Category Archives: Elementary Ed

TESL minor student, Iftu Adem, share her inspiration for teaching English language learners

Sophomore Iftu Adem is majoring in Elementary Education Foundations with a minor in Teaching English as a Second Languages (TESL). She explains how her experience as an English-language learner inspired her to become a teacher.

What drove you to enroll in the TESOL minor program?

When I came to America I saw teachers who were very passionate about their jobs, especially teaching English to students who were learning English for the first time. They had a dedication and enthusiasm that attracted me to that profession and ever since I’ve wanted to be like them and be able to inspire someone in return.

What do you hope to do after graduation?

I hope to be able to go to my home country, Kenya, and teach the next generation and pass on the legacy of my former teachers and show them the advantages that learning a language opens up for them.

What has been your experience with the faculty?

My experience so far has been amazing. The professors that I have had the pleasure of meeting this semester have been amazing; They’re understanding and very passionate about what they do and that kind of energy reinforces in me the whole reason i decided to do this minor.

What’s been your favorite course so far?

Basics in Teaching English As a Second Language because of the community service aspect. That helped me implement what I learned in a real-world setting. That was very helpful in envisioning how I could carry out a lesson and plan lessons based on what I’m learning.

Learn more about the TESL minor and other second language education degree programs.

Annie Mason writes op-ed challenging critics of racial justice education in Star Tribune

Annie Mason, Program Director of Elementary Teacher Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, published an op-ed in the Star Tribune as a counterpoint to Katherine Kersten’s article, “Racial identity policies are ruining Edina’s fabled schools,” on the Edina school district’s new “All for All” plan, which Kersten blames for lowered test results in Edina schools.

Kersten alleges the new plan shifts the  district leaders’ educational philosophy from “academic excellence for all” to ensuring “that students think correctly on social and political issues.” She argues that the new racial justice-geared agenda creates a hostile environment for students with “nonconforming views,” and does nothing to improve test scores or foster high academic performance in the district.

Mason challenged these ideas in her op-ed, ” Counterpoint: Edina schools: why it’s crucial to unlearn racism.” She discusses the way white privilege has shaped our country’s education system since its conception, the learning limitations placed on students of all races, and the importance of maintaining a dialogue about race in our schools. “[Students] know that to change the future, we have to reckon with the past,” Mason writes. “To unlearn racism, we have to be willing to face what it is, what it has created and how we are all implicated in it.”

Learn more about The Department of Curriculum and Instruction’s teacher education programs  and our commitment to equity in education.

 

Elementary education majors work hands-on with students in Montpellier, France

Students interested in teaching have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take part in a teaching practicum in Montpellier, France through the  Learning Abroad Center. Participants can meet their major requirements for  the Elementary Education Foundations  program while learning and teaching in the vibrant city of Montepellier, which is known for its beautiful architecture and atmosphere of political tolerance.

Engaging in a teaching practicum in France presents a wonderful opportunity for elementary education majors to flex their teaching muscles in a classroom with students of different cultural backgrounds. During this one-semester study abroad program, participants plan lessons alongside local teachers in Montpellier that explore effective ways of teaching English to students who do not speak the language.

Cynthia Zwicky, a lecturer in the   Elementary Education program in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, recently returned from Montpellier, where she observed students working in their classrooms. “They teach in classrooms that are representative of a large immigrant population in Montpellier and learn many skills that are transferable and applicable to multicultural elementary classrooms in the United States,” she explains.

This program offers not only the opportunity to interact with students of many cultures and backgrounds, but for university students to learn for themselves what it’s like to be a new language learner.

“There is no substitute for living an experience that many of these aspiring teachers’ future students will be experiencing here in the United States,” Zwicky says. That cross-cultural understanding students can be carried with them back into their teaching practice in their classrooms.

Find out more about the  Teaching Practicum in France at the Learning Abroad Center.

Learn more about the B.S. in Elementary Education Foundations program in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

McNair scholar and Al Franken’s education intern: Aarinola Esther Okelola

esther okelola

Senior Aarinola Esther Okelola talks about her drive to change the educational system, her research on school discipline practices, and her internship with Senator Al Franken.

What is your current degree program?

Elementary Education  Foundations, and I am minoring in English as a Second Language (ESL). I expect to graduate in May 2018.

