Gordon College Receives A+ Rating in Teacher Reading Instruction
Gordon College’s undergraduate elementary teacher preparation program has been named one of the top in the country by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ).
Gordon College is one of only 15 undergraduate elementary programs (out of 1,500 nationwide) that earns an A+ due to exemplary coursework and serves as a model of excellence for others. These top-performing programs provide the following for each of the five essential components of reading:
The latest findings are a positive sign for newly energized movement across the nation to bring down notoriously high rates of illiteracy in the United States. Each year, well over a million public school students arriving in the fourth grade are added to the nation’s ranks of non-readers. Two-thirds are black and Hispanic children struggling in the face of an inequitable education system. Reading ability is a key predictor of future educational gains and life success, making successful reading instruction essential to achieving educational equity.
Erin Smith ’19 (Elementary Education and Linguistics)
Life skills teacher, WellSpring
Greetings from Ras al Khaimah!
As many of you brace for winter and snow in the coming days, I am pleased to be writing to you on my first ever ‘rain day’ here in the desert. The dust has settled, winter has set in, and my weather app reads a mild 80 degrees. I am not mad about it, one bit!
After graduating from Gordon this past May, I packed up my bags and moved to the United Arab Emirates, where I am working as a Life Skills teacher at the Wellspring School. This self-contained Life Skills program is the only one of its kind in Ras al Khaimah, and a rare find in many international schools. It is with an extremely grateful heart that I have the opportunity to love on, serve, and advocate for my students with disabilities through education.
In my classroom, you will find visual schedules and sensory bins. But you will also find my students participating in many of the same activities done in a mainstream classroom: morning meeting, reading, writing, math, music, art, and gym. Whether it is learning to count to 10, requesting to use the bathroom, engaging with their peers, or learning to add double digits, every step, big or small, is a victory, and it gives me great joy to have a front-row seat to these milestones!
However, I would be remiss if I did not mention the challenges that come with working as a special educator in a context where there is no framework for special education. With no support therapies, limited access to adaptive materials and assistive technology, and often times improper or no diagnoses at all, it can feel like we are fighting a steep uphill battle.
With that being said, I am so thankful for the way Gordon’s education department prepared me for this position. I would not be here if it were not for the wealth of knowledge I received from Dr. Eichhorn or my Supervising Practitioner at the Kevin O’Grady School, where I learned so much about adapting materials, managing challenging behaviors, and setting up students for success.
To the teacher on the mountaintop, I celebrate with you. You are changing lives! And to the teacher in the trenches, I empathize with you. Hold on tight to your victories! You, too, are changing lives.
What is a Paradigm?
When driving somewhere new, we enjoy the convenience of GPS. When navigating college coursework, a paradigm provides direction and convenience. First semester freshmen work with their adviser to design their personal paradigm that outlines a semester by semester plan for completing 120 credits for graduation. A paradigm is personal because it takes into consideration a student’s hopes and dreams for college experience as well as credits brought to Gordon. These credits may transfer via AP courses, dual enrollment, and international baccalaureate programs. The paradigm outlines which courses are taken each semester. Options such as study abroad, athletics, and adding a second major or minor are figured into the paradigm design. Plans may change and the convenient click and drag format allows easy adjustments. The one page both sides paradigm is mutually maintained by the student and adviser.
Upperclassman affectionately reflect on the value of a paradigm.
Emily Colley: “Having a personal paradigm has helped put my college career into perspective; it's given me a sense of accomplishment as I look back at what I've already completed and excitement when I see what I'm going to achieve next.”
From Bethany Fix: “A personal paradigm has helped me organize how I can tangibly reach my goal of becoming a teacher. It has allowed me to take control of my education so that I can fully understand where I am going and how to get there.”
Want a head start designing your paradigm? Freshman advisor Julia D’Onofrio is available to build paradigms for the Class of 2024 future teachers. Get your GPS set for Gordon’s School of Education now. Reach out to Professor D’Onofrio at Julia.firstname.lastname@example.org.
P.S. Have you heard we have a learning tool gift for you? If not, contact us.
Anne Lemmer '20, Secondary Education and Mathematics
Discovering Math in Budapest
In the spring semester of 2019, one of our now senior Secondary Education—Math majors, Anne Lemmer ’20, participated in the Budapest Semesters in Mathematics Education (BSME), where she dove headfirst into a culture and a country that is well known for their excellence in mathematics and math education.
