In December of 2011, Regina Tagara, the principal of an elementary school in Indonesia, graduated with a master’s in education degree from Concordia online. She loved her experience – and Concordia – so much that she sent Concordia Director of Graduate Studies, Dr. Lori Sanchez, an email asking if Concordia University-Portland had ever considered partnering with an international school.
A unique partnership.
More than a year later and with the blessing of the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission, a formal six-week MAT international practicum was created.
According to Dr. Sanchez, “It’s a win/win for everyone. Our students get to go into the field and teach in a classroom that provides truly diverse and unique learning opportunities. They’re exposed to a completely different culture, including language differences. For soon-to-be teachers who have never really experienced teaching outside the traditional U.S. classroom, this experience gives them new insights. It will definitely stretch their comfort zone.”
Educator becomes student.
“By fully immersing our education grad students into a different culture, they gain first-hand experience teaching English to language learners,” says Dr. Sanchez. “They return with a different outlook that changes their sensitivity to the challenges of today’s classroom here in the United States.”
Students enrolled in this practicum will go to Indonesia in the spring where they will be required to teach full-time for six weeks. During that time, they will also be responsible to handle a three-week unit on their own.
Dr. Sanchez summarizes the program this way: “The practicum gives MAT students the opportunity to grow personally and discover what it means to be a learner in a different culture. They will be, essentially, a minority in their Indonesian classroom – speaking a different language, looking different, having different customs. When they come back to the states and stand in front of their own classroom after graduation, up to 50 percent of their students will most likely be English learners – and they’ll know exactly how that feels.”
Innovative programs like this are the hallmark of Concordia’s graduate programs in education.