What drove you to enroll in the program?

I’ve always been interested in a teaching role, and in education as a whole.  In my First Year Inquiry class titled “Making a Difference in the Lives of Young People,” we read The New Jim Crow and Start Where You Are, But Don’t Stay There.  I learned from this class and the books we read about the school-to-prison pipeline and the opportunity gap that leads to the achievement gap. I felt very strongly in myself that I have to do something about these racial disparities, specifically those in education that start at an early age. That led me to become an elementary education major.

Tell me about your research as a McNair Scholar.

I am conducting research in the area of education justice with Professor Catherine Squires. This last year, we collected literature on both  punitive and restorative justice discipline practices in Minnesota schools.  Moving forward, we’re working on collecting discipline data from schools, meaning find out the different discipline practices used to create a map that displays school discipline practices in Minnesota.

You also are interning in Senator Al Franken’s office. What are your duties there?

I currently do administrative tasks as well as sorting through constituent policy requests. I am partnered with the education expert at the office and will be working with him on education-related projects. I will be present the results of our projects at the end of my internship. We will get a chance to meet the Senator later on in the internship, too.

What do you hope to get out of your educational experience?

I hope to grow in my understanding of our education system, to make connections with my colleagues and professors, to find mentors, and eventually to take a leadership role in making the policies surrounding education.

What has been your experience with the faculty?

My experience has been positive so far in regards to CEHD faculty. All have been receptive, knowledgeable, friendly, and willing to share helpful information.

Did your coursework help prepare you to move forward in your career of choice?

The coursework has given me a good scope of material that I will need to know as a future teacher. Because there is always room for improvement, adding more lesson planning and multicultural discussions to the Elementary Education undergraduate coursework I feel will better prepare us as educators in our current world.

Any other thoughts you want to share about your experience?

I feel I’m exactly where I need to be and CEHD has been a warm environment for me to learn in.

Learn more about the elementary education foundations program in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

 

CEHD alumni honored with Outstanding Achievement Award

David Metzen, Eric Kaler, and John Haugo

 

CEHD alumni John Haugo and David Metzen received the University of Minnesota’s Outstanding Achievement Award (OAA)  on June 19 at an evening reception at Eastcliff.  They were recognized for their significant contributions to Minnesota’s educational system and given their awards by President Eric Kaler. The OAA is the University of Minnesota’s highest award for graduates.

John Haugo was an innovative tech entrepreneur before it was cool. After working as a teacher for many years, Haugo went on to earn an M.A. (’64) and Ph.D. (’68) from CEHD. He had a specialty in information systems and, after finishing his doctorate, led the implementation of computer networks across Minnesota State University campuses.

He was later appointed to a governor’s task force to study the potential use of computers in education, which led to his position as executive director of the Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium, or MECC. Early on, Haugo realized the educational potential of personal desktop computers and the importance of teaching students how to use them. Because of his efforts at MECC, all public schools in Minnesota had Apple computers with instructional software, and teachers were trained how to incorporate them into their lesson plans. Haugo eventually moved on to launch his entrepreneurial career and founded several software companies focused on health care delivery and resource management. One of his colleagues said, “John could have used his entrepreneurial skills in any type of business, but he wanted to improve the world.”

David Metzen went from being a U of M hockey standout to having an exemplary career in the field of public education. Metzen has a B.S. (’64), M.A. (’70) and Ed.D. (’73) from CEHD. He started his career as a teacher in his hometown of South Saint Paul, soon advancing to the position of principal and later superintendent. A parent from that time shared, “On the first day of school, Dave took our daughter by the hand and walked her to her classroom, all the while telling her how great school was going to be. She not only believed him then, she is now a 9th grade English teacher in the Minneapolis public schools.” As a lifelong resident and passionate supporter of his community, Metzen realized the importance of strong public schools as a civic point of pride. To ensure the ongoing health of the district, he established one of the first school foundations in Minnesota, the South Saint Paul Educational Foundation.

The University of Minnesota was influenced by Metzen’s thoughtful leadership as a Board of Regents member for 12 years, including two years as chair. He wanted to ensure that college education remained affordable for all students. During his time as a regent, the board oversaw the reorganization of General College and the College of Human Ecology, bringing together several programs under the umbrella of the new College of Education and Human Development. After his regents term ended, Metzen continued his leadership for college affordability as Minnesota’s Commissioner of Higher Education.