Anne experienced first-hand, the Hungarian approach to learning and teaching mathematics. In this approach, a strong and explicit emphasis is placed on problem-solving, mathematical creativity, and clear communication of mathematical thinking. Here are some of her many thoughts on her semester abroad:
“If I had to sum up my experience abroad in one word, I would pick felfedezés which translates to ‘discovery.’ While in Hungary, discovery was a big and profound part of each day. My time in the BSME classroom was filled with learning and doing mathematics through discovery and hands-approaches. In addition, through using methods of problem solving and creativity, I got to discover solutions to various complex math problems. Another aspect of my program was discovering the thought-provoking math-education system of Hungary. I was able to observe and even teach various math lessons using the discovery method in the Hungarian schools. In both the learning and the teaching aspects of the program, I was able to see what it means to engage in mathematics and feel the excitement and rush of mathematical discovery.
Discovery was also a part of my days outside of the classroom. My time abroad was filled with discovering new foods, cultures, and running routes around the city, hidden gems and adventures of European travel. I am so grateful for my opportunity to live, learn, and teach abroad in Budapest, Hungary.”
Wes Tenney '20, Secondary Education and Christian Ministries
It was an hour ride on Bus 231 from the Hinnom Valley into downtown Beit Jala. It was early morning, and the journey of crossing the border wall was a daily adventure. But the greetings of the students from the second-story window of my history classroom made it all worth it every time.
“Salaam, Mr. Wes!” yelled Abed, as I strolled past the pick-up trucks and olive trees on the hill up to our school. He and his friends leaned out the window waving, informing the other 10th graders of my arrival. Their hospitality was unmatched. You see, I was both their teacher and their guest here in the outskirts of Bethlehem. I had come to help them learn, and I had come to learn with them.
Teaching in Beit Jala was an amplified educational setting because the differences in background, language, culture, and faith between me, their educator, and my local students were so vast. The differences between our worldviews underscored not only classroom culture, but also my curriculum, content, and instructional strategies. For example, one student, Isra, asked me during a lecture on Medieval Europe, “Why are you calling 800–1400 the Dark Ages, Mr. Wes? We call those years the Golden Age.” I had to pause at his astute question, for in that moment he, the other students, and I were learning something much deeper than the subject matter—our narratives were colliding. In meeting one another in the classroom, we implicitly were learning more about the intertwining of the narrative that binds us together as people.
As teachers, we can often ignore the narratives in our students’ lives as we teach them the stories of a standard or the views of our own experiences. Teaching in Beit Jala reminded me how as I present new narratives for students to learn, I must also receive the narratives they hold dear to their identities. This is what I’m taking with me now as I return to student teach here in MA, and as I meet the stories of even more young people. God amplifies our worldviews through the stories we share and the respect we build for one another.
Grace Elkan '21, Elementary Education, Spanish
Tuesday morning, we had just settled in for some online math work, the classroom teacher was in one room with four of the students and I was in a separate room with the other three. The small classroom sizes allowed for frequent individual attention. As the teaching assistant, I circled around to students and aided them with thought prompting questions when they were stuck. I was comfortable in my role of support.
When the teacher came in to check on everyone’s progress, I asked if there was anything else she needed me to be doing. “Would you find a science lab for next week? The topic is human impact on the environment.”
“Yeah… sure,” I stuttered back, unsure of my qualification in this kind of planning. “Is there anything particular you want, or a certain resource I should use?”
“No, just whatever you find online will be great.”
I was a little daunted by this task. I had never planned a whole science lab and I was overwhelmed by so much freedom. I had to make sure it was appropriate for the students, accessible for struggling learners, and applicable for the curriculum. I sat down at the computer, unsure even of what to search for.
This past summer was my first experience being immersed in a classroom and learning the daily routines of a school. As a teaching assistant, I was asked to find news stories for morning meeting, lead morning yoga, provide one-on-one support for student work, and anything else my classroom teacher needed. Working at Merrimac Heights Academy in Merrimac, MA, I was able to see what a smaller classroom setting looks like. This was an incredible learning experience that stretched me and grew me as a person and as a teacher.
“Science-lab-human-impact-elementary.” I didn’t exactly know what I was looking for, a video, a worksheet, a story? I had planned a few literacy centers during my classes at Gordon, but I felt like I had been thrown into the deep end. Once I accepted that I was going to be able to do this, I started finding activity ideas from different science organizations and even other teachers. I had found an incredible community of people sharing ideas and activities. I came upon an activity that seemed to fit the few parameters I had been given. I showed it to the teacher.
