SMWC education majors explore urban schools in Indy

November 25th, 2015 | SMWC

education field trip

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) education majors gained valuable insight into the world of education in urban schools through a two-day field trip. As part of the Field Experience I: Urban Education course at SMWC, future teachers had the opportunity to explore four schools in Indianapolis: St. Mary’s Child Center, Carl Wilde School 79, Beth-EL-Zedeck Early Childhood Center and Theodore Potter School 74.

“Many of our pre-service teachers did not grow up in a diverse environment,” states Anneliese Payne, Ph.D., SMWC associate professor of education. “So it is an interesting and eye-opening opportunity to be able to not only interact with the teachers, but also be able to talk with the children.”

The goal of the urban field experience is to introduce pre-service teachers to a variety of schools which include a diverse student population. 

“I am thankful for the people who dedicate their lives to educating, but especially those who jump into an urban setting where it can be more challenging than somewhere with more wealthy families or better resources – because that's not the only place where great teachers are needed,” states Casey Dust, sophomore mild-intervention education major. “We have to go where the need is, and I am much more confident in doing that now.”

The students visit pre-school settings as well as elementary schools in order to accommodate both the Pre-K-3 grade and K-6 grade majors. 

At one of the elementary schools, the principal shared not only facts about his school, but also gave SMWC students helpful information about the hiring process and what traits he looks for in a first-year teacher. SMWC students also had opportunities to interact one-on-one with teachers at the schools.

“My most defining moment was having the opportunity to talk to Mr. Colby at Carl Wilde,” states Sarah Burnham, senior elementary education major. “He had such encouraging words. Mr. Colby explained that in his classroom everyone learns from one another; he learns from his students everyday.”

Dust had a similar experience at Carl Wilde. “The atmosphere was wonderful and one teacher in particular, Mr. York, stuck out so vividly in my mind. He was so invested in his students and their lives, and it was very obvious. Just seeing the passion in his eyes for his job made me that much more excited to finally be in my own classroom and make those connections with my students.”

Students were able to reflect and share these experiences with each other in the evening.

“We spend some time at the end of our first day of observations to reflect on what the pre-service teachers expected to see compared to what they actually experienced in the schools,” states Payne. “This has always been one of my favorite parts of the experience.  The experience may prompt some of them to student teach or ultimately find a teaching job serving a more diverse population.”

Woods Online education majors also had the opportunity to participate.

“As an online student, I appreciated being able to participate in the field experience with other education majors,” states Sarah Hutchinson, of Westfield, Ind., junior preschool-3rd grade, mild intervention education major. “We explored and observed on our own or in small groups during our visits to the schools and gathered together in the evening for a full group discussion. We shared our experiences and listen to those of our peers. We discussed our views, opening ourselves to new ideas and growth.”

For future educators, experiences like these are irreplaceable.

“I left more confident about becoming an educator and knowing things that I need to work on,” states Burnham. “This experience also helped me get an idea for where I'd like to job search for in the future!”