The Iowa Department of Education has awarded institutions in Cedar Falls and Sioux Center with grants to implement year-long student teaching programs. The pilot project involves both the University of Northern Iowa and Dordt College. J.D. Cryer is coordinator of elementary education at UNI and the primary investigator on the project. “The hope is just to see how feasible is this process, how effective (it is), and what will we find? That’s what we’re excited about…seeing how this will compare to traditional student teaching,” Cryer said.
The program at UNI will involve 30 students working in schools in the Waterloo, Hudson, and Linn-Mar school districts. Currently, student-teachers at UNI spend eight weeks with a third-grade class and another eight weeks with a sixth-grade class. The pilot project will allow 30 students to be in a classroom for an entire school year. “With this model, (the student-teachers) are in the same classroom the whole time. So, they will get to really understand individual student needs and how to tailor curriculum…to help students achieve,” Cryer said.
Dordt College has received a $310,000 grant. The grant awarded to UNI is just over $500,000. The money will be used to support ongoing research of the program and support the students. “There will be some scholarships for students to offset some of the cost as they won’t be able to work and generate their own income,” Cryer said.
Dordt, which is a private college, will partner on their pilot project with Sioux Center Community Schools, Sioux Center Christian School, and Stepping Stones Preschool.