Education students get taste of teaching during Ash partnership

A group of students from Ash Sixth Grade recently got a taste of college life when they spent half of their day on Nov. 14 at Wayland Baptist University. The culmination of a 10-week partnership, the Wednesday visit introduced the sixth-graders to various disciplines within the university and helped them apply skills they'd learned during the program with Wayland students.

The benefits were mutual. During that ten weeks, Wayland students enrolled in the education course "Principles and Practices in Education" were paired with Ash students as "buddies" who worked together on special lessons designed to build math skills.

The Wayland students would spend part of their class time on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings at Ash, working with students and taking turns leading a particular lesson. At the beginning, students designed games that would help teach math concepts. Then they were paired with Ash teachers to come up with their lesson plans.

On one day, for example, Wayland students Amanda Gonzales and Lydia Martin have the floor, leading a lesson on the metric system. Foregoing the traditional overhead and markers, the pair leads the class through each of the major metric measurements using cut pieces of red string. They then must measure each other's smiles with the appropriate string.

When the bell rings, the Ash students depart for their next class. The Wayland students remain for a time of debriefing with their peers and Dr. Jim Todd, professor of education. In this brief period, students share positive comments about the lesson with Martin and Gonzales.

The end result, Todd said, is improved scores for the sixth-graders and a different perspective on creative teaching for the WBU education students.

"One of the focuses in this class is that teaching is a relationship, not a theoretical construct but a reality. When we pair the kids at Ash with students at Wayland it gives them extra help and attention to improve their TAAS scores," he said. "I can stand up and talk about innovative ways to teach, but the best way is to do it themselves."

The Ash Math partnership is in its 10th semester. Originally, the program was developed by Todd and Ash teacher Amy Manchee, and the pair have refined the model into what it now is. He said sixth grade was ideal because of it demonstrates the gamut of developmental levels and represents one of the hardest levels to recruit teachers: middle school. Todd said while the program is fun for students of both age groups, the proof really is in the pudding.

"We've been able to show that the kids' TAAS scores improved," he said. "We've even shown this model at two national conferences."