A classroom partnership

CSB/SJU partners with St. Joseph school to use classroom for teacher development

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October 16, 2015

By Mike Killen

A unique partnership between the Education Department at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University and Kennedy Community School in St. Joseph, Minnesota, is helping transform college students to professional teachers.

But it isn't the partnership you might think it is.

CSB/SJU sends roughly 75 students into student teaching roles during their senior year.

But thanks to a new agreement, CSB/SJU students have their own classroom to use in a variety of ways at Kennedy.

"We're using the classroom in several pedagogy courses," said Janet Grochowski, professor of education and chair of the department at CSB/SJU.

"The purpose (of the classroom) is that we're getting students to transform from the college student perspective to the professional educator perspective," said Brian Mumma, director of teacher education at CSB/SJU who helped set the project up.

Call the classroom a mini laboratory for the students, who set up the classroom from a blank palate. They decided what they wanted in the classroom, bought supplies and made changes on the fly.

"Those were all their decisions," Mumma said. "They are going through the skills that they will be engaged with when they get their first classroom in August of next year."

CSB/SJU faculty members are also planning to use the room. For instance, Catherine Bohn-Gettler, associate professor of education at CSB/SJU, took an educational psychology class to the classroom. She reviewed information in the classroom, then sent the students out into the school to observe teachers using psychology in the classrooms.

It allows the student to move from a "theoretical framework" of a college classroom to the "conceptual lens" of teaching, Mumma said.

The partnership is coordinated by Mumma and Mark Mortrude, education adviser and community liaison.

View a video of 22 CSB/SJU students from Diana Fenton's science pedagogy course setting up the classroom: