their names, I will be gone," she said.
Hemmesch feels the middle school age is an important age to teach. "Hopefully, you can catch them before they make up their mind about liking or disliking school," she said. "I realize the middle school years are difficult and I want to make a positive impact on their learning experience."
Besides Paynesville, other schools with college students are Dassel-Cokato, Big Lake, Sauk Rapids, Minneapolis, and Monticello.
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