By COE Faculty Cathy Hargrove and Ryan Flessner
Over the past year, we have taught more than 100 Butler students in classes set in the Lab School. These pre-service teachers participated in a block of three courses focusing on early childhood curriculum, literacy and mathematics. Our students have spent additional extensive time actively participating in Lab School classrooms with the children and collaborating with the teachers and staff.
We have found the Lab School deepens our learning in the following ways:
• Building on the experiences of Butler graduates. Due to the Memo of Understanding between the Indianapolis Public Schools and Dr. Ena Shelley, dean of the College of Education, every teacher at the Lab School is a graduate of Butler University. Students often comment on their immediate connection with these teachers who are part of the Butler “family.” Teachers, too, comment that — because of their past experiences in the College of Education — they are committed to the mission of the college and to the success of its graduates.
• Practicum experiences.Practicum experiences are reciprocal relationships. The undergraduates are learning from expert practitioners while also giving back. Students make connections between the theoretical foundations discussed in the university courses and their applications in real classrooms with real children.
• Access to classroom teachers. Our university courses are taught on-site at the Lab School. As we analyze and reflect on the course readings, we have access to classroom teachers who share their expertise and application back to the children with whom they work. This happens in classroom environments down the hall from the Butler classroom.
• Inclusion of ALL in professional development. All those involved with the IPS/Butler University Lab School are engaged in ongoing professional development, whether conducting a research project on a problem of practice, traveling across the country to visit another Reggio-inspired school, or interacting with Louise Cadwell, the premiere American scholar on Reggio-inspired practice, who visited Lab School twice in its first year.
We are truly honored to have been a part of the collection of people who are creating schools as they should be, and we look forward to many more years ahead!