Tag Archive | "College of Education"

COE introduces minors to comply with new laws

Butler University’s College of Education has added three new minors that are available to students now.

The minors are mild intervention, English as a new language and reading teacher.

An early childhood minor is still in the works. It is waiting  for state approval after being sent through Butler’s approval process.

The reading teacher minor is for future classroom teachers who want additional classes to helpthem teach their students to become avid readers at any age.

After taking these classes,  Butler students can be qualified to take an external exam and receive an additional teaching license in the area of reading.

The English as a new language minor is in high demand because of the increase of students who speak a language other than English.

Rising expectations that young children experience a meaningful and effective early childhood have given a rise in demand for students with this minor. College of Education students already have the option to focus on  elementary education, but this specialized training can help them benefit the children.

State transitioning to a new licensure pattern requires elementary education majors have a minor. These new minors fulfill this requirement, though they are not limited to only elementary education majors.

“Even though the state has initiated this, it’s still important that we provide this for our students because it just makes them more marketable,” said Debra Lecklider, College of Education associate dean.

Lecklider said students leave Butler with so many opportunities. Many elementary education majors have two or even three minors. She said when employers see this, they are amazed.

“It’s just incredible for our (job) placement rate,” Lecklider said.

Senior Shelbi Burnett is a middle / secondary education major and also has a minor in mild intervention.

Burnett said the mild intervention minor will give her significantly more skills in planning for her classroom, working with students with those kinds of needs and being able to design assessments for them.

“That’s not a skill that everyone who graduates from a college of ed leaves with, from any college of education,” Burnett said. “But those are necessary skills that make a good teacher.”

Sue Stahl, student personnel services director, said the students she sees in the minors are passionate about teaching, education and the fact that all students can learn.

“These minors,” Stahl said, “support it and ignite it.”

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Group targets BU students for information

Group targets BU students for information

A lobbying group has been targeting Butler University’s College of Education students to obtain  the syllabi of courses.

The National Council on Teacher Quality has been reaching out to students in the college to offer them money in exchange for syllabi or other course information.

In some cases, representatives from the organization have shown up on campus and posed as students who missed class when the syllabus was first passed out, COE Dean Ena Shelley said.

“I’m very concerned that our students will feel victimized,” Shelley said. “No one should have to worry about being targeted on their own campus.”

The organization’s website states that the group “advocates for reforms in a broad range of teacher policies at the federal, state and local levels in order to increase the number of effective teachers.”

Shelley said the group’s view of reform does not align with the college’s mission and values and said the group’s reporting is misleading.

“They have a tendency to tell people things that serve the organization rather than the teachers or students,” Shelley said.

Last year, Shelley penned a letter  as the president-elect of the Indiana Association of Colleges for Teacher Education advising that universities and colleges not participate in the organization’s project.

The lobbying group has been under fire for not being transparent with its criteria.

Its findings are often used with the US News and World Report to grade and rank education programs at colleges and universities around the country.

Shelley said this is not the first time that she has warned students about the group, and she doesn’t expect it to be the last.

She said she hopes to educate students so the university’s reputation and students’ safety are priorities.

Shelley said one student has come forward to explain that information was given to the group.

As of now, the college passed along the message to prevent any further misinformation.

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Reform affects student teachers

It has become more difficult to place Butler’s approximately 100 student teachers in the midst of education reform and the state’s new teacher evaluation standards, said Sue Stahl, director of student personnel services in the College of Education.

The new evaluation guidelines will become effective next school year. Those who receive low ratings can be dismissed at the end of the school year. If a teacher is rated as ineffective twice over two years, he or she can also be dismissed.

Allison Wright, a senior elementary education major, has been student teaching all school year, first in Washington Township and then in Carmel Clay schools.

She said faculty at both schools have discussed the new evaluation system.

“Schools can be nervous about having student teachers and whether or not that will affect their test scores or evaluations,” she said.

Those ratings are based mostly on observations and also in part on the students’ test scores.

The state’s model is called RISE, but other districts have been implementing their own systems to meet the evaluation standard.

