Kennett High teaching class reaches new level

Kennett High teaching class reaches new level
Posted on 04/26/2018
This is the image for the news article titled Kennett High teaching class reaches new levelLloyd Jones Apr 26, 2018
Original Article at Conway Daily Sun

CONWAY — A group of high school students, under the guidance of teacher Kelley Murphy, are leading the way toward the future of teacher education and getting an early behind-the-scenes look at how teachers and classrooms work.

The students are members of Curriculum and Methods of Teaching class, the highest level course currently offered in the Kennett High School teacher education program.

Emily Bean, Zara Cheney, Kiana Cheney, Tasha Gaudette, Madison Gifford, Dara Glennie, Liz Kenny, Casey Leavitt, Megan Martin, Courtney Micciulla, Renee Moon, Sarah Nelson, Danielle Solomon, Olivia Stewart, Sara Tetreault and Samantha Villnave are taking part in the course, which is being offered for the first time this year.

Villnave, a junior, said she really clicked in the classroom at Conway Elementary in Patty Poulin’s kindergarten class, although she doesn’t see herself teaching that grade. She is drawn to teaching sixth grade, she said, but the experience helped her understand the importance of a structured classroom and how to achieve it.
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“I love her classroom management skills,” she said of Poulin: “You go in there and think she’s a little harsh, but if you sit with her you see exactly why she is doing this, and it works. She has a very structured classroom and it’s amazing. We know she has kids who don’t necessarily come from great environments, but she treats everybody the same. ... She wants them all to grow up and be respectful, polite and good people. I see her teach, and then she’ll go and make side comments to me on why I did this or this is why I did that. It helped me learn.”

These are the sorts of experiences Murphy, who heads up the teaching program at the high school, says students can’t get from lectures and books.

Murphy affectionately refers to the 16 students in the all-female class as the “Girlies,” and says the newly revamped program is giving them a chance to spend more time with teachers in classrooms at a full range of disciplines and grade levels, something most future teachers don’t have until they reach college.

For almost two decades, teaching classes in high school have been geared toward early childhood education, which focused exclusively on pre-kindergarten to kindergarten.

“That was the charge and had been the charge for years,” Murphy said. “About six years ago the state (Department of Education) re-evaluated and said we’re not giving these future teachers the best opportunities out there because there’s so much more out there than pre-K. That’s when the program started to transition to become ‘teacher education multiple levels.’ We here didn’t fully embrace that until two years ago. I’m the first to get the teacher education multiple levels endorsement in the state of New Hampshire.”

The KHS teaching program operates the long-established Little Eagles Preschool under its umbrella, giving high school students interested in teaching ample opportunity to work with young children.

In part because of her experience there, Moon, a senior, knows she wants to teach middle schoolers. “I want to have more intellectual conversations rather than, ‘What color is this?’ I’m really interested in developing more personal relationships with older kiddos,” she said.

“(Little Eagles) is the perfect experience for the whole pre-K, but now that I get to prepare them for pre-K through grade 12, we needed more than what we have here right now,” Murphy said. “Last year, for the first time, we did site visits (with 11 students) and we spent eight weeks at Conway Elementary, and that was the extent of it. We went twice a week for about eight to 10 weeks, and they totally embraced us. That was kind of my trial run.”

This year, they doubled that, with the three seniors and 13 juniors in the class spending eight weeks at Conway Elementary School and eight at Pine Tree School in Center Conway, inside classrooms, observing and interacting with teachers and students to get a first-hand look at the profession and see if this might be a career path for them. Additional observations are planned for John H. Fuller School and Kennett Middle School.

Solomon, a junior, wants to become a middle school music teacher.  “I’ve always known that I wanted to do music, but after being at the middle school, I felt like I could do this,” she said.

Curriculum and Methods of Teaching is a two-credit course for which students are expected to have already “mastered or be proficient in the basic teaching skills and the growth and development of children.” In addition to working closely with teachers in classrooms, they study curriculum planning, differentiated instruction, special education and observation skills, and create a professional portfolio.
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“The opportunity to spend time in eight different classrooms, for me, is priceless,” Murphy said.

Murphy said her favorite take away was when, after spending time in an elementary classroom, one student said, “Murph, my heart is so full now.”

The students have visited all of the classrooms in grades K-8 including industrial arts, physical education, arts and music classes. Students start out observing and then teach mini-lessons, do one-on-one instruction and group instruction.

“Some of our Girlies really wanted middle school, some wanted elementary school and some have changed,” she said. “Whenever we leave a spot they never want to leave, and then we get to the next place, and it’s becoming the same thing.”

Ten of the 13 juniors have expressed interest in internships next year, where they expect to continue to hone their craft by working in schools in the valley.

“We’ll start in June pairing them up with a classroom for next year,” Murphy said. “Not everyone wants to work in a traditional classroom but most everyone wants to work with children in some capacity.”

Micciulla, a junior who has her sights set on teaching second grade, said she’s already picked a class to intern with. “I really made a connection at Conway El. As soon as I was in there, I just clicked with the teacher and all the kids,” she said. “Every single one of the kids wrote me a letter thanking me for being there, and the teacher wrote me a card saying she was looking forward to working with me next year.”

Murphy sees considerable benefits to her students getting into a variety of classrooms and observing.

“The more time our students can spend in classrooms before they go into teaching, the stronger educators they will be,” Murphy said. “The majority of teachers do not have the opportunity to be in classrooms until their second or third year of college. Our students have the opportunity to try out a variety of ages and schools well before they have to make important decisions about their future educational adventures.”

What would it mean to Murphy to see some of these Eagles go on to become teachers?

“I can’t wait for that moment! I can’t think of anything better than being able to one day call these young professionals my colleagues.”
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