English education students at UD gained valuable teaching experience by leading SAT preparation classes.

Learning by teaching

Future teachers help high school students prepare for SATs


1:45 p.m., May 3, 2013--First-and second-year English education majors at the University of Delaware have gained hands-on teaching experience by helping students at a Wilmington, Del., high school prepare to take the SAT exam this spring.

The 36 UD students, many of them participating in their first teaching practicum experience, taught a free, after-school class at Howard High School of Technology, a vocational-technical school with some 850 students in grades nine through 12. More than 80 Howard students took part in the program, which met in 10 sessions over five weeks and helped prepare them for the verbal portion of the SAT exam.

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"This program gave UD English education majors the opportunity to get to know and to teach a group of amazing high school sophomores and juniors and to experience the energy and satisfaction that comes from helping others master the skills and content knowledge they need in order to reach their goals," said Deborah Bieler, associate professor of English and coordinator of the English Education Program in the College of Arts and Sciences.

The idea for the SAT prep class began when Bieler and Howard principal Stanley Spoor met to discuss ways in which future English teachers at UD could partner with the high school to help both groups of students. Last year, students in Bieler's "Introduction to English Education" course developed a series of lesson plans for in-class SAT preparation, which represented "a significant course project [that] formed the basis for the curriculum we used" in this year's after-school program, she said.

The University students, who offered the preparation sessions in six classrooms hosted by Howard High teachers, were highly professional and at the same time learned a great deal about adjusting their instruction to meet individual student needs, Bieler said. "They also gained valuable experience in collaboration, as they taught in teams," she said.

Her tentative plans are to offer the program again next year and, if possible, to expand it. This year's program was supported by UD's Center for the Study of Diversity, the Department of English and the Office of Service Learning.

English education is one of several secondary teacher education majors offered in the College of Arts and Sciences. Others prepare students to teach foreign languages, mathematics, music, science and social studies.

Article by Ann Manser

Photos by Ambre Alexander

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