Other reform measures that are beginning to take effect are creation of vouchers, an increase in  the number of charter schools and the state’s ability to take over failing schools.

Wright said that she will definitely take into consideration how a district evaluates teachers when she is applying for jobs but that it is not a major concern in her mind.

“You just take it as it is and do what is best for the kids,” Wright said. “If you’re helping them, everything will be fine.”

Stahl said last year was “tough” for placements, so members of the COE went out ahead of time this year to talk to districts about what taking on a Butler student means and what they could gain.

This was done in order to overcome an initial reaction from administrators and teachers who are already juggling mandates from the state.

“With some of them, it’s almost like they put their hands up and say, ‘Oh no, I can’t take one more thing,’” she said.

Stahl said that reaction usually changes once they reconsider how much classroom experience Butler student teachers have and once the college’s model of student teaching is explained to them.

The COE has started to implement co-teaching, which allows a cooperating teacher to stay in the room for the duration of the student’s placement. It allows them to split the class into groups or have two teachers teaching at the same time.

“Once the schools have got a grasp and understand our co-teaching approach, it’s a much more fluid process for those of us here at Butler,” she said.

Lindley Mundell, a senior elementary education major, student taught in Avon in the fall and is now in Wayne Township schools.

Mundell said she had more control over the classroom during her first placement but that she finds the co-teaching model to be good for both the student teacher and the cooperating teacher.

“It is so great, so worth it, and we learn so much from one another,” she said. “It’s really neat because we can steal ideas from each other, and it makes all of us better.”

Mundell said the reforms are coming at a good time for students graduating in May, even if they might be challenging.

“We’re learning it right alongside those experienced teachers,” she said. “We’re not going to know anything else, whereas it’s a major change for them.”

She said she will take into account the attitude of the school district toward the reforms to see if it aligns with her goals for her students.

It will create an interesting balancing act, Mundell said.

“You have to go in with a different mindset and show that you can abide by the reforms and also be an advocate for the children,” she said.

No matter the district or the age of the students, Stahl said reforms have impacted student teaching and education as a whole.

“(Reform) has affected all of education, because it’s an era of high-stakes accountability,” Stahl said. “Schools are under tremendous pressure money-wise and results-wise to show that children are progressing.”

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OPINION | Education crisis affects more than teachers

Butler University administrators spend a lot of time talking about the Pharmacy program and the College of Business—and for good reason.

But the College of Education deserves some attention as well.

Maybe it’s just me—I’ve lived with and am friends with several education majors—but it seems that Butler’s COE does a lot for its students as well.

The COE fights for educational pedagogy in a country and state with reputations for coming down hard on teachers.

The university says that the College of Education has fantastic post-graduation employment rates.

But before education majors ever see their own teaching contract, they have to student teach.

To student teach, they need to be placed in a school.

In light of school takeovers, as well as changes in teacher and school evaluations and licensing, it can become more difficult to place student teachers.

Butler has a good reputation, and its prospective teachers carry themselves well.

Schools, even those facing problems, should take student teachers for their own and the student teachers’ benefit.

Our student teachers bring optimism, strong educational theory and open minds.

Students will soon be part of this world and could contribute to the solution.

In many situations, it seems, politicians see successful schools as the result of hard-working students.

In failing schools, we are almost always reminded of the teachers.

Very rarely—in either case—does anyone mention conditions outside the classroom.

The reality of the situation is a lot more complex than finding someone to blame.

Any real solution has to accept that fact.

Butler, in general, seems to be preparing its education students to fight the good fight while remaining employable.

Many of my friends in the program have a healthy dose of cynicism.

They know they will be asked to work long hours outside the classroom with little chance of recognition.

“Our professors do a good job of preparing us to defend our existence with cross-curriculum work,” said Katie Bolinger, a junior music education major. “They let us know what to expect as far as being held to sometimes ridiculous standards.”

They still retain their passion for the children, too.

“We’re really optimistic,” said Melissa Rangel, a junior secondary education and English literature major. “A lot of focus is on how we can be a force for change.”

But education majors will need more than just passion and pragmatism.

