Lutherans in Minnesota

Gustavus Adolphus College sends student teachers around the world

For many years, education majors at Gustavus Adolphus College have been learning on the job through student teaching experiences in such Minnesota public school districts as Shakopee, New Prague, Le Sueur, and Eden Prairie. While Gustavus still relies heavily on local school districts for student teaching placements, today’s Gustavus education majors have the opportunity to do part of their student teaching in unique and exotic locations.

Last fall, five Gustavus students completed a session of their student teaching at the International School at Sotogrande, located on the southeast coast of Spain. In the spring, six other students had a similar experience in Barrow, the northernmost point of Alaska. Along with their student teaching duties, the students were immersed in the culture of the native Inupiaq Tribe, which relies heavily on hunting, fishing, and whaling in order to survive.

The program is directed by Debra Sandquist, Gustavus’ coordinator of teacher admissions and field experiences. She has spent a great deal of time scouting potential sites that would enrich a Gustavus student’s student teaching experience. “I’m looking for somewhere that will provide an indigenous culture, somewhere with elements of social justice to align with the College’s values and mission,” Sandquist explained, “and a location where the students will have an opportunity to engage in a second language learning experience.”

One unique aspect of the program is that the students involved all live together in one house to create a professional learning community, and therefore have a much more shared and reflective experience.

The program also features opportunities for faculty members from the proposed site to visit Gustavus and work with the education department methodology courses through a faculty exchange.

“The difficult part for us right now is having to limit the number of students involved,“ Sandquist told Metro Lutheran. “Each site affords us five to six student teaching slots.”

“One of our students, Anthony Bissen, decided to accept a teaching position [in Barrow] and is there right now to further his career,” she added.

This article is adapted from one originally appearing on the Gustavus Adolphus Web site.