“Great! Do it!”
Then the fun began. I followed the instructions to set up a lab where students would get to visualize the toxic impact of humans on our precious oceans. I carefully filled beakers with dental floss to represent fishing nets, soil to represent sewage, cooking oil to represent oil spills, etc. Then while the teacher read a story recounting the past few thousand years, the students added their twenty-one beakers to a large clear bin of water to observe the pollution. It was a lightbulb moment for some students as they observed the change in the water and made connections between our actions and the very real consequences for our oceans.
I am so blessed to have been given this opportunity to participate in such an incredible school. I was pushed and challenged in so many ways and learned many things that I hope to apply to my future classrooms one day.
Sarah Berry '21, Elementary Education, Mathematics
This summer I went on a mission trip to Jamaica for three weeks. We went to The Caribbean Christian Center for the Deaf in Kingston, Jamaica. It is a school for deaf students. While I was in Jamaica, I learned a lot about two different cultures. I learned about the Jamaican culture and the deaf community in Jamaica. All of the people that I came in contact with were so nice and encouraged us during our time there. All of the students were so welcoming and wanted to get to know us and teach us new words and help us with our sign language.
My mission trip was not about building houses or other physical buildings. This trip was about relationships and connecting with these people and creating this connection with them. We had the unique opportunity to be in the deaf community because they are very skeptical of hearing people. They are afraid of past experiences that they have had with hearing people, so they tend to not interact with them. We were there to push down that barrier and see how they live and what we can do to help them. The students in that school did not think that they were lacking anything, they were around their peers that were also deaf so there was no barrier between them. They were so full of life and there was so much joy in their school. While we were there, they were in a drought that had lasted a couple of months. When we were there it rained almost every day. I never knew how much joy turning on the city water would bring. The people around us were yelling and were so joyful when they saw that the water was running. They have their own company called Deaf Can!: a coffee company that helps them get jobs after they leave the school. They have partnerships at coffee shops on the island that are used to give their graduates jobs. It was a great experience and there is so much more to say about it and the more that I reflect on my time there the more I discover about what I have learned.
Vanessa Sylvestre '20 Elementary Education, Linguistics
"Language imparts identity, meaning and perspective to our human community" —Mary Pipher
When all your life you held, or even internalized the belief that your language is inferior, the fact is, it will be hard to strip away this belief. The primary reason is that you are your BIGGEST enemy. You might have been taught all these misconceptions about your language, but now you are no longer a student since they have become part of you, your identity. As the new teacher, you are ready to continue the cycle of self-hate by teaching others the same misconceptions that have now become your truth.
The above paragraph summarizes the struggle that was raging inside of me about my identity. It has to do with language. The tool that human beings use to communicate. So, that was the issue that I ended up spending time, in fact a whole semester, researching and writing a paper on. If Haitian Creole, my native language was really inferior as my 5th grade teacher in Haiti taught me, then I should be able to prove it using Linguistics. I went on this journey with my Linguistics advisor Amanda Swenson. Together we came up with some of the beliefs that I held about my language. Then, we dug deep into the structure of the language, considering its uniqueness while comparing it to other languages.
My findings were very surprising to me and to many other Haitian speakers that I spoke to. I learned that although Haitian Creole did not match the syntactic and morphological structure of many Western languages, it has its own RULES. My language was not random or broken.
Although I have never studied my own language within a formal educational setting, through writing this research paper, I was able to come up with some grammatical rules that Haitian Creole follows.
Finally and most importantly, Haitian Creole should and must be used in the education system to support Haitian speakers. Learning in your first language will always cater more comprehension and academic achievement. This is now my new mindset and I cannot wait to implement it in my teaching career.
On March 7, Dr. Mindy Eichhorn presented her research at the Comparative and International Education annual conference in Atlanta, GA.
Her paper was titled, "When the fractional cookie begins to crumble: The fifth grade fraction slump in Indian classrooms." She will also present a poster of this research at the Council for Exceptional Children conference on April 22nd in Boston.
The picture above is from the conference (CIES) in Atlanta. It captures a group of people from the Global Mathematics Special Interest Group who were also in the panel: Global Mathematics Education SIG Highlighted Session: Students’ Viewpoints in Mathematics.
Education faculty were well represented at the 2017 Association of Teacher Educators annual conference in Orlando, FL.
Dr. Janet Arndt presented a paper entitled, “Innovation in Teacher Preparation: Preparing Pre-service Teachers for Engagement with Families and Communities."
