Dean Jerry Thomas and students from the University of Seville
A new international student teacher exchange program offered through UNT's College of Education in collaboration with the University of Seville in Spain aims to help students learn about other cultures -- while giving the future teachers real-life experience in the classroom.
"This is the college's first international student teacher exchange program," says Jerry Thomas, dean of UNT's College of Education. "We hope to continue this program annually with the University of Seville and develop additional opportunities with universities in other countries. Having an international experience is often life-changing for students, and we hope our programs will provide that opportunity."
From February to March of this year, four students from the University of Seville in Spain served as student teachers in three schools in the Denton school district. As part of the exchange program, four UNT students taught English to primary school students in Seville, Spain until early May.
Caroline Harris, a senior studying early childhood education in the College of Education, traveled to Spain to work as a teacher for the exchange program. Harris also is a student teacher at Timberline Elementary School in Grapevine.
"Studying abroad has been something I wanted to do my entire college career," Harris says. "I am just really interested in seeing the culture, and from an educational standpoint comparing and contrasting different instructional strategies and classroom management techniques."
Other UNT students in the College of Education who participated this spring in the exchange program were Sarah Rice, a senior Spanish major; Jake Maddox, a senior English major; and Katia Dossa, a senior majoring in interdisciplinary studies.
"Our students are providing high school students with a live example of how becoming proficient in a second language will enable them to take advantage of international opportunities in their later careers," says Lisbeth Dixon-Krauss, associate dean of teacher education.
For English language learners, the student teachers from Spain provide an example of teachers who were once English language learners themselves, Dixon-Krauss says.
"For all of our students and our teachers in the schools, this exchange provides an opportunity to interact with teachers who grew up and were educated in another culture beyond the U.S," she says.
University of Seville students Guillermo Dominguez and Alejandro Maldonado worked as student teachers at Guyer High School in Denton, and Pedro Martinez worked as a student teacher at Denton High School. Andrea Alejo taught second grade at Hawk Elementary School.
Alejo learned about a new culture and her students asked questions about everything, from how to make paella to how she gets around on foot rather than by car.
"It was so amazing," says Alejo, a senior at the University of Seville. "The kids had fun and they were able to learn about different cultures and geography. It's a good experience for them."
Ellen Rossetti with UNT New Service can be reached at Ellen.Rossetti@unt.edu.