“I can read books about problems in the education system from 30 or 40 years ago, and they completely apply to things now,” said Rangel. “We basically have the same system we had a hundred years ago—and it’s still not working.”

The Indiana school system and our national education policy need a serious overhaul soon.

Otherwise, passionate, pragmatic teachers will be lost in the demanding system of testing.

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Partnership provides learning experience

Partnership provides learning experience

Relationships key to partnership’s ability to succeed, administrators said.

Building deeper relationships is what educators at both Shortridge Magnet High School and Butler University’s College of Education say is the next step in their part of the partnership.

COE partners with Shortridge for professional development, provides student teachers and holds certain classes at Shortridge.

Shelly Furuness, an assistant professor of education who taught a Butler class at the school, said Shortridge is an interesting case for COE students to study, since it is still developing its magnet and uses techniques such as town hall meetings and democratic classrooms that most students only read about in education textbooks.

“Shortridge has wonderful things to offer, unique things that are not happening anywhere else,” she said. “We don’t hear about those things often enough in the face of the negative news that’s there, because it’s easier to write about.”

Some of that negative news includes the termination of Principal Brandon Cosby in November, layoff notices to both vice principals and fears that Shortridge could face state takeover if it continues  to fail to meet its test score goals. The school failed to make adequate yearly progress, as defined by the Indiana Department of Education, in 2010 and 2011.

Furuness said these concerns can frame how Butler students approach the school, and actually getting involved there helps students to confront their misconceptions.

“It helps them to see beyond the labels of urban school or failing school or troubled school,” she said. “When they talk to a student, they no longer see them as an IPS or urban kid.”

Shortridge teachers

Anne Stanich, the English as a second language teacher at Shortridge, said that the partnership has helped give the high school students role models and increased their interest in college.

She said it could grow though, if there was more involvement after school and during extracurricular activities. One such after-school session was a photography program where students  took photos and wrote around them. Stanich said this format was effective and allowed the Butler students to take on more of a mentoring role.

“After school, they’re more relaxed, it’s more fun, and we can do things that are more outside of the box,” Stanich said. “It would make that connection and bridge that gap, so they’re more willing to work on the academic portion.”

Jon Colby, the communications teacher at Shortridge, has had numerous student teachers observe in his classroom and said he is happy with the interaction he sees.

He said that while he appreciates any time Butler students come to his classroom, communication and consistency could be improved. He said sometimes requests come at the last minute.

“When we have that many people coming into our building,” he said, “it would be more advantageous to form a more consistent connection.”

Like Stanich, Colby said there are ways that Butler students could play a mentoring role, and the Shortridge students react to their teaching.

“Even if [student teachers] say the exact same thing I say, it’s good to reenforce what I say,” Colby said. “When I talk, it’s an old man talking, but when they talk, they’re a 20 year old. It’s different coming from them.”

Butler students at Shortridge

John Dimmick is a student teacher at Shortridge. He grew up in Indianapolis, where he attended a more suburban school and got a degree from Valparaiso University before coming to Butler to attain teaching certification.

While he was first introduced to Shortridge in an education class, he said being a student teacher in a school very different from his own was difficult at first.

“For the Butler students, it can be a slap in the face or a hard dash of reality,” he said. “But it’s a good taste to see what you’re going to face if you end up at an urban school.”

Dimmick said building relationships has been an important strategy for navigating the school.

“Relationships are huge, especially in a place like Shortridge,” he said. “Since they don’t have many resources, the focus isn’t just on academics, but personal and character development, and that’s all about relationships.”

Dimmick said that working at Shortridge has made him a better teacher.

“I was not convinced it was going to be the place for me, but it’s been an experience I definitely needed to have,” he said. “It gave me a good perspective on this side of education, one that is very different than what I experienced personally.”

Junior education major Shelbi Burnett said that while it can be difficult to navigate bureaucracy and implement programs at Shortridge, there is student interest. Burnett is working with other education students on an urban farming project that she hopes will contribute to the future both environmentally and educationally.

“Sustainability means both going green and that you have to create a structure and a framework for learning,” she said.

