Future Educators Reinforce Professional Skills While They Feel Part of an Interconnected World
Since 2015 American School of Valencia has a teacher training program that offers future educators the experience required to become certified teachers in the United States. ASV partners with three American universities with a prestigious school of education where students are encouraged to enjoy an international experience before they graduate. “The partnership is beneficial for all involved: the student-teachers receive a high level of support, our teachers get the benefit of collaboration with students who have the most recent training, and children receive additional attention and support,” sums up Dr. Ann C. Kox, Preschool and Elementary School Principal at ASV.
The program takes place every year in two time periods: October-December and January-March. Student-teachers are assigned to a specific class at ASV, depending on the specialty chosen in the degree, and collaborate closely with one faculty member in the courses he or she teaches. The program is currently involving the University of Kentucky, the University of North Georgia, and the University of Northern Colorado. The stay may vary between 8 or 16 weeks, depending on the university, and multiple feelings come and go until a question appears: “What has this experience offered to me?”
An Experience Abroad
The ASV Student-Teachers Program has similar advantages to other experiences abroad: participants get immersed into a different culture and learn to navigate in an unfamiliar environment. Most important is the professional skills reinforced: they learn resources and strategies needed to have a successful life in an interconnected world and get prepared for a growing reality in America. “At the University of Kentucky we are preparing teachers to teach anywhere in the world, but if we just look at Lexington, the increase in our English language learners in the last decade has been over 300%, and our teachers must be prepared to welcome those students and help them see the gifts that they bring to the classroom and the value of being part of an interconnected world,” Dr. Sharon Brennan, coordinator of this training program at the University of Kentucky, says.
Student-teachers agree on this view of diversity and interculturality. According to Kaylie Zander (University of Kentucky) “this program gives us different strategies to reach the needs of our diverse learners, you don’t get to experience this when you only have one or two English Learners students in the States”. The ASV community, with 43 different nationalities and 27% of students not born in Spain, is an interesting context to grow as globally-minded educators.
Learning from a Highly-Prepared Faculty
Undergraduate students have the same professional development offered to the ASV faculty members. This includes weekly grade level and division cooperation, bimonthly faculty meetings, and specific training on campus. But for sure the daily experience with the ASV partner is the most diverse and enriching part of this time: “Seeing these teachers work and how they handle themselves in scenarios and situations is impressive,” Rafael Botello (University of Northern Colorado) comments. “It is a great learning experience for all of us,” Emma Schulman (University of Kentucky) points out; “I really enjoyed the collaborative effort of the entire school.”
Twelve weeks may seem a long time but once they are in Valencia all of them feel that the training goes really fast! “We had to apply way in advance and get all the paperwork done in order to build up these 8 weeks that just went by in a blink of an eye,” Kaylie Zander expresses. “The time is perfect for what our purpose: it is adequate to meet my students and build relationships,” Sophie Roblic (University of Kentucky), remarks.
An Opportunity to Define their Future
Participants may not have what is teaching in international American schools overseas. The student-teacher program is, for sure, an opportunity to see it: “In my case, I wanted to see what it was like to teach in another country. It was sort of dipping my toes into the water,” Sophie Roblic says in a visual way. “Working here at ASV has opened so many doors for me. I am applying now to other international schools”, Rafael Botello announces. However, teaching abroad is not a goal for everyone: “Learning from EL students has strengthened my teaching ability. I’m excited to go back to the States and implement what I learned”, Allison Steel states.
Why training teachers under a global perspective? Student teaching abroad provides first-hand experience grappling with global perspectives in and out of the classroom.Dr. Sharon Brennan points out a recent OECD report that describes three questions teachers should address today: “What do I know about myself culturally, what do I know about others in terms of your cultural gifts, and how can we work together on projects that have an importance at a local level but also are shared by people around the globe.” That is why ASV invites them to join a vibrant school community and discover a beautiful city in the Mediterranean while you get ready for “a successful life in our interconnected world.”