Students in Education 1101: Contemporary American Education examine the cultural, social, economic and institutional dilemmas confronting public schools in the United States today. What are the purposes of public education and what makes it “public”? Do schools serve an individual good or a collective good? Is America’s “system” of public education organized to serve these purposes? What is the public’s responsibility toward public education? How do current school reforms affect various stakeholders?
The Field Placement
The purpose of the Education 101 field placement is to help students ground the ideas discussed in class with direct observation in a school. They will be looking at the organizational structures in place and the interactions that take place between teachers, students, and administrators. We ask students to assume the role of a social researcher, noting as much as possible without making assumptions or judgments. For some of our students, this is their first introduction to a public school; for others, it is a great reintroduction to a public school setting.
The Role of the Principal and Teacher in the Field Placement
The placement component is approximately three hours in length. Students are asked to arrive at an appointed time (usually ten minutes before the start of the school day) and report to the principal’s office to introduce themselves and receive their classroom assignments. Principals may assign students to any classroom—it does not matter what grade the student is observing. Many principals are able to spend a few minutes meeting with our students to talk about the school and teaching in general—this is welcomed and appreciated, but not expected. If the principal is not available, another designated administrator or staff member may fulfill this role.
Classroom teachers have no formal responsibility for students observing in their classroom other than to welcome them and provide instruction on where they can observe without disrupting. Our students may leave at an appropriate break time—usually lunchtime or the end of the school day.
If any changes or questions come up, please do not hesitate to be in touch with Laura Sweet, placement coordinator, any time.
The Role of the Student in the Field Placement
Before the placement begins, please be sure that all arrangements are made to allow you to arrive on time, prepared for the assignment. Please dress professionally and appropriately for a school setting. When you arrive at the school, check in with the principal’s office for classroom assignments. Once in the classroom, your role is primarily one of quiet observer, although you may choose to participate if invited by the teacher, provided it does not detract from your ability to complete your observations. You should follow the students wherever they go—this may include art, music, gym, lunch, or recess—often these times provide some of the most rewarding opportunities for observation.
Although you will use pseudonyms for your Day in School essay, please be sure to note the name of the teacher and school, as this information is very important for our placement records.
Within forty-eight hours of your visit, it is appropriate to send a short thank you email to the principal and teacher, thanking them for allowing you to visit their school. We are so fortunate to enjoy the incredible support these local schools provide for us—please help us let them know by expressing your appreciation. Emails can be found on school or district websites. If you have questions, contact Laura Sweet.