The Teacher Education Program (TEP) at Nebraska Wesleyan University provides a number of field experiences that are designed to progressively prepare candidates to work effectively with a diverse student population in a wide variety of education roles. Applicants and candidates assume the role of observers, tutors, instructors, managers, planners, assessors, collaborators and team members. The experiences are designed to provide candidates with opportunities to develop and apply the concepts, skills and theories presented in professional-, general education- and certification-courses in a variety of educational settings. The field experiences beginning in core education courses, continue in methods courses, and culminate with the student teaching experience.
These well-planned, high quality and sequenced experiences enable education candidates to develop the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to assume full responsibility for classroom instruction or other professional roles in schools. The TEP curriculum provides candidates with early (first-year), frequent and consistent, field experiences. The field experiences are sequenced according to learning and teaching theories discussed in core education courses. For example, the initial ED 1750 field experience is based on phases of student development while concurrently being completed with ED 1010 “Introduction to Education.” Early field experiences help applicants reduce their anxiety toward teaching and help them explore and determine if teaching is the desired profession.
The beginning field experience (e.g., ED 1750) is primarily for observation and exploration purposes. In the core courses (Ed 2050, 2060; SPED 1760, 2070), and in other education courses taken at the sophomore and junior level (e.g., SPED 2180, 2190, 2200) candidates progress from observing elementary, middle and high school classrooms to assisting the classroom teacher, tutoring individual students and, in many cases, instructing a small group of students with/without developmental disabilities while working with and experienced classroom teacher. Candidates often have the opportunity to work collaboratively with other teachers and staff members such as paraprofessionals, speech/language pathologists, occupational therapists, music, and physical education specialists.
At the junior and senior levels, in the various methods courses, ED 3350, and 3640, candidates begin by observing a classroom teacher and eventually move to planning, teaching, and assessing a unit in the classroom. In addition to developing a unit, candidates make modifications and adaptations to their lessons to accommodate the needs of culturally diverse and exceptional learners. In student teaching, candidates move from observing to taking full responsibility for the learning process under the guidance and supervision of the cooperating teacher and college supervisor.