By Cameron Bocanegra | Reporter
For six semesters, Baylor’s School of Education keeps their pre-service students volunteering and teaching in public schools across rural, urban and suburban settings in multiple districts.
The program is designed to throw education students into the classroom feet-first, to provide a genuine experience of what their future will look like as educators.
“The School of Education supports our students while they learn in the environment they will graduate from and work in,” said Dr. Rachelle Rogers, a campus liaison at one of the Baylor’s Professional Development Schools campuses. “It is one thing if we have classes here about what it’s like teaching, but it doesn’t make sense to be talking about it and not be doing it.”
In traditional education programs, field work does not happen until the senior year. At Baylor, education students are put in a school setting immediately during their freshman year. They tutor students one-on-one with lesson plans personalized according to their student’s scores, personality and the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) standards.
For two semesters they do this, and then move on to the second part of the program, Challenge Academy, an alternative school where they tutor another student, but instead of personalized lesson plans, they are working with assistive teaching software.
“Switching from a public middle school my freshman year to an alternative school was a weird transition,” said Seal Beach, Calif., junior Gigi Mendoza, who is studying all levels of education. “It really showed me the different way alternative schools work.”
The program rotates students through different campuses depending on a student’s concentration. During the second semester of Mendoza’s sophomore year, she switched to the Baylor Center for Developmental Disabilities while another sophomore may have gone to a different campus depending on if they were secondary, elementary, all level, special education or just minoring.
“Junior [year] is the real work grind,” Brownsville senior Joey Tamayo said. “For two to three periods at 8 a.m., you are dressed up like a real teacher, professional and all.”
The third phase of the preparation is the full year of being a teacher’s assistant, so the juniors spend the first two periods three days out of the week in a classroom to prepare them for a full year as a school intern during their senior year.
In the final stage of the program during senior year, Baylor School of Education students start the school year two weeks early co-teaching with real educators at public schools. They lead the classroom nine weeks out of the school year to finalize all six semesters in the classroom that culminate in to their intern year. Many graduates from the School of Education have the opportunity to be hired as a second-year teacher with higher pay because of their experience.
“The thing about the program is it expects us to be teachers,” Tamayo said. “It does not treat us like students. It treats us like future and present educators — because we are.”