Education students gain experience in classrooms

November 30 2007

ROSEDALE • “Eyes up here,” Brittany Lake directed the fourth-grade Rosedale students before she launched into a social studies lesson.

As the Indiana State University senior from Delphi took the students across Indiana in discussions of the most recent ice age’s impact upon Indiana’s land, she was just adding another hour of experience to her classroom tally.

So were Cari Dorsett, a junior from Bedford, and Madison Hayne, a junior from Terre Haute, as they walked the classroom helping students color and correctly label their Indiana state maps during the lesson.

“I feel like I have a heads up on other teaching majors. Instead of learning from our books, we’re actually in the classroom doing it,” Lake said after finishing her lesson. “A lot of my other friends that are going for elementary education are going to different universities. They have not even been in the field yet.”

Dorsett said the in-depth experience allows the ISU students to know if that career is for them. She previously earned a degree in the medical field from Ivy Tech, but found out she didn’t enjoy it when she entered that field.

“Once you decide that’s what you’re going to do, you’re going to put all your work into that from day one and know that that’s what you’re going to be doing for the next four years,” Dorsett said about ISU’s program. “If you change your mind, you haven’t spent a lot of time on something that you’re not going to love. You have to love it to be able to do it.”

Hayne said the many hours of classroom experience is what drew her to ISU’s program.

“You’re not a new teacher with zero years of experience,” she said. “You’ve had experience through the program, being in different classrooms, different grades. It helps you make a well-informed decision of what grade level you feel most comfortable in, because of the wide variety of experiences that we receive.”

Which is the point, according to Kevin Bolinger, ISU associate professor of education. He likened it to working on a car.

“You wouldn’t want to teach somebody how to work on a car just by reading a textbook about working on a car,” he said. “You’d expect that when you go to that mechanic he has some ability and some training in actually taking apart and repairing automobiles. I think that expectation is to be made of teachers as well. You need to have those experiences, a wide range of experiences.”

That dedication to experience is why education is a program of national distinction as part of a plan to raise Indiana State to a high level of prominence in the state, Midwest region and nation. The plan is partially funded by a gift from the Lilly Endowment Initiative to Recruit and Retain Intellectual Capital for Indiana Higher Education Institutions.

Beginning their sophomore years, students leave the university hallways for those in urban and rural schools. Before they begin their semester of student teaching, they’ll already have several hundred hours of classroom experience.

Each of the future teachers said they have learned through their experiences.

“I’ve picked up behavior management skills,” Lake said. “You see how the teachers interact with the kids and what works for what kids and what doesn’t for some of them. It’s just a really good learning experience. You can see how it all works together instead of just hearing it in the books.”

Hayne said she also learned about classroom management skills.

“I’ve been able to see lots of different teachers from rural schools, urban schools,” she said. “I’ve learned that not all classrooms operate the same way and you can’t go in with a specific cutout of your classroom. You have to be able to adjust to your students.”

For Dorsett, learning about interacting with students while teaching was a key component of the classroom experience.

“If you feel that the students are not engaged in what you’re teaching, then for the next time, you know to change something,” she said. “We also learned different types and ways to teach. We practice teaching them in the classroom and it is really beneficial because that way with your diverse learners you cover everything so each different learner can learn.”

That classroom experience makes the students more prepared to enter one, according to Bolinger.

“A lot of other schools have programs where they don’t offer as many practicum hours and teachers just kind of have to learn on the job that first year,” he said. “This really does allow them an opportunity to be more prepared starting from day one.”


Contact Kevin Bolinger, ISU associate professor of education, at 812-237-2884 or

Writer: Jennifer Sicking, assistant director of media relations, Indiana State University, at 812-237-7972 or


Cutline: Brittany Lake, an ISU senior, teaches a Rosedale fourth grade social studies class, while Madison Hayne, an ISU junior from Terre Haute, and Cari Dorsett, an ISU junior from Bedford, assist in the class.

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Story Highlights

Beginning their sophomore years, students leave the university hallways for those in urban and rural schools. Before they begin their semester of student teaching, they'll already have several hundred hours of classroom experience.

Bookmark and Share