Teaching and Touring in Ireland
Irish classrooms and countryside provide "once-in-a-lifetime experience" for Longwood students
Student teaching assignments aren't known for their exotic locations. Maybe that's why one group of aspiring teachers from Longwood University have such big smiles on their faces.
In May, they spent three weeks in Limerick, Ireland, completing a teaching practicum that placed them in five elementary schools. After the last bell on Friday, it was the student teachers' turn to learn, with the Irish countryside and its world-famous attractions serving as the classroom.
"It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience," said Leighan Worden, a junior from Chesapeake who had never before traveled outside the United States. "When we had to come back, we didn't want to leave."
Longwood student teachers have had the opportunity to take the Ireland Practicum II course for more than a decade thanks to a special relationship between Longwood and Mary Immaculate College in Limerick. Typically taken after a student's sophomore year, the 3-credit Practicum II (Education 370) course is required of all students in Longwood's teacher-preparation program. The version offered in Ireland is offered each May and is overseen by Dr. Nancy Powers, assistant professor of education and elementary education coordinator.
"It's three weeks of teaching and touring," said Powers, who has accompanied the students the last three years. "They teach all day Monday through Friday, then tour the country on the weekend."
Worden, who taught a fourth-grade class at the Christian Brothers School (CBS) Sexton Street, was one of 10 Longwood students (one is a special education major; the rest are liberal studies majors) who traveled to Ireland for the course in 2012.
"The students in my classroom came from diverse backgrounds," said Worden, a member of the Cormier Honors College. "I had some ESL kids who were from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Egypt, and I had a severe ADHD child who was a challenge but in a good way. It was tough, but it will help me in the future because I know I won’t have a perfect classroom."
Jesslyn Woodson, a senior from Farmville, also taught a fourth-grade class at CBS Sexton Street. "I had students from all over the world: Afghanistan, Iraq, Poland and Scotland. It was a wonderful experience and an eye-opener as to what the world is like," said Woodson, who also traveled outside the U.S. for the first time to take the course.
Emily Miller, a junior from Fredericksburg, taught a sixth-grade class at St. Patrick's Girls National School, and the last two weeks she helped one hour a day with "junior infants"-4- and 5-year-olds. For physical education, she taught a lesson on kickball, which her students had never played. "That's an American game, so they were excited," said Miller, a member of the Cormier Honors College.