Watson Chronicle


Student Opportunities and Student News

Elementary MAT Students Participate in Ed Lab Field Experience

Saturday, November 05, 2016

The Betty Holden Stike Education Laboratory located on campus at the Watson College provides an opportunity for future teachers to work one-on-one with children from the community, putting into practice what they have learned in their methods courses. The Ed Lab was created in 1985 to give students the opportunity to work with children in a supervised setting before beginning field experiences in local classrooms.

This fall, for the first time, the Ed Lab experience was offered to students enrolled in WCE’s Master of Arts in Teaching in elementary education.

The MAT is designed for career-changers and students who already hold a bachelor’s degree but have little or no background in education. It’s an intensive 15-month program that offers education foundation and methods courses coupled with field experiences every semester, culminating in a full-time, semester-long internship.

WCE associate professor Brad Walker introduced the practicum experience in the Ed Lab for MAT students in his Advanced Language and Literacy course in fall 2016. Each Thursday evening throughout the semester, students completed one hour of one-on-one tutoring, followed by two hours of classroom course instruction. In addition, the students completed 20 hours of field experiences in local elementary schools in other MAT courses during their first graduate semester.

MAT student John Clark said the Ed Lab experience, combined with observations in area classrooms, was “incredibly helpful.”

Clark came to UNCW with a degree in sport studies from ECU. He had some experience with children as a middle school special needs volunteer and from being a summer intern at the Boys and Girls Club in Raleigh, but no training in the field of education. The prospect of designing lesson plans and teaching a student so early in the program was daunting at first, but soon became second nature, he said.

“The Ed Lab offers every possible resource I could think of,” Clark said. “The faculty walked us through the process of designing lesson plans, provided templates and helped us out along the way. The Ed Lab is a collaborative environment where ideas are shared by faculty, graduate and undergraduate students and children. It was an amazing luxury to have that experience.”

Brian Brinkley, who has served as director of the Ed Lab for 10 years, said he never gets tired of watching students “put their teacher hats on for the very first time.”

“In the Ed Lab, students learn that teaching is about teaching individuals,” Brinkley said. “I agree with associate professor Denise Ousley, whose middle grades MAT students also tutor in the Stike Ed Lab. She tells her students that the Ed Lab experience is important because ‘If you can teach one, you can teach a classroom of ones.’”

In addition to tutoring children in the Ed Lab, WCE’s first year MAT students completed field experiences at Sunset Park and Rocky Point Elementary Schools.

The exposure to different grade levels and different learning environments on and off campus was beneficial, Clark said. When his course requirements were completed Clark returned to Rocky Point to continue shadowing first grade teacher Holly Foster. “The best thing I can do for my future career as a teacher is to get as much experience as I possibly can,” he said.

For more information on WCE’s Education Lab, watch the 30th Anniversary video or visit uncw.edu/ed/edlab.

For information on WCE’s Master of Arts in Teaching in Elementary Education, visit uncw.edu/ed/eemls/elementary/mat.html.