They say you teach the way you have been taught, and for Sophia Sullivan, a recent graduate of the University of Virginia's Curry School of Education, that is a good thing. Because her training required her to study advanced technology and up-to-date research on teaching and learning, Sophia says she was well prepared for her work as a special education teacher. "The things we were learning at the university were readily tied to classroom experiences," she says. "I was prepared for the types of challenges I would face and the children I would see."
Connecting studies to professional work is a major emphasis at Curry, which offers a five-year program leading to a master's degree in teaching and a bachelor's degree in a liberal arts discipline. Students are placed in nearby public schools in their sophomore year, and over the next four years they undertake an increasingly sophisticated succession of field experiences culminating in a semester-long school internship. The program aims to prepare educators to integrate technology with their teaching and be adept at making decisions that affect everything from classroom learning to schoolwide governance.
Technology is an integral part of methods courses and field experiences. Using case studies drawn from World Wide Web sites, for example, small teams of teacher education students from four universities analyze "real-life situations not unlike the ones they will encounter in the teaching world," says Joanne Herbert, an assistant professor at Curry. "We are trying to get them to break away from the methods they saw when they were in school."