In their acceptance remarks, both Haugo and Metzen acknowledged the importance of the University of Minnesota to their lives and to the state. We are proud to have such distinguished alumni affiliated with CEHD!

All college alumni are invited to stay connected through the CEHD Alumni Society.

C&I student, Fadumo Mohamed, wins CEHD Multicultural Recognition Award

Lori Helman, Fadumo Mohamed and her parents, Anthony Albecker, Vichet Chhuon

Fadumo Mohamed, a senior in the Elementary Education Foundations program in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction received the CEHD Student Multicultural Recognition Award this year. The award is given to a candidate who has made outstanding multicultural efforts to the CEHD community in community outreach as part of their extracurricular or professional work.

Mohamed was nominated by her McNair Scholars program advisor, Lori Helman, on the strength of her many outreach activities. She worked as a literacy mentor in Pratt Community School as part of the America Reads program where she became interested in creating an effective mentoring program for Somali-American youth in the Cedar Riverside neighborhood.

The existing government programs designed to support positive extracurricular activities were transforming into programs to monitor youth for potential future terrorist threats. This was creating a divisive and mistrustful atmosphere in the community, so Mohamed urged the community school to not take the government funding for these programs that offered tutoring and instead to let her provide tutors with the support of the Young Muslims Collaborative (YMC).

In support of that effort she trained almost 40 mentors over two years that were paired with unmotivated or disconnected students. By training mentors who have had similar life experiences, the students are given emotional and strategic support for setting life goals. This is in contrast to programs that attempt to see these youth as potential deviants.

“Fadumo shares the importance of knowing who you are- the values of dual identity, dual language, and works to develop a curriculum that highlights this,” says Helman. “It has been my great honor to work alongside her and learn from her as she gives her full effort toward ensuring equity and positive identity formation for Somali Americans.”

Mohamed will enter the Master of Education and Initial Teaching License program in Elementary Education in the fall where she plans to continue her work towards engaging youth and creating a curriculum that responds to the needs of multicultural student communities.

Learn more about the elementary education programs in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

 

C&I Graduate Triples Elementary Test Scores in One Year, Closes Achievement Gap

Bonnie Laabs
Courtesy of City Pages

Reporter Susan Du of City Pages recently reported that after just one year as the science teacher in struggling Hamline Elementary school, Bonnie Laabs raised the science proficiency rate from 17 percent to 61 percent, meeting the statewide average. According to Jodie Wilson, Hamline’s testing coordinator, this tremendous jump is “extremely unheard of” in St. Paul Schools.

Laabs uses a combination of extra-academic advice and mentoring, along with creative explanations of difficult science terminology with the help of classroom pets to help students overcome hurdles in scientific understanding.

She is also open about her own past in which she struggled with abuse at an early age, spent time in foster care, and got thrown out of school. She uses her redemption through education as an example to her students, allowing them to open up about their own fears and problems. Laabs also tells her story to underscore the importance of completing homework and getting a good education.

Bonnie Laabs graduated with a Ph.D. from the Department of Curriculum & Instruction with a focus on family, youth, and community. To read the entire article visit the CityPages website.

C&I Faculty Cynthia Zwicky Fosters Restorative Practices in Schools

Cynthia Zwicky, a lecturer in the elementary education program in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction, is presenting an Advanced Circle Keeper’s Training  as part of the annual Restorative Practices in Schools trainings. The trainings are a collaboration between the Legal Rights Center and the Minnesota Department of Education School Safety Technical Assistance Center.

A restorative school is centered on relationships, building community and repairing harm. Multiple practices provide multi-tiered levels of support for students, staff and family. The Advanced Circle Keeper training is designed for people who already practice restorative justice, typically in a school setting. ”I have found the practice to be a key component of interrupting the school to prison pipeline and in reducing racial disproportionality in suspension,” says Zwicky.

Zwicky and her co-presenter, Michael Stanefski, were two of the first people in Minnesota (and in the United States) to adopt the circle process in their work as a teacher and a social worker in the schools, respectively.  They developed the Advanced Circle Keeper’s Training as an opportunity for circle keepers to observe each other’s practice in repairing harm.

Read more about restorative justice and the elementary education program in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction.