Rachel Yu, who is studying to become at teacher, knows that certain activities come with the job, including speaking in front of the class, reviewing assignments, and giving tests.
The National Taipei University student learned a few lessons of her own while visiting Georgian Court University and completing a student teaching assignment earlier this year at St. Veronica’s Elementary School in nearby Howell. She was among eight student-teachers whose trip was sponsored by the Taiwan Ministry of Education’s overseas internship program.
“There were many more classroom activities,” said Rachel, recalling how her students made Mother’s Day gifts and built towers with paper clips. “In Taiwan, teachers do lots of lectures. In the U.S., children have more chances to experience by doing. That’s something I will take back to my teaching.”
Rachel and her colleagues completed their field experience requirements by student-teaching during the day at St. Veronica’s, visiting GCU education courses at night, and meeting weekly with Kathleen Froriep, Ph.D., an associate professor in the GCU School of Education, and Jennifer Summerhayes, director of the GCU Office of Global Education.
They also interacted with Georgian Court students in courses like Instruction for Literacy and Theory/Practices of Teaching Second Language Learners.
“It was great in terms of meeting fellow students and learning what they go through in other countries,” said Nicole Blazejewiski, a GCU student from Freehold Township. “To have them come in and teach us about their culture was quite an experience.”
Another aspect of the program that stood out was the difference in the student-teacher relationship. “The relationship between the teacher and student is very close (in America),” student-teacher Emma Chu commented. “It is not the same at home. Here it’s very different, but good.”
Similarly, student-teacher Howard Cheng gave his personal e-mail address to students before he left, and found that he received a message from one of his students that same day.
“As a person we want them to remember us more as friends—there’s more distance between teachers and students ,” Rachel added. “As a teacher we want them to recall enjoying the class.”
Rachel, who shared cultural lessons, including how to speak Mandarin, saw the impact of her work before she headed back to Taiwan. “One girl said she was practicing Mandarin at home,” she said. “It’s cool, especially when they are interested and want to learn on their own.”
In addition to fulfilling their requirements, students visited Chicago, Washington D.C., New York City, Philadelphia, Boston, and Pennsylvania State University. “New York City is amazing!” commented student-teacher Stephanie Hung.
Previous student-teaching groups from the overseas internship program were based at schools in Florida, Michigan, and Hawaii; however, this was the first group to work in New Jersey.
“There are people far away who have different lives, and this is why the study of other places is important—in order to know about a completely different culture,” Howard concluded.
Update: As promised, the guest teachers stayed in touch with their American students—via Twitter!
Contributed by Megan Kelly ’15, who completed her GCU degree in English and is headed to the University of Ireland in Galway for graduate school.