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Summertime doesn’t mean that classroom learning opportunities stop for our teacher candidates.

All education majors at UAB must complete multiple field experiences before moving through our teacher education program (TEP) and on to student teaching. Fieldwork is often the first chance for those interested in teaching to get hands-on experience working with children or teenagers in a classroom setting. Typically, fieldwork includes tutoring, mentoring, observing play learning activities, etc. 

"Fieldwork plays a pivotal role in a teacher candidate's development by allowing them to engage directly in the classroom setting," says Julie P. Flannery, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education in the UAB School of Education’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction. "In this practice, pre-service teachers apply their theoretical knowledge learned in coursework to schools in the Birmingham metro area. Candidates navigate as practitioners through collaborating, problem-solving, and self-reflecting habits. This practical application is an essential precursor for student teaching."

Even though traditional school is not in session during the summer, UAB teacher candidates still have opportunities to conduct their fieldwork that provide them with valuable hands-on experience before their semester-long student teaching internship. 

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“The importance of field experiences is undeniable,” states Cora Causey, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education in the UAB School of Education's Department of Curriculum and Instruction. “Research demonstrates interns are strongly influenced by cooperating teachers’ practices. When teachers with aligned philosophies and practices mentor them, they are more likely to apply what they learn in a university setting.”

This summer, a total of 16 teacher candidates successfully completed fieldwork, collaborating with two prominent community partners, Harris Early Learning Center, and Avondale Samaritan Place.

At Harris Early Learning Center, students worked with cooperating teachers in classrooms ranging with young children from birth to five years old. These settings offered unique insights for our early childhood and elementary education majors to see firsthand what children need during the earliest developmental stages of learning.

“I had a wonderful experience working with and teaching 20-24-month-old children at Harris Early Learning Center,” states Chandler Raybon, an Early Childhood Education major at UAB. “My cooperating teachers were phenomenal. From day one, they were welcoming and supportive, answering all my questions and providing knowledge and support when needed. The 20–24-month age group is my favorite age to work with because you see so much developmental growth and change. Children in that age range are like little sponges with their learning.”

 At the Avondale Samaritan Place, teacher candidates participated in the Use Your Noodle summer camp hosted by ASP, which empowers children to develop a love for learning through asking questions and solving problems using literacy, numeracy, and play. Teacher candidates who completed their fieldwork at ASP worked with children ranging from 5-8-years-old.

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“My cooperating teacher was an amazing and fun person,” stated Jerika Bell an Early Childhood Education  major. “She was so supportive and boosted my confidence when I needed it the most. She made the experience an even bigger blessing. I am very thankful to have worked with her.”

Like with any career, it’s always good to have more experience before you jump into the real deal, thus why fieldwork and field experiences play an essential role in the curriculum here at UAB School of Education.

“My advice for future fieldwork interns is to be brave to step outside your comfort zone. Communicating proactively with your peers and instructors will benefit you if you have questions, need clarity, or need a listening ear. Just remember, many are cheering for you, and you will do great things! – Chandler Raybon

“Being nervous is normal. This experience is made to give us the confidence we need to go out and do what we love the most. Use this opportunity to meet great people and mentors who can guide your journey. Everyone has their own way of doing things, so don't get discouraged along the way. This experience will help you find your footing and mold you into the best educator you can be. Most importantly, enjoy the journey!” – Jerika Bell

Learn more about the teacher education programs at UAB by clicking here.