Submitted by Dr. Lee Vartanian, Campus Director
BY EMILY MOORE
Columbia College Junior Teaching Fellow
The Columbia College Teaching Fellows Program is committed to helping future teachers understand and interact with the world of teaching as they become teacher leaders. Not only does the school offer a plethora of opportunities and experiences for the future teachers, but it also helps Fellows with the financial cost of attending the college as well. While the Teaching Fellows program itself awards each fellow a scholarship, Columbia College is the only South Carolina institution to supplement the award given by CERRA, up to the cost of full tuition. Columbia College is committed and proud of its Fellows, and the Teaching Fellows scholarship supplement is just one of the ways that the college gives back to its future teacher leaders. Bailey Dawkins, a secondary English education major, describes the CC Teaching Fellows program as an institution that “has given me a number of opportunities to see different schools and classrooms from a non-high school student perspective.” With the First Days of School experience and the Sophomore Internship that the CC program provides, she has been exposed to many different types of classrooms and educational settings. Therefore, she feels well prepared and knowledgeable about multiple education methods, trends, and issues. The Teaching Fellows program at Columbia College has provided her with “many opportunities to learn about and develop skills that I will need to become an effective educator in the future.” Each year boasts a new list of endeavors for our Fellows, and first-years start learning the practices for becoming effective teachers right away.
Beginning the freshman year, fellows are encouraged and supported as they adjust themselves to college life and begin to focus on their introductory classes. They are also asked, along with their sophomore peers, to attend Teacher Cadet class visits at high schools surrounding the midlands. During these visits, our fellows talk to high-school students who are interested in the field of education.
Sophomore year is a busy and exciting time for CC fellows. As students approach their sophomore year, they begin to dive wholeheartedly into the process of becoming successful teachers. They spend the first days of school in the classroom of a current teacher in their hometown. The fellows link what they have learned through experience in the classroom with the wise words of Harry Wong in The First Days of School. Using the book as a guide and their teacher as a knowledgeable resource, fellows acclimate themselves to the everyday tasks and duties of a teacher and begin to understand just how much goes into setting up a classroom for the schoolyear.
Internships, another opportunity that takes place during the fellows’ sophomore year, are unique to Columbia College. We are the only South Carolina Teaching Fellows institution to offer this experience to our Fellows. Each sophomore is required to complete twenty-five hours of work at her internship site, although many went above and beyond this requirement. This past semester, our Fellows worked closely with program administers at locations such as Camp Discovery, the Palmetto State Teachers Association, Junior Achievement, the Special Olympics, Girls Empowered, and more!
Also in their sophomore year, CC fellows attend a conference hosted by CERRA. This past year, our fellows traveled to Charleston, along with other South Carolina cohorts, to build positive relationships between schools and hear inspirational words of wisdom from guest speakers. They even got to explore the South Carolina Aquarium as a cohort.
In their junior year, CC fellows explore and narrow their passion for teaching through an action research project. Each junior Fellow is asked to pick an issue or question surrounding the field of education that they feel passionately about. Some juniors may choose to explore questions such as “why is teaming important in middle school?” or “what effects does poverty have on elementary school students?” While students begin to think about and choose their topic in the fall of their junior year, research begins in the spring semester. After culminating research and preparing their project, fellows present their topics in the fall of their senior year during a celebration of our fellows that takes place as part of the college’s celebration of American Education Week. At this event seniors receive their Teaching Fellows medallion form the South Carolina Teacher of the Year that they proudly wear at graduation.
In both their junior and senior years, CC fellows attend a leadership event located at either Camp Greenville in the Appalachian Mountains or in the Downtown Historic Charleston/Folly Beach area. The junior/senior trip focuses on team building, leadership skills, and teaching resources across the state. The focus at Camp Greenville is on team building activities, personal challengers, and, while there, Fellows learn how to use literature to enrich curriculum. Nature is also used as an educational tool. In the Coastal region, the focus is on the history, culture, and environment of the low country. This past year, the fellows enjoyed a tour of the historic Charleston streets in the Charleston Coastal region. The tour was led by Mark Teseniar, the father of senior CC fellow, Laila Teseniar. Junior and senior fellows also enjoyed a behind the scenes tour of the South Carolina Aquarium, and were treated to a picnic lunch by the beach.
Senior year comes with both excitement and challenge for CC fellows. As they near the end of their career as undergraduates, fellows eagerly await their final semester as future teachers. During their final semester at CC, all education majors enroll in directed teaching. While students spend time in the classroom in both Education 260 and 360, Directed Teaching is different in that it allows students to spend sixty days in a classroom working under an experienced teacher, and even allows teacher candidates to have two weeks of their own lesson plans and teaching time under the direction of the cooperating teacher and college supervisor. And CC is proud that our college supervisors are the faculty that have trained and supported us to this point.
The Columbia College Teaching Fellows program allows future teacher leaders the opportunity to explore and prosper in the field of education, and the college offers a wide variety of majors to choose from in this discipline. The Division of Education is home to early childhood, elementary, middle-level, secondary English and math, special education and dance majors, and each one is given ample opportunity to grow and learn in the field of education. Sara Monts, a dance education major and sophomore Teaching Fellow, states that “Teaching Fellows as a dance education major has given me so many more classroom and leadership opportunities that my fellow dance majors haven’t had. I’ve gotten to spend time in several dance classrooms learning what I am interested in teaching about, which is something many others don’t get to experience. Being a Teaching Fellow as a dance education major also gives me the ability to normalize dance as a subject that can be taught in all schools and to educate others about the importance of dance- which is something I am very passionate about!” In addition to its different majors and degree requirements, CC offers small class sizes, close relationships between cohorts, and a tight-knit community of future teachers and lifelong learners. In fact, after putting away our “teaching attire” and informational texts, a social or two may be held in pajamas and usually involves ice cream sundaes!
By: Jenna Hallman