Teaching and learning in the Mills College School of Education extends beyond our classroom walls to the surrounding communities.
In nearly every class, students have opportunities to enrich their understanding of what they learn through field placements. These experiences allow them to apply what they learn to real-world contexts. For instance, in our urban education class, students work in groups to map the educational resources or assets in a several-block area of an urban neighborhood by traveling into the community. Later, they follow the questions generated from this investigation to develop a small-scale research project based on interviewing community members.
Every student in the Early Childhood Education Programs spends at least one semester in a classroom in the Mills College Children's School, our laboratory school. Many classes draw on students' daily observations in these classrooms and the questions that arise from their work. In discussions of how to teach science to preschool children, for instance, the instructor provides slides of four-year-olds from her classroom experimenting with sand and water to illustrate the new science standards. Later, the students continue the discussion through focused observation in a classroom.
For the students in the Educational Leadership Programs who are interested in early childhood, there is an opportunity to participate in year-long field placements. These internships strengthen students' leadership skills and understanding of the complex issues that impact the early childhood field, extending their professional networks. In each of our programs, field placements are individualized to align with students' strengths, interests, and professional goals. These experiences emphasize the connections among theory, research, and practice.
The student-teachers in our Teacher Education Programs spend half of every day in classrooms in Oakland and the surrounding urban communities. Many take on extra responsibilities with children and youth in the classrooms and communities where they teach.