She said that while teaching in Indianapolis Public Schools can be “unpredictable,” programs and lasting involvement are the way to build the partnership.

Like Dimmick, Burnett said the experience has helped her better understand education.

“I’ve had a paradigm shift that education and learning can be a messy entity,” Burnett said. “These experiences have been invaluable to forming what I think education looks like and what it can look like.”

The Future

Katie Brooks, an assistant professor of education, is on the steering committee and has also worked with the School Change Project, which is funded by a five-year, $1.2 million federal professional development grant to work with teachers on how to reach bilingual children and better integrate them into the school.

She said she would like the partnership to become more like an exchange, where Butler professors teach at Shortridge and Shortridge faculty teach at Butler. She said this would help both sides become more comfortable.

“It takes a couple of years to build relationship and build trust,” Brooks said. “Sometimes there’s some suspicion around university people coming in, but I really think we’re starting to break down those assumptions.

While Colby said everyone he interacts with at Shortridge has the “more the merrier approach” when it comes to having Butler support, Furuness agreed with Brooks, saying that there needs to be an eye toward mutual involvement and benefit as the partnership progresses.

“I never want us to be viewed as people who think they have all the answers for what to do in somebody else’s school, but we are fortunate to have access to have a lot of resources,” Furuness said. “I don’t want them to feel like the partnership is necessary for their success. It’s necessary for our mutual success.”

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Butler partnership to continue despite suspension

Butler partnership to continue despite suspension

Butler University’s College of Education will keep its partnership with Shortridge Magnet High School for Law and Public Policy despite the school’s principal being suspended.

Currently, Butler is engaged in a partnership with the school to allow juniors and seniors to enroll in one three-credit course each semester at the university through the Early College Program.

Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent Eugene White suspended Shortridge Principal Brandon Cosby on Nov. 4.

Cosby was hired in 2008 to transform the school into a magnet school and help build and maintain the partnership between the schools.

White recommended that Cosby be fired for poor supervision of students, insubordination and failure to supervise faculty, provide leadership, collaborate with Butler in the partnership, send spending reports to funders and complete teacher evaluations.

Despite this, Butler will continue its partnership with the school, COE dean Ena Shelley said in an email to The Collegian.

“We remain committed to our partnership work with Shortridge,” she said.

Susan Sutherlin, director of peer tutoring and instructor of English, teaches a service-learning course at Shortridge with graduate and undergraduate students. Sutherlin said all of Butler’s activities at Shortridge are continuing as planned.

“We are continuing to plan for our next semester, and we are still active and welcome in the building, as we have been from the very beginning,” Sutherlin said. “So from our perspective, their need and our service have not changed.”

IPS director of school and community relations Mary Bewley said part of the rationale considered for the suspension came after some Butler staff members shared concerns with a team investigating the matter. These were made public at a meeting White held with parents.

“We had an investigative team that interviewed all the staff at Shortridge and spoke to members of staff at Butler,” Bewley said. “There were some negative comments from Butler shared with the public by the superintendent on Saturday.”

Ultimately Bewley said she thinks the controversy may have an effect on students.

“I think it is going to be very disruptive [to the students’ education],” Bewley said. “While it’s unfortunate it has to happen in the middle of the semster, it has to be done.”

WTHR reported that many parents expressed concerns about the firing at White’s meeting with them.

“Mr. Cosby has found a way to get through to these kids,” the WTHR report quoted a mother as saying. “You remove him as a leader, you put them two, three steps back.”

Currently the school’s two assistant principals are acting in place of Cosby indefinitely. Cosby is still being paid by IPS and can appeal White’s decision, which would prompt a school board review within 10 days.

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COPHS illustrates its world

Photo by Maria Porter

Childhood consists of many blissful elements: Candyland, the zoo and Sesame Street to name a few.  The subject of pharmacy typically gets left off the list.  But one College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences professor at Butler University wants to help kids understand what it means to be a pharmacist by writing a children’s book.

Erin Albert, assistant professor of pharmacy, came up with the idea for a children’s book after discussing the idea with her colleagues, many of whom are young mothers.

