Students prepare for unique international student teaching experience

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Sixteen students will travel in November to six different foreign countries as part of a unique College of Education student teaching abroad experience.

The students will spend five weeks teaching in Australia, England, India, Ireland, Italy and New Zealand.

Students who choose the short-term student teaching abroad option spend 10-12 weeks of their semester student teaching domestically. Then they spend five weeks student teaching in schools abroad.

The reasons for choosing the option are as varied as the students. For Kaitlin Best, a childhood and early adolescent education (CEAED) major, the decision amounted to following in her mother’s footsteps.

“I have wanted to go abroad to student teach practically as long as I’ve wanted to be a teacher,” Best said. “I knew I wanted to be a teacher in preschool when, after teaching kindergarten all day, my mom would pick me up. I would practice 'playing teacher' after school.”

Best’s mother student taught in England, and in her junior year of high school, her family spent 10 days there tracing its ancestry. So, her decision seemed natural.

“My mom had completed student teaching in Cornwall, England, so choosing to complete my short-term student teaching abroad in Cornwall was a no-brainer,” she said. “I had to go back!”

Holly Walker, a CEAED major and French minor, has chosen two unique student teaching offerings from the College of Education. Before she travels to India for her student teaching abroad, she will complete time in the urban teaching option.

“This semester I am student teaching in the urban teaching option at Sheppard Elementary School in Philadelphia. I have learned a lot about the way education differs across different social and economic standings, and how the home lives of students affect their performances,” Walker said.

“It will be interesting to see if the students at my school in India are affected by some of the social or economic problems in their country.”

Much like Best, a familial motivation influenced Walker’s decision, only in a different way.

“I was born and grew up in the UK and France so I have had some experience learning in different school systems. I wanted to travel somewhere other than Europe or the typical English-speaking countries because I wanted to have a novel cultural experience,” she said.

“I am excited to see how the school system in India compares to American schools and other schools around the world. I was influenced to choose India because my parents lived in India for three months when they were younger, and also as a way to learn more about an important part of British history.”

For both Best and Walker, their college choices leaned toward Penn State because of the unique learning options offered by the College of Education.

“Part of the reason I chose Penn State was because it has so many resources that you can use and unique opportunities to choose from,” Walker said.

“It was a major factor in my college search. When I was in high school, I only looked at colleges that had the student teaching abroad program,” Best said.

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Last Updated November 18, 2013