University debuts re-branded teacher residency program


File Photo/The Lion’s Roar

David Faucheux, instructor of management and business administration, talks to students about expanding professional skills at a seminar earlier this year. Southeastern Education majors will have the opportunity to gain practical experience similar to this in the classroom through residency programs.

Education majors will now have the opportunity to gain more practical experience in the classroom.

The Louisiana Department of Education recently introduced new requirements for the student-teaching program for all education majors, now rebranded to the piloted teacher-residency program.

Similar to the original program, education students intern at a school in one of the seven parishes that participate and are mentored by the teacher. The rebranded program has made several changes to the original in order to better prepare education students for a career as a teacher.

Dr. Paula Calderon, the dean of the College of Education, explained what is different about the program.

“A few years ago, the Louisiana Department of Education wanted to make sure that all the undergraduate teacher preparation programs went from one semester of student teaching to an entire academic year, or two semesters of student teaching.” said Calderon. “They would be very much like a teacher-in-residence, hence the term residency.”

Calderon emphasized that the Louisiana Department of Education made these changes in order to give education students more practical experience in the classroom before they apply for a job.

“Ordinarily, students would finish all of their course work through their next-to-last semester in their curriculum, and then they would student-teach in their final semester,” explained Calderon. “This redesigned program expands student teaching so that course work compliments what students experience in the classroom. We had to redesign some of courses in order to accomplish this goal. For example, the things that students learn in their senior methods course, which is taught during the first semester of residency, are being put into practice through this new program.”

Since the program has extended the time education students will be student teaching, Calderon feels they will be able to better connect with the students in their assigned classroom and obtain a better understanding of what the job of a teacher will entail.

In regards to why the Department of Education felt the need to rebrand the program, Calderon explained that they wanted to give more priority to practical experience and practice rather than content.

“The pendulum swings every once in a while where this is concerned” said Calderon. “Once upon a time, teacher-education programs relied very much on practice. The pendulum swung back in the ‘90s towards a more content-focused curriculum. Less emphasis was placed on practice because the Department of Education felt the need to prioritize content. Recently, the pendulum has swung back towards practice.”

The university started to slowly implement the program four years ago on a volunteer basis, anticipating Department of Education would change the program. Calderon said that the students who volunteered for the program reported feeling more prepared for a future career in teaching.

“The teacher candidates who volunteered to partake in the revamped program came back and gave positive remarks” said Calderon. “They felt more comfortable with the classroom environment and felt more prepared to go into the classroom. Now, when they interview for jobs, they can say they have two semesters of practice in the classroom rather than just one.”

Allison Hausknecht, a junior special education major, feels the rebranded teacher residency program will help her become more prepared for a future career in teaching.

“This change will give Education students an opportunity to see the students progress the whole year and not just for one semester,” explained Hausknecht. “We really get to see what the full progression of the children will be. I, personally, have not started student teaching yet. However, I am really excited for the opportunity to see children progress for two semesters.”