“I thought it would be awesome to demonstrate the value of pharmacy to younger children,” Albert said.

It’s an idea that three colleges are behind. The Jordan College of Fine Arts, College of Education and COPHS are working together to make this idea a reality.

And although the idea is Albert’s, the book itself will be put together by three students from each college, including Stacey Scheidler, who is in her sixth year at COPHS.

“When this opportunity presented itself, I jumped right on it,” Scheidler said. “I have worked in a pharmacy for the past four years, and knew that I would be able to provide information regarding how to portray a pharmacist to a child, what a child might remember from being in a pharmacy or how pharmacists relate medications and prescriptions to children.”

The story follows a young boy as he gets sick, visits the doctor and goes to a pharmacy with a prescription in hand. On the way, the boy learns that pharmacists are there to help him.

“Children should not be afraid of pharmacists,” Albert said. “They help make sick people better.”

The tale will be told with rhymes and illustrations— Dr. Seuss style.

“The ultimate goal is to relate what a pharmacist does on a daily basis to a child in hopes of the child becoming a pharmacist in the future,” Scheidler said.
“A lot of children grow up want[ing] to be a doctor or a firefighter,” said Laura Kramer, a senior strategic communication major who is volunteering on the project.

Many children do not have a basic understanding of pharmacy or how it helps people, Kramer said.  Through colorful images and clever rhymes, children will be able to understand  easily the world of pharmacy and hopefully inspire them to want to learn more.

Working on the book has been a group effort, which Scheidler said has not always been easy, but the efforts are going to pay off.

“We have created a great book so far and will continue to work hard until the book is sent to the publisher,” Scheidler said.

The gang of nine is working to meet a Dec. 15 publishing deadline. Their hope is to have the book printed and available by May.

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Education reform affects future teachers

While heated education reform debates across the nation are reaching an apex, many professionals in the education field believe legislators are focusing too much on the placement and control of power instead of students’ best interests.

Issues being addressed by legislatures in Indiana and other states include the expansion of charter schools and voucher programs, changes in the way teachers are evaluated and paid and limits on teachers’ ability to bargain collectively.

“Unfortunately, these efforts are missing the mark in what should be a collective goal, namely improving all students’ opportunities to learn,” Brooke Kandel, assistant professor of education, said.

Junior education major Chris Beaman had the opportunity to shadow the Indiana Superintendent for Public Instruction. He said while this opportunity opened his mind to other viewpoints, he still firmly believes that the focus of education reform needs to be on the students.

“I don’t believe in teacher unions because it allows teachers to disengage after three years,” Beaman said. “I believe that the teaching profession should be just as risky as other professional fields, because when teachers disengage, the students suffer.”

Kandel also said that the proposed reforms, “put more power in the hands of decision-makers who are far from the realities of teaching and learning in our K-12 schools.”

Angela Lupton, assistant dean of the College of Education, agreed, saying she also believes that teacher’s voices need to be more present in order for a solution to happen.

“Conversations surrounding reform need to highlight the success stories taking place in classrooms,” Lupton said. “This would prove that even when schools might not meet education requirements, students are still growing and developing.”

To improve education, many lawmakers have proposed evaluating teachers based on standardized test scores, which Kandel believes will create competition amongst teachers and take the focus off students.

“We especially need teachers who will advocate for equity, challenge assumptions that are made about certain children and work in what some consider the most difficult settings,” Kandel said.

Beaman said the arguments do not discourage him but rather invigorate him in his desire to be a teacher.

“I’m passionate about education and, if anything, these debates have given me even more drive to enter the field with a positive solution to these problems and to help put the attention back on the students,” Beaman said.

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COE scores perfect placement rate

Many students’ worry about what they will do after college. If you’re part of Butler’s College of Education, rest assured.

COE students can smile through the economic downturn, as it boasted a 100 percent placement rate from December 2009 to May 2010.

Sue Stahl, COE director of student personal services, said 102 students graduated as program preparers—meaning the students received a basic teaching license from the COE—and 100 of them are now either employed in teaching positions, a non-education position or going to graduate school.

