Professor Stephanie Mahfood
This past Thursday, 19 MAT teacher candidates attended their first CMAT 5000 class. “Teaching in a Diverse Society” is one of the first courses that graduate students pursuing teacher certification take. Supported by grant funds from Boeing, this course was recently given a radical redesign to embed an early 30-hour field experience at The Soulard School — an independent, urban elementary school located in the historic Soulard neighborhood.
Candidates in CMAT 5000 engage in a semester-long hybrid course. They often meet on site at The Soulard School but they also engage in online modules when not meeting face-to-face.
Professor Basiyr Rodney
Professor Paula Witkowski
This course is not only co-taught by three Webster professors — me (Dr. Stephanie Mahfood) and Drs. Basiyr Rodney, and Paula Witkowski — but also several Soulard School teachers and administrators. They work side-by-side with Webster faculty to provide candidates with an introduction to the teaching field and multiple opportunities to talk with and observe master teachers at work.
Executive Director and Co-founder Sarah Christman gives CMAT 5000 students a tour on their first evening of class.
This past week, Webster candidates were introduced to the Soulard School community and collected artifacts via Samsung Galaxy tablets as they toured the school and talked with administrators. Candidates also met CMAT 5000 “alumni” who completed the course in the spring to get some helpful advice on surviving and thriving in the course.
CMAT 5000 “alumni” Dave Stefacek and Abigail Allred share insights and strategies for success on the first night of class.
Over the course of the semester, Webster candidates will work on a number of projects, including collaborative work with their peers to design and implement Curricular Extension Projects with Soulard School students.
I will be providing updates for the blog as the semester continues, and it will be exciting to see how these candidates progress!
Yin Lam (Nicole) Lee-Johnson
Yin Lam (Nicole) Lee-Johnson was recently published in the peer-reviewed International Christian Community for Teacher Education (ICCTE) journal with an article titled “The Troubled Sense of Otherness among Christian and Non-Christian ESL Freshmen at a Christian College in the Midwest.” The article, which can be found in full on the ICCTE website, “provides recommendations to educators and administrators in higher education for advising international students and providing services to them,” and “highlights the importance of having a deeper understanding of the plights experienced by non-Christian ESL freshmen at Christian colleges in the USA.”
More information about Dr. Lee-Johnson, an Assistant Professor of TESL in the Department of Communication Arts, Reading, and Early Childhood, can be found on Webster’s website.
It has always been my personal mission to create a classroom that encompasses clear routines and procedures while emphasizing independence. Yes, I am making that happen in a special education setting. The beginning of the year sets the tone for your classroom climate. What are your expectations? How do you want students to transition from one task to the next? How will their behavior be reinforced? This can all be accomplished while simultaneously teaching students to self-monitor.
I spend the first week or so establishing our rules and routines. The rules are posted in the front of the room in clear, student friendly, positive statements. I am a behaviorist. Positive reinforcement is my only plan of action. When my students follow our expected behaviors or rules, they earn “bucks”. Each rule is worth a buck.
At the end of class, students open their data binder to find a check-out sheet. The sheet provides them with the metacognitive process needed to determine if they demonstrated those expected behaviors. The sheets are kept in plastic sleeves, and students use dry-erase markers to answer yes or no to each question. I often use this as an opportunity to explain that I disagree with their evaluation and provide them with the payment. In time, students become more self aware and honest through their reflections.
I assure you that this has been successful. In fact, our entire sped team has adopted the same process. Our students are thrilled to earn their bucks and watch their wallets grow. We hold “end of season sales” before winter break and at the end of the year. Students who need immediate reinforcement are able to go shopping on Fridays in our store. The others hold out for much bigger treasures during the sale events.
The beginning of the year is also the time I spend in the general education setting supporting teachers and students develop supports. Year after year we find that daily classroom routines like packing up are difficult. We snap pictures of each step and create a step-by-step sheet. This allows adults to refrain from constantly having to verbally prompt and to move to a less intrusive gestural prompt. The sheets are eventually faded to promote generalization.
If you are frustrated with current student performance of daily classroom procedures or routines, consider providing a visual check list, picture prompts, or even video. How can you remove yourself as the executive function conductor?
Stay tuned for my next post about setting up student data binders to keep us ALL on track!
Stacey Elster, M.A.T. special education
Read more about Stacey here
– What is your educational/professional background?
I hold three certifications: sped k-12 cross categorical, severe developmental disabilities, and 1-6 gen. ed. I attended Webster for both undergrad and graduate school. I have been an adjunct professor at Webster for four years. I recently began working privately with an agency to provide individuals with autism group social skills instruction.
– Why did you decide to become a teacher?
I was originally interested in physical education since I was most likely not going to be a professional athlete. While taking courses, I was introduced to special education. I was instantly intrigued. I was also told I wouldn’t be able to do it based on my personality. It was game on after that!
– Where and what do you currently teach?
I am a sped teacher for SSD at Highcroft Ridge Elementary in Parkway. I provide academic and social emotional skills instruction to students k-5. I co-teach writing in 5th grade and provide whole class social skills instruction in kindergarten focused on self-regulation and social cognition.
– What was your favorite thing about your program at Webster?
We have a reputation for preparing the most dynamic sped teachers in Saint Louis.
– What is your teaching philosophy?
If you can’t figure out how to teach them, let me. There is a way so long as you are willing to analyze the status quo and engineer a solution. It is my duty to provide the pathway that leads to growth for individuals with disabilities in all realms of their life while ensuring their communities grow in understanding and acceptance.
All Department of Teacher Education Initial Certification students need to attend one of the following sessions to gain important information on program changes:
• Tues., Sept. 8 @ 4:30 p.m.
• Wed., Sept. 9 @ 12 p.m.
• Wed., Sept. 16 @ 9 a.m.
• Wed., Sept. 16 @ 4:30 p.m.
All sessions will be held in the Webster Groves Room on the first floor of Webster Hall.
Light snacks will be provided.
See the flyer here: DTE Info Session
For more info contact Sheila Anglin Jordan: (314) 246-6946 | email@example.com
Good afternoon readers!
Today marks an exciting new chapter for the School of Education with the launch of our new blog, Transformational Teaching. This blog will be a collaborative space where not only important program information will be shared, but also a place for stories and updates from alumni, staff, and faculty about the practice of education and the exciting work they are doing.
We’ll be updating the blog with new postings several times a week, so be sure to bookmark us and check back often. New content will also be linked to from our Facebook page, which you can find by searching for “Webster University School of Education”, so give us a follow in order to keep up to date with all the goings on of the school!
If you have an idea for a story, feel free to email the editor, Graduate Assistant Abigail Allred at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you!