2017 Listening Session Recap — Education

Faciliator: Dr. Tim Goodwin, assistant professor and chair, BSU Department of Professional Education
Location: Bemidji High School Media Center

TOPIC: General appreciation for the community engagement and support of the BSU Department of Professional Education

  • In eighth year as principal of Bemidji High School and 16 years as an elementary teacher and assistant principal, I appreciate the leadership and contributions of BSU, including placement of student teachers – “The feeling I have as a principal is that we’re all in this together and we want to produce the best product we can.” (Brian Stefanich, principal, Bemidji High School)
  • Appreciate free professional development BSU offers. Availability of Glenn Richgels is “awesome,” and Derek Webb is very quick in responding to statistical questions. (Amie Westberg, math teacher, Park Rapids Area High School)
  • “I love that I teach in a college town” – student teachers ask good questions that I have forgotten about at this stage in my career. Appreciates quick responses from BSU faculty to questions – “I got five responses in three days.” (Mary Overlie, director of curriculum and instruction/math teacher, Trek North High School)
  • Teaching for almost 20 years, have been coming back to BSU for different things throughout that time. Appreciate summer programs, grants for low-cost professional development over the summer. “It’s nice to go back and have people who can guide you in the right direction, and not just over the summer. You can call them at any time. (Becky Rud, undergraduate student at BSU)
  • Recalls when was in Bagley and teaching a class developed by the math department at BSU through a grant, intended to help seniors place higher in college courses – “and they came out once a week and met with me, asking, ‘What are you going to do this week, and what are your problems?’” (Becky Rud, BSU student)
  • Would not have been able to get master’s if not for the summer programs offered – not only very affordable but also high quality, with individualized support. (Amanda Mix, math specialist, Bemidji Area Public Schools)
  • Working on master’s at BSU, “and I’m constantly contacting BSU to ask, ‘What can I do better.’ They say, ‘Here, try this, or here are three different examples you can try.” (Kristie O’Bierne, middle and high school math teacher, Bagley schools)
  • Earned master’s at BSU and encourages others in the region to do the same – “and you don’t have to drive to Fargo.” (Amie Westberg, Park Rapids)

TOPIC: Ways to provide better service to teachers and schools in the region.

  • Some teachers are interested in being able to get a more specialized master’s in education. (Amie Westberg, Park Rapids)
  • Would like BSU to offer more professional development opportunities in region south of Bemidji – Park Rapids, Walker, Laporte, Nevis, Sabeka. (Amie Westberg, Park Rapids)
  • Are their ways BSU could help mentor first-year teachers? “There are so many things thrown at you in your first year that you’re oblivious to while you’re going to school.” This would help with turnover, which is 50 percent within five years, even higher in math. (Kristie O’Bierne, Bagley)
  • Could BSU help find and facilitate student teaching opportunities in the summer “so licensing can occur?” Bemidji High School doesn’t allow teachers to do any student teaching during the school year; considered a breach of contract. (Amanda Mix, Bemidji)
  • Suggestion that graduates of BSU professional ed could meet with student teachers from districts around the region once a month to share questions and advice. (Jessica Strom, math teacher/staff development, Win-E-Mac Public Schools, Erskine )
  • Harder to get student teachers at more isolated districts and could use help from BSU to help encourage those placements. (Jessica Strom, Win-E-Mac)

TOPIC: Critique of preparedness of student teachers from BSU.

  • Now have two English and two social studies teachers – really look forward to getting to work with BSU students. (Kristie O’Bierne, Bagley)
  • Helpful to have discussion in advance about the role of student teachers. Program is very well laid out now – paperwork, etc. – “We know what our role is, too. I appreciate that.” (Becky Rud, BSU student)
  • In addition to the normal situation of feeling completely overwhelmed, recent student teachers have come to realize they don’t really understand the Minnesota standards at a higher competency level – “They knew how to integrate a standard into a lesson: ‘Here are the standards we are going to add,’ but in terms of creative a formative assessment, the students do not understand the standards … . There is a lack of competence there. … It would be great if there could be a course in understanding and applying the standards – how to break those down.” As an example, the students aren’t able to distinguish how to evaluate standards based on the verb that is used, such as “identity or locate” or “create.” (Amanda Mix, Bemidji)
  • Also, students need to understand the terms students will be exposed to on the statewide assessment, such as the fact that a “pictorial” is a picture. (Amanda Mix)
  • Seems to be a gap in general education student teachers’ awareness of special ed, such as we now have a student teacher who said “we don’t learn anything” about special ed, and they have to learn in the field, “whereas at places like UMD they can get a joint license in special ed. (Mary Overly, Trek North)
  • Question about whether students are learning about the meaning of a Title I intervention. (Goodwin replies that there is a course called Adaptations in Management, adding, “What I’m hearing is they’re not transferring that course to their practice.”) (Amanda Mix, Bemidji)
  • Encourage teaching students to be aware of the option for a class-wide Title I intervention if most students in a class are struggling with the same concept. (Amanda Mix, Bemidji)
  • Some professional teachers continue to be concerned about impact of having a student teacher on student test scores, and that makes them reluctant to seek one out. (Mary Overlie, Trek North)
  • Interest in exploring idea of co-teaching with students instead. (group)