COE Dawgs in NYC
By Megan Fitzgerald ‘19, Madison Stefanski ‘19, and Sam Silver’19
During the fall semester, three College of Education students had the opportunity to live and student teach in New York City. Over the course of the semester, we have learned about effective and meaningful collaboration and how to make our schools and classrooms welcoming places for all. We have also experienced what it feels like to be personally challenged and pushed out of our comfort zones. Living, working, and thriving in New York City has given us confidence as we prepare to graduate from Butler, seek teaching jobs, and create our own places in the world. As the semester ended, we took some time to reflect on the semester and its impact on us as educators.
Madison: Student teaching in New York City has allowed me to see that classroom walls can stretch as wide as the city itself. This semester, I have learned how important experiences outside of the classroom are to a child’s education. In second grade, curriculum is centered on New York City. Second graders embarked into the city every week for a field trip. Not only did I learn how to navigate streets, subway, and ferries with nineteen second graders, but I also saw growth and experiences that cannot be mimicked in the classroom or from a textbook. Children need a chance to explore and interact with the world around them and that’s exactly what we did. From the Staten Island Ferry to the top of Rockefeller Center, my students began to orient themselves and explore what a city needs to function effectively and asking if is it actually meeting the needs of its citizens. These big questions that students grapple with on a regular basis are ones that “grown-ups” still don’t have all the answers to. This type of authentic learning and interaction with the city is something I will take with me into my teaching career.
Megan: I have learned a lot about how to teach in an inclusive manner this semester regarding both gender and race. My cooperating teacher explained to the class that some people use pronouns like he/him, she/her, or they/them to describe themselves and we asked students what pronouns they think fit them best. Some of these ideas were new to me and pushed me to expand my ideas about gender inclusivity, but it was inspiring to see second graders accept these ideas as part of everyday life and begin to advocate for the rights of all students. In addition, I have grown as a racially conscious educator this semester. We acknowledge that race can be an important part of a person’s identity, and that while we are similar in many ways; the differences between us can also add value to our friendships and classrooms. My cooperating teacher has helped me to see that regular representation of a diverse range of people in literature, social studies, and in art can make a huge difference to children’s image of self and confidence. I hope to continue to explore equity work as I move into the teaching profession.
Sam: Student teaching in New York gave me the experience of teaching and learning alongside a wider variety of individuals than any other time in my life. It helped me to answer questions about myself and my own teaching style that I may not have answered by only learning inside of my home state. Working alongside not one, but two other teachers in the classroom has really helped me experience teaching with an entire team. I have a much better understanding on how a cohort of teachers can work together to better themselves, their students, and their classrooms. As a senior, I thought college had already shaped me into the person I was going to be, but this experience helped me grow even more. It helped me become an even more independent and confident individual.
Student teaching in New York City was an unforgettable experience and we are so thankful for all the work Dr. Catherine Pangan, Dr. Arthur Hochman, and the College of Education put into setting up this experience and supporting us throughout the semester.