Education majors at the College of Coastal Georgia are finding that elementary school education looks dramatically different than it did when they were elementary students.
They can’t learn about these changes only by reading a textbook on their college campus, though. These future teachers learn the most from hands-on experience inside the classrooms of local schools.
And this year, Coastal Georgia has further expanded its partnership with Glynn County Schools by bringing a class out to C.B. Greer Elementary twice a week to work directly with students in classrooms. The college students spend their entire morning at the school working in pairs, and while on Greer’s campus they receive a “mini-lesson” from their instructor Carol Geiken or from guest speakers.
“This is the first time I have ever done it for this class,” Geiken said. “I just saw the need for them.”
The college course is focused on teaching students in special education classes.
“We’ve been studying about all the different disabilities,” Geiken said. “… But actually, when you have that hands-on experience, it’s just so much more valuable.”
The students also have their practicums at other schools in the district throughout the week.
“I like the contrast,” said Coastal Georgia junior Kiara Walker. “… For our normal practicum, we’ve been in (special education) kindergarten, and coming in here, I’m in the fourth grade math class, so it’s a jump from what we’re familiar with.”
Elementary school students today learn more about the process of learning than students did when Walker was in elementary school, she said.
“Being in that math class, you actually learn why they learn the way they do, compared to when we were growing up — it was kind of like ‘you learn this and this is the way you’re going to learn it and that’s it,’” she said. “Now, they’re actually teaching them why they learn the the things that they do.”
Carter Akins, principal at C.B. Greer Elementary, said he’s happy to partner with the college, as doing so provides his students with more opportunities to learn.
And he said he expects it’s a helpful learning opportunity for the college students as well.
“The more you get in the classroom, the more you can understand what it really is like,” Akins said. “ … If you can get that classroom experience and that student experience along and along, then that’s going to prepare you for teaching.”
The teacher candidates are learning more about the day-to-day operations of a classroom, Akins said.
“It’s giving them a better idea of what it’s like to be inside a classroom,” he said.