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  • By Alyssa Brennan

CCU education majors want to see improvement in early childhood program

Coastal Carolina University’s Spadoni College of Education offers various programs for students looking to become teachers, and the college is particularly popular amongst the others of the university. According to CCU’s website, there were 1,182 undergraduate and graduate students in the Spadoni College as of Fall 2018.

However, the Fall 2019 semester has had many early childhood majors reconsidering their field of study.

Edward Jadallah, Ph. D., Dean of Education, is passionate about education and ensuring the program is creating the most effective reflective practitioners possible.

“The Spadoni College of Education adheres to the ideal that our educator preparation programs provide learning experiences that reflect a broader purpose of education . . . our college prepares educators who know how to analyze the validity of education reforms in relation to student learning; know how to adapt and implement effective teaching practices to varied learning contexts; and serve as professional advocates for a purpose of education that promotes relevant and meaningful learning,” Jadallah said on the CCU website.

“Students learn early in their career that becoming a highly effective teacher requires a thorough knowledge of the subject matter being taught and the ability to design learning experiences that accommodate a variety of student needs, interests, and abilities.”

The college does supply the skills and experiences Jadallah mentions, as it offers many opportunities for students to get involved in schools early in their four years at CCU. During freshman year, the University 110 class brings future teacher candidates to Marion on shuttles. Based upon the students’ preferred grade of which they would like to teach upon graduation, the students observe classes at the corresponding grade level for approximately an hour, once a week, for a month.

But then, time flies and junior year has arrived. This is when most candidates enter the Professional Program, beginning their internship and taking classes that focus on their major. During this time, professors will go in depth about skills and knowledge needed to become a successful and professional educator. Students will be expected to make connections from their learning in the classroom to their observations in their internships.

In the early childhood education program, internships begin in Head Start programs in Horry and Georgetown counties. While this allows students to get experience in a classroom setting, these programs do not require the certification that those in the program are working to earn. No degree in early childhood education is required to work there. Head Start is also for children from ages 0-5 years old and is much more like babysitting than teaching.

This semester has been stressful for many early childhood majors because expectations have been unclear, and the lack of communication has caused a great deal of confusion and frustration. Most early childhood education majors have also not had many classes centering education while getting our core classes completed which has caused gaps in our learning. Professors in the Professional Program assume that we have already been exposed to things such as lesson planning and state standards. However, for many, it is our first time being exposed to these things.

Many students feel the program has room for improvement, and not only with communication. A big part of what education majors are taught is to create community in the classroom, however, some professors haven’t taken the time to build community in theirs.

“I think the elementary education major is like a family and a community, and early childhood is not. I feel like I’m not really learning anything I don’t already know in the early childhood classes, and I feel like the professors aren’t as compassionate. Many students in the [early childhood] program don’t even want to even teach anymore,” senior early childhood and elementary education double major Destiny Heyward said.

Junior Faith Cannizzo has a similar opinion on the program.

“I feel like when the professionals that were working in the program last year left, they were just quickly replaced and now the program is unorganized. I don’t know when things are due, communication is unclear, and now I’m changing my major,” Cannizzo said.

The program has discouraged students from wanting to pursue a career in early childhood education after a rough introduction to the Professional Program and hope to see improvement next semester.

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