Bachelor of education focuses on classroom skills, hands-on learning

Being in an actual classroom is critical to a pre-service teacher’s success. It’s vital to learn how to engage students, how classes run, and experience the atmosphere of a real school. The more time spent there the better. That’s what attracts students to the bachelor of education program at the University of New Brunswick.

Jennifer Dykerman will keep what she learned in the program with her wherever she goes. Even though she graduated in 2015, she continues to carry binders filled with insights that her professors and mentors shared.

“The program at UNB offered more opportunity to be in an actual classroom, practicing teaching, compared to other education programs I was looking into,” said Ms. Dykerman, who is now an associate faculty member at Rothesay Netherwood School.

The UNB bachelor of education program is unique in that the students are in New Brunswick schools from the beginning of the academic year. They’re present for the first week, which sets the tone for the entire year, according to the faculty’s field services director, Kim Landine.

“Educators agree that being in the classroom that first week promotes better understanding of the classroom setting,” Ms. Landine said.

Pre-service teachers in classrooms before school starts

Pre-service teachers go into schools before classes start, attending meetings and getting the chance to watch teachers prepare for the school year. Being there from the get-go allows them to experience, with the classroom teacher, the first meeting with the new students.

“It’s an excellent opportunity for them to create a rapport with the students,” said Ms. Landine.

Pre-service teachers have three blocks during which they spend time in schools. The first block includes the first week before school begins in September along with the first week back to school.

They also spend every Monday at school until the second block, which runs from the end of November to mid-December. In January, students return to schools every Monday until the end of March. The third block then runs until mid-May.

Program expertly designed with stakeholders

The program was designed with the larger community in mind. The faculty met with stakeholders, including teachers and principals, and came to the conclusion that beginning educators should be in real classrooms earlier and more often.

“This is a feature that makes our program special. It is part of UNB’s program model because we and our stakeholders see it as necessary,” said Kathy Winslow, associate dean of undergraduate programs for the faculty of education.

The 11-month, 60-credit bachelor of education is a draw for many because of its program length. It’s an intensive period, but it allows students to enter the job market more quickly, with the skills they need when they enter the workforce.

The program’s elements were a draw for Ms. Dykerman, but it was the passion of the faculty she’ll always remember.

“The faculty that UNB has gathered is the perfect group of people who love to teach. They were nothing but inspirational for a group of new teachers. They are entirely dedicated to their students.”

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