Excellent teaching requires hours of intensive clinical practice in real classrooms, with real students, informed by the best research. This clinical model is the heart of our program.– Kevin Gary, Ph.D., Department Chair
Beginning in their first course, future teachers learn by spending time in the schools. This work is supervised by expert teachers who give thoughtful feedback and mentorship. Most importantly, the fieldwork is structured intentionally throughout the curriculum.
As Valpo students advance through the program, they spend more hours in field settings, and work in capacities of increasing responsibility and autonomy. For example, in the undergraduate teacher education program:
- First Year – 20 hours of observation is integrated into the first year coursework
- Second Year – 40 hours
- Third Year – 40 hours
- Fourth Year – 100 hours
- TOTAL – 200 hours
Current research has identified 19 “high-leverage” teaching practices — fundamental skills that positively impact student learning. Throughout Valpo’s education program, future teachers practice these skills in real classrooms. By the time they graduate, they have had experience with all of them, from setting up small group work to leading a whole-class discussion.
From Valpo’s Northwest Indiana campus, education students can visit incredibly diverse school settings – affluent and under-resourced; rural, urban, and suburban.
Each Valpo student receives field experience in 4–5 schools, and the department faculty are intentional about placing students in varied field settings.
In the Field
In connection with the practice component of all programs in education, students experience the following:
1) Development and on-going application of the high leverage teaching practices that constitute excellent teaching.
2) Mentoring feedback from both the cooperating teacher and a university supervisor.
These are the two key components whereby we prepare world-class teachers.