By Erin E. Harrel, Ph.D.
Dean, School of Education at Edison State College
and Joyce Rollins, Professor, Education M.A., Mary Robertson, Professor of Mathematics Education,
Anne Angstrom, Ph.D., Professor of Middle Grades Language Arts
Teachers in the world today not only have the responsibility of teaching our children, but they have to be trained to recognize various health and social issues that may be taking place in a student’s life. As adults, we understand ourselves and can monitor our own health, or take steps to correct issues in our lives. Children, however, present a multitude of issues at school as basic as not feeling well, to stress, to food insecurity, and are often unaware of how to seek help. Edison State College’s School of Education offers multiple programs to prepare teachers for Elementary, Middle and Secondary school careers.
In the Elementary Education program, all college students participate in a Health and Recreation course. This course instructs teacher candidates how to look for signs of abuse and depression in students, as well as the proper procedures to follow when they suspect these circumstances. Teacher candidates explore the signs and causes of bullying and prepare themselves to integrate preventative measures and positive citizenship in the curriculum. It also informs future teachers how to incorporate recreation into all subject areas. Working with parents and the community to address issues of food insecurity, proper nutrition, and healthy home habits is often addressed with the elementary teacher candidates to prepare them to become activists within their school community.
All middle school and secondary programs require the teacher candidates to create a lesson plan centered on a social justice issue. This assignment encourages teacher candidates to be aware of the child’s total health and wellbeing as well as instate an awareness of a global society. These critical tasks are designed to inform teacher candidates about the importance of discussing issues relating to social justice and diversity within the classroom. Programs like this reinforce the concept of social justice and make teacher candidates aware of the child’s total health and wellbeing. Teacher candidates also learn ways to write about bullying awareness and prevention by using fiction and non-fiction texts which deal with these issues to launch discussions with students. All of the experiences taught in this course not only cover being aware of health symptoms, but being fully aware of the entire wellbeing of the student with their daily activities at school and at home.
At Edison State College, we feel it is imperative to take our teaching and learning experiences out of the classroom. All teacher candidates are required to complete 30 hours of Service Learning. Through these service opportunities future teachers gain experience in dealing with parents and community members and often have the ability to teach health and wellness outside of the standard curriculum. For example, many teacher candidates participate in the afterschool ArtFest/ESC School of Education Art program. ArtFest Fort Myers supplies all of the art supplies and Edison State College School of Education students fa-cilitate the afterschool program free of charge to elementary school students. This year the program is being offered at two Title I elementary schools. This gives students the opportunity to participate in art activities that are not otherwise offered in the regular school day. This also allows teacher candidates to spend time with the students and get to know their personalities so that throughout the program, they can recognize any changes.
Edison State College – www.edison.edu | 800-749-2322