Christian Faltis: Creating Opportunities for Students

Educator preparation here is is we look at it as an arc of experience that our students have really starting as low as middle school and high school with our TAFE students. A Texas Association of Future Educators. Those students who learn about the profession of teaching early on in high school and then do a lot of kinds of rehearsals and enactments of teaching while they’re in high school. And so they come to us relatively prepared. Those are some of our students and other students who choose teaching. So when they come into the College of Education, they are introduced to what it means to be a teacher. What teaching is all about just in general. What sorts of assessments are required to become a certified teacher in Texas? And then they come into our program and they get a series of courses and support systems to help them do their courses and of course, be successful on the on the exams that they need. There are four exams in Texas. There’s the the EC six exam, which is a content area exam so that elementary teachers can show pedagogical and content knowledge in science, math, social studies and language arts. Then there’s another exam about the science of teaching reading that is teaching reading to young learners, usually k through second grade. So they have are able to decode and read with meaning and those kinds of things and hear here at Tammy, you are expert in science of teaching really also brings in knowledge of Spanish cognates, different ways of understanding language. The the bilingualism that children can bring into reading to help them make sense of reading as they as they go through the grades in English. And then we have a set of courses about, you know, just the general life of a classroom, classroom management, those kinds of things setting up classrooms, making sure that children have equitable opportunities to participate and engage and then benefit from teaching. We have field experiences that we we start out with video tape and we work a lot on certain kinds of high leverage practices that come from the University of Michigan, and we adjust those to our local contexts. I push an idea called play space and place conscious pedagogies so that our teacher ED Faculty, make sure that the kinds of things that we do in our classrooms are, to the extent possible, culturally relevant and culturally sustaining language relevant and language sustaining. So we do those kinds of things. We have assessment. We teach them how different ways to do informal assessment, portfolio assessment, checking in on students, particularly. We’re interested in eliciting and interpreting student teaching a thinking sorry and language gene. We also work on different ways of providing feedback to students and then also connecting with families and communities. So those are the three areas that we really focus in through their their coursework prior to their clinical teaching here. The field experiences once they get into the field and they’re beginning to work with young children, we have them enact certain kinds of pedagogical ways of teaching content, making sure that we’re interpreting the student’s thinking and the way that they’re using language. Because here in Laredo, about in most of the schools that we serve there, anywhere between 50 and 60% of the students who are who are labeled as English learners here, we prefer the term emergent bilingual to to honor their bilingualism. And we prepare our our teachers for these emergent bilingual children. Our largest degree in teacher education is bilingual education. That is, the schools here want to have teachers that are certified bilingual, which is interesting because they don’t they don’t have bilingual programs. In their schools, but they want teachers who are bilingual and bi literate to be able to interact with the community, interact with particularly newcomers and students who are new to to English as a as a a bilingual language, and they’re better prepared to serve the students. So we we do those kinds of things and then in our clinical experiences, we place them in schools that we know very well with teachers that we know well. We have a very strong connection to one school district here at the Laredo Independent School District and we work with those teachers and they’re what they call deans of education to ensure that what we’re doing here at Tami, You and our teacher ED Programs is known by the teacher’s mentor, teachers and people who do supervision of student teaching in the schools, and that we also know what kinds of things they’re doing in the schools. So we have that really good community connection, and those are the kinds of things that we try to do to ensure that our students have success. Now, as I mentioned, there are four state exams that they need to pass and then a fifth one, which would be a language assessment for a Spanish. And those are they’re all difficult exams and we have student success offers office here where our student worker pardon me, that the workers who work with students prepare them for the exams. There’s all kinds of support systems. So we have instituted a kind of a way of following the students as they move through our programs to see where they are, what they’re having difficulty with on the exams, to provide them support for those areas and to get their scores up to a passing score on each of those exams so that they can move through. And that’s really our goal here. We want to prepare the best teachers that we can to be culturally relevant, culturally sustaining language, relevant language, sustaining bilingual, knowing the communities, knowing the families working in schools that they come from. So they know the areas and communities well. And we want to do that in ways that also make them successful on the state exams that they have to pass. So that’s our that’s constantly a thing that we’re we’re working towards because we want them to be successful as teachers as well, developed in in and high leverage practices in pedagogy that enables the students to have access to the materials, participate really well in classrooms and then benefit from the kinds of activities that they have in school. And that way, we can get them on to our teachers to become hopefully to become, you know, kinds of teachers that are have recognition for their students doing well in school and those kinds of things.

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