English Language Arts 28 • Multidisciplinary 30, 34 • Tip 33
Preservice Teachers Tutor K– 12 Students
By Cynthia Vavasseur, Courtney R.
Hebert, and Tobey Naquin
While sitting at a cafe after attending several intrigu- ing sessions at ISTE 2011 in
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, my
graduate student, Tobey Naquin, and
I discussed our biggest concerns back
home in Southern Louisiana, USA.
Naquin, a fifth grade teacher, talked
about her students’ lack of interest in
vocabulary and reading comprehension. My challenge, as a university
professor in the field of educational
technology, was finding meaningful field-based experiences for my
preservice teachers. As we talked, we
began to imagine the possibilities of
our students learning together. That’s
how Colonel Chat, a program matching fifth grade students with student
teachers for online face-to-face tutoring, was born.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF NICHOLLS STATE UNIVERSITY.
Training Opportunities Hard to Find
Field experience for preservice teachers traditionally involves identifying
K– 12 classroom teachers willing to
allow candidates to observe classroom
activity. Such opportunities can be
hard to find, because some teachers regard a student observer as an
intruder in the classroom. That’s one
reason why there aren’t enough classroom observation options available
near our university for preservice students. So occasionally they must travel
great distances for a chance to observe
a short classroom lesson.
Too often, preservice teachers show
up to a classroom only to find that
the students are taking a test, doing
seatwork, or engaging in other forms
of inactive learning. These kinds of
observations hold little value for can-
didates who are looking for model les-
sons to observe.
How It All Began
Our Colonel Chat pilot project began
with 14 third- and fourth-year students
from Nicholls State University (NSU) in
Thibodaux, Louisiana, USA. They were
all majoring in grades 4–8 elementary
education, and each was taking a man-
datory reading methods course.