Dr. Ellen Ballock participated in the Clinical Fellows Symposium.
Dr. Priscilla Nelson delivered a paper entitled, “Assessment: Placement within a Course Yields Deeper Connections for Pre-service Teachers."
A question often posed to education faculty is, how do I know if I’m called to teach?
Having accepted God’s primary call, one is presented with the secondary call—God’s call to use one’s gifting in service to others to His glory. It is here, in the examination of the secondary call, where we find the essence of the question, how do I know? We are told that God gives us the desires of our heart, or rather, that He places His desires for us within us (Psalm 37:4). We can reason, then, that a calling is born out of a desire; a desire to pastor, a desire to evangelize, a desire to sing, a desire to teach, etc.
But pure desire alone is not enough. To effectively be considered a call, that desire must be coupled with a passion for all of the associated aspects of the work of that desire. For teaching that means a foundational passion for the students, certainly, but also much more. A call to teach is accompanied by passionate desire to learn about teaching; the characteristics of effective teaching, current research on instructional best-practices, on human development, and on human learning.
Lastly, it’s important to realize that a call to teach and the accompanying gifting of teaching does not by itself mean that one is ready to teach. As with any artist, musician, or one in any ministry, the answer of the call begins with much planning and preparation and practice. Therefore, a part of the calling is the inborn desire and passion for learning how—in this case, learning how to teach.
So, how do you know if you’re truly called? Ask yourself, do you desire the daily aspects of the work of teaching? Do you enjoy learning about teaching and learning, and do you enjoy practicing the skills and abilities that you are developing? Do you anxiously look forward to being a part of the profession and collaborating with colleagues in the design and implementation of instruction? Are you excited to discover the many ways in which you can glorify God in your practice and the opportunities you will have to serve students, families, and communities?
Answering yes to the above is a good indicator that God’s call for you to teach resides in your heart.
"A Teacher's Calling" was the theme of the Education Department Convocation on March 24.
Courtney Vitale (ELEM '17) and Mindy Eichhorn spoke in Convocation on January 27, 2017. The title of their lecture was, "The impact of your mathematical identity (as part of the Undergraduate Research convocation)."
Click here to watch this convocation.
See where the Spring 2017 Graduates got jobs after graduation!
Jessie Castelline – Grade 5 at Lane Elementary School in Bedford, MA
Mary Buckley – Grade 5 at Bradford Christian Academy in Bradford, MA
Rachel Therriault – Grade 3, ESL at Oliver Partnership School in Lawrence, MA
Abigail Caron – Grade 2 at North Shore Christian School in Lynn, MA
Kirsten Lick – Grade 5/6 at North Shore Christian School in Beverly, MA
Mandy Patton – Grade 2 and Art at North Shore Christian School in Lynn, MA
Kylie Felix – Grade 3 STEM and social studies teacher at Horace Mann Lab School in Salem, MA.
Adrianna Sturgis-Massa – Grade 3 at Hood School Lynn Public Schools in Lynn, MA
Margaret Wright – Kindergarten at Cornerstone Schools in Washington, D.C.
Rebecca Pasceri – Grade 4 at North Shore Christian School in Lynn, MA
Corrine Previte –Teacher Assistant for grades 1-3 at Harborlight Beverly, MA. She is also coaching cross country and track at Gordon College.
Emma Bartlett – Third Grade Position at Lincoln Elementary Springfield Public Schools in Springfield, MA
Taunya Walther – working in Gordon College Admissions
Christine (Ocasio) Wallace – 1st grade ESL teacher at Oliver Partnership School in Lawrence, MA
Torri Plank – Easter Seals Associate Teacher in NH
Kimmi (Byl) Ware – ESL teacher at Lincoln School Revere Public Schools in Revere, MA
Sara Allen – Kindergarten at Great Oak School in Danvers, MA
Kyla Sandock – K1 co-teacher at Community Day Public Charter School- Prospect in Lawrence, MA
Jasmine O’Bryant – ESL teacher at Hood School in Lynn Public Schools, MA
Cora Whaley – Grade 2 at Christa McAuliffe Elementary School in Woodbridge, VA
Jennie Larson – Christian Education internship at her church
Sarah Faulkner – Enrolled in a Grad school program in higher Ed at Geneva
Asher Gray – Enrolled in a Christian Leadership program at Camp of the Woods in NY state. He is interested in finding a teaching position after December 2017.
Jenna (Bourque) Bancroft – got married and is living in Nashua, NH.