11:28 AM

Urban Ed Students Use Classroom Experience to Present at State Conference

Undergraduate urban education students Kayla Smith and Joanna Parker recently used their experiences from a UHD class to present a poster at the Consortium of State Organizations for Texas Teacher Education (CSOTTE) Fall 2013 Teacher Education Conference.

Smith and Parker's presentation, entitled Empowering Teacher Candidates' Literacy Instructional Practices Through Field-based Learning, shared information about their experiences in a professional development series literacy methods course at UHD. In this course, the students work with literacy specialists, students and literacy materials at Chambers Elementary in Alief ISD.

According to the students' professor, Kim Pinkerton, the most impactful experience is that teacher candidates spend approximately two hours of each class engaged in interactions with course materials and 45 minutes working one-to-one with a struggling EC-2 reader. Pinkerton is there to observe and guide teacher candidates during this process, and they follow each meeting with a debriefing session in which they analyze and score literacy assessment results, discuss difficulties and make plans for moving forward with individualized literacy lessons for the young children.

Pinkerton says, "I can more effectively design the course to enhance the learning opportunities of the teacher candidates by engaging them in authentic learning experiences within the elementary school setting. I am there to observe, guide and support the teacher candidates. The project provides meaningful, active learning in which the teacher candidates have their first, empowered teaching experience."

Smith and Parker had initially presented the information about this impactful learning experience to UHD faculty, staff, administrators, and students during the High Impact Practices Showcase held at UHD in April. Pinkerton then encouraged the students to participate in a state-level presentation. Smith and Parker engaged in the presentation proposal process and were ultimately accepted for the CSOTTE conference.

"The CSOTTE Conference was a wonderful experience. I truly feel more empowered as a teacher candidate to be able to participate in this conference and talk to other educational professors," said Smith.

Smith and Parker, the only student representatives from a non-private institution, were able to talk with many in the teacher preparation field and they expertly answered questions related to their experience. After the experience, both students showed interest in expanding their presentation opportunities and also inquired about the grant application process.

"Because of the nature of the field-based learning experiences, I have been able to watch students make great strides in their understanding of effective literacy instruction. I want them to be able to share the value of such opportunities with others in our profession, in hope that more teacher education programs will consider these alternative course delivery methods," said Pinkerton.

Pinkerton also worked with students from a previous semester to share information about impactful field-based learning experiences through a journal article, which was ultimately accepted for publication in the peer- reviewed journal of the Texas Association of Teacher Educators. Undergraduate students Nicole Indelicato, Whitney Postan, Gabriel Silveira, and Ashley DeJonge, along with graduate student Charlotte Ellis, published their article entitled "What to Expect When You are Expecting to Teach: Reflections about Field-based Programs and the Effects on Teacher Candidates" in October 2012.

"It is very important that we give our undergraduate students a voice by guiding them through the publication and presentation processes. I am proud of our students," concludes Pinkerton.