A look at Elementary & Secondary Education (M.Ed.) with Marcy Singer-Gabella


[intro music]>>MARCY SINGER-GABELLA: I think that several
features stand out in our programs that make us unique. When people first look at us, obviously,
they pay attention to things like high rankings and faculty reputations. Our faculty are at
the cutting edge of research on learning, on teacher development, and are really big
names in those fields. But there are a set of key ideas that animate the programs that
I think set us apart. When we talk about them, there are three. One has to do with subject
matter, and the teacher’s deep understanding of subject matter. A second has to do with
the centrality of student thinking, the power of student’s ideas, and the third one has
to do with an idea of learning to teach within a community of practice of teaching and learning.
Let me step through each of those and try to explain what I mean by them. The first
is our faculty share a commitment that critical to effective teaching is a really deep understanding
of subject matter. So no matter what grade level, the ability to understand one’s content
deeply and to be able to make it accessible to a learner to take it apart, to see it from
a learner’s eye view is absolutely central. The second big idea is really related. The
idea that students’ ideas are the most fundamental resource that we have, and so the task in
teaching is to be able to bridge the understandings and ideas of learners with more advanced or
sophisticated ideas in that subject matter. That could be shifting in elementary math
from needing to be able to work with manipulatives, and to be able to count pieces out in front
of you in order to do an addition problem, to be able to hold a quantity in my head so
I know that I’ve got 10 blocks over here and now I need to add three more – 11, 12,
13. I think the third thing that’s really significant in our program is that our faculty
are convinced that teachers learn to teach by participating as teachers in a community
of practice of teaching and learning. So what that means is we’re partnering with schools
in which our candidates are becoming members of teaching teams through which they have
opportunities to build relationships with students that are there daily and consistently
and reliably. They are gradually assuming responsibilities for assessment, for tutoring,
for working with small and larger groups. Again, their daily presence makes them not
only reliable, but it also allows teams to organize flexibly to be able to respond to
learner’s needs, to be able to differentiate instruction to work with individuals and small
groups, and plan to serve students again from day-to-day and week-to-week in ways that will
promote their understanding. It really becomes a win-win for the schools and for our teacher
candidates. [music]>>MARCY SINGER-GABELLA: Our program is structured
slightly differently at the elementary versus the secondary levels. Our elementary program
can either be an 18-month program or a 2-year program. Those students who stay for two years
in the elementary program often are pursuing an English Language Learner endorsement so
that they stretch out the time and they’re able to do more, to kind of be more certified,
more qualified in a particular field. Our secondary folks come in for either a year
or for two years, and the folks who are coming in for a year, it’s a really compact, intense
program. For the two years, there’s a little bit more elective room in their course work
and they also have more opportunities to pursue research. What’s common is that there is
a balance of coursework and fieldwork. So coursework, at the beginning, tends to focus
more on foundations, again, taking apart the subject matter, understanding learner development.
Over the course of the program the ratio of coursework to fieldwork shifts. So while there
is fieldwork from the very beginning, there’s less. As the program goes on, the amount of
fieldwork intensifies until finally candidates are out full-time in their internships or
student teaching. [music]>>MARCY SINGER-GABELLA: Our students across
the board bring a strong academic background. They may have had interesting interdisciplinary
majors. They have gone off and done interesting work while they’ve been undergraduates,
but they have typically succeeded well in undergraduate education. They also bring experience
working with young children or teens whether that be in a school setting or a more informal
setting like a Boys and Girls Club after school, or a camp. But essentially, we seek out applicants
who’ve shown that they care about students, that they want to work with students, that
they can work with students, and students who do well in our program genuinely find
children and youth interesting. They see something there that they want to capitalize on. They
want to spend time with these folks because their ideas are interesting and they enjoy
communicating with them and working with them. [music]>>MARCY SINGER-GABELLA: So why would I enter
teaching knowing everything that I know about teaching, and the field and the fact that
the schools at some level are under siege, and the teaching profession seems to be under
siege at times by state policy? One can look at that and become very depressed or one can
look at the field and realize that there is so much change afoot. I think that there are
a number of us who believe that schools 10 years from now will look nothing like schools
look now, or that at least parts of schools and opportunities for teaching and learning.
The experimentation that we are doing around teaching teams as being the unit rather than
a single teacher in a single classroom. We think that schools are moving in this direction
around high personalization. We think it’s going to take skill and commitment. We want
folks who are interested and inspired by that challenge to work creatively to change the
field of education as it changes, as our understandings of learning and teaching shift, as opportunities
for learning and teaching shift as schools reconfigure themselves. So you have to have
a deep commitment, and a deep interest in learners. In equity, we see that good teaching
is a key in providing equity for students, not only for students, but for people in their
lives and for creating a just and equitable society. So if you’re intrigued by that,
if you feel that you can play a role in that, we urge people to participate in teaching.
You will learn all the time, and it is again because the landscape is changing, the kinds
of challenges you face will be changing. But the work is critical, it’s absolutely what
our society needs to be focused on. [music]

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