College of Education > News and Publications > News: Jan. - March 2011 > Student Teachers in New Program Praise the Project, Their Experiences

Student Teachers in New Program Praise the Project, Their Experiences

Students in first cohort of an enriching new student teaching program are giving the experience high marks. The Short-Term Overseas Student-Teaching program allows College of Education teacher education students to travel overseas for seven or eight weeks after a shortened ten-week Pennsylvania student-teaching placement.

by David Price (February 2011)

University Park, Pa. -- Students in the first cohort of an enriching new student teaching program are giving the experience high marks. The Short-Term Overseas Student-Teaching Abroad program allows College of Education teacher education students to teach both domestically and internationally during their student teaching semester.

"I loved every second of it," says Abby Rzepnicki, who did her overseas student-teaching in Australia. Tai Steeb, who student-taught in Turkey, adds, "I learned so much more in my two months abroad than I ever expected."

Tai Steeb in front of her school in TurkeyThe program, conducted in partnership with the Foundation for International Education, provides students with unique intercultural teaching and community experiences, giving them a broader understanding of the world in which we live. The first cohort of the program spent the fall semester 2010 in their host countries. Students in the program spend 12 weeks in a Pennsylvania student-teaching placement, then they travel overseas for five-to-seven weeks.

"Going to Istanbul, I had no idea what to expect. In conversations with my PSU student-teaching supervisor, she suggested that I arrive in Istanbul without expectations. I was the first Penn State student to study in Istanbul as a student-teacher, so I had no one to consult on what my experience would be about," says Steeb. "I actually got a lot more out of my experience than I expected."

Rzepnicki says, "I knew (Australia) was going to be an incredible place, and I was not disappointed at all. The program was great, my host-family was fantastic, and I challenged myself every day that I was there."

bradaschia_sml.jpg"The experience broadens our students’ perspectives of the world and makes them better job candidates," notes Leila Bradaschia, director of international programs in the College of Education and coordinator of the program. "School principals are looking at students who have diverse experience, and they want to know that their incoming teachers know what's going on in local schools, and many value the rich experience that student-teaching abroad brings to the classroom."

"My experience will definitely positively impact my career as an educator," Steeb says. "First, I understand what it is like to be in a classroom where you don't really understand anything that is going on because you don't speak the language. I know what it is like to concentrate and really listen to learn."

"I feel that being able to participate in a program like this makes me more of a well-rounded individual and educator," Rzepnicki adds. "I really enjoyed seeing how another school-system operates."

Students prepare for their experiences prior to their teaching semester in a one-credit seminar in which they learn more about their host nation, its education system, and cross-cultural living. They then are placed in public schools in their host nations as student-teachers where they interact with teachers, administrators, children, and community members. Participating students choose from 15 diverse participating countries.

Penn State teaching Abroad Students Go Skydiving in Australia"The impact that these experiences will have on the students will produce a ripple effect on each of their classrooms. Many of them will be traveling abroad for the first time, and they'll be sharing the excitement and knowledge of what they learn overseas with the students in their own classrooms," Bradaschia says. For more information about the program, contact Dr. Leila Bradaschia, director of international programs: lmb36@psu.edu.

"It’s an opportunity of a lifetime and it gives you a wonderful, new, exciting perspective on education. The world is truly at your fingertips!" says Rzepnicki.