Education program to be rebuilt

The faculty of education will be rebuilding their program this coming fall. (Graphic by: Lena Yang)
The faculty of education will be rebuilding their program this coming fall. (Graphic by: Lena Yang)

Wilfrid Laurier University’s faculty of education is currently rebuilding their entire program for training student teachers to incorporate and expand on changes mandated by the ministry of education. The new program will be implemented starting in the fall of 2015.

“Despite the compulsory nature of it, we saw it as an opportunity to build on what was already a successful program,” said Julie Mueller, acting associate dean for the faculty of education.

The mandate set out by the provincial government called for all teaching colleges across Ontario to extend the teacher preparation period from two terms to four, in this way increasing the amount of field experience student teachers receive.

“The ministry set out the minimum requirements, and within that we can create the program however we want. It gives us an opportunity to differentiate ourselves from other programs,” said Dawn Buzza, acting dean of the faculty of education.

The impact of the mandate on students means they will be in school twice as long as they were before. Buzza said consideration was taken to accommodate the schedules of placement schools.

“Theoretically we could have gone four straight semesters, running through summers, and make it shorter. But because we are so involved with the schools and students spend so much time in the school when taking their courses, we wanted that integration of conceptual and theoretical knowledge with practice.”

Part of what is being added to the new program is an expansion of the fieldwork opportunity available to students. Two of the new programs, the Laurier professional program and alternative program, in which students can a do three-week placement internationally, will allow students to take more control of how they want to develop their skills as a teacher.

“They can seek out opportunities themselves as long as they meet our criteria,” said Mueller.

Another major change is that the new program will offer credit to students for their practicum component, while in the past credit was not awarded.

“It reduces the course time they need in that time bracket. It allows for students to build on their learning, to make those theory-to-learning connections more fully,” said Mueller.

Currently, the faculty has the approval of senate to make the major modifications and lay out the overall structure for the restructuring of the program and course sequence. They also have a detailed guideline from the Ontario College of Teachers for what exactly has to go into their program.

Buzza said there is still a lot of work ahead.

“We are just starting to plan out the actual development of these new programs and revision of courses to make everything fit together. We have a ton of work to do still.”

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