She said the other two students were not seeking employment as one was a “happy new mother” and the other was finishing up a novel.

“It is evidence of the quality of our teacher education programs and the high caliber of students at Butler University,” Ena Shelley, COE Dean, said. “The challenges in education have never been greater, but our continued placement rate shows that our students are prepared and are successful.”

Shelley said the COE was not the only university factor involved in the placement rate success.

“I do want to add a note of thanks to all of the faculty in [Liberal Arts and Sciences] and [Jordan College of Fine Arts] who played a significant role in preparing our students as well,” Shelley said. “Building on a strong liberal arts foundation makes our students better prepared for the demands of teaching.”

Once they have that liberal arts foundation, Stahl said she encourages students to introduce themselves as a Butler graduate within the first meeting of each potential employer.

“This statement alone opens many doors because of the reputation Butler and the COE has,” she said. “Our teacher prep programs are well known for being thorough and successful.”

Danielle Konigsbacher, a 2010 Butler graduate is now teaching 8th grade language arts at Lynhurst 7th and 8th Grade Center.

“There is history of Butler graduates being excellent teachers in the Indianapolis community,” she said. “I think just being able to say ‘I am from Butler’ causes schools to want to call me in for an interview.

“Another great thing about the COE is that it connects students to the school districts around Indianapolis through many intensive field experiences.

“I felt like I knew at least one teacher from all the major districts that I could call to ask for a recommendation to their HR department after I sent in an application.”

Stahl said she feels success like Konigsbacher’s relates to the “connectiveness” the program has to the education community.

She said the students establish those connections from their freshman year and it continues past graduation.

Stahl said of the 100 graduates, 62 hold an Indiana teaching position, 19 are teaching out of state, 11 are in graduate school or taking prerequisites for graduate school and eight hold non-education positions such as being involved with independent tutoring, coaching or the Peace Corps.

“The choice of where to go is left up to the student,” she said. “But we present them opportunities.”

Stahl said the COE takes it’s students to an international job fair as well as providing two full days of on-campus interviews with potential employers.

She said many students stay in Indiana because in many cases they have already made connections with those employers during their undergraduate careers.

The college contacts every graduate in a “person-to-person” manner, whether through email or a phone call, to keep up with their career tracks.

Stahl said only last week, recent graduate Caitlin Schmitz contacted her to let the COE know of her new job with Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.

Schmitz, facing a tough Illinois job market, was subbing in the Chicago area when a position in the education department at Shedd opened up, Stahl said.

“She was able to take her teaching background and use in a setting beyond a classroom setting,” Stahl said.

Schmitz, whose official title at the Shedd Aquarium is museum science educator, will start Oct. 11.

“I will work in accordance with Chicago Public Schools teachers in a mentoring program to promote science education as well as develop and oversee various professional development opportunities the Shedd Aquarium and their associated partners offer,” Schmitz said.

Schmitz credits her Butler professors for giving her the inspiration to think outside of the box and for instilling a drive and excitement to enter the education world.

“My professors at Butler gave me the inspiration I needed to go beyond what I think is possible,” she said. “It’s not necessarily the push that drove me, but the excitement and encouragement I received from my professors in making a difference in the education world.

Schmitz said the COE influenced her to begin applying for career opportunities early within her senior year by providing constant resources as well as résumé and cover letter help.

“Without their knowledge and constant uplifting of my confidence, I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today,” Schmitz said.

It is opportunities like Schmitz’ that promote the positive approach to the career field the COE leaves within its graduates, Stahl said.

“Because of [Butler’s] quality of candidates, quality of leadership in college, quality of faculty and quality of programs, I wouldn’t expect any less of our graduates in years to come,” she said. “This year, even in a challenging economy, our students were thinking positively and created their own opportunities.”

Shelley said COE students will be ahead of the game when it comes to wading through the tough job market.

“I think the success rate will continue because schools are desperately seeking out ‘the best and the brightest,’ she said. “Fortunately, that is exactly what we offer in the COE.”

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