To help combat the shortage of teachers in southwestern Wisconsin, especially in rural communities, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville’s School of Education has begun offering a dual credit course option for high school students.
This spring, twelve Platteville High School students enrolled in the dual credit course, Introduction to Education, taught by Dr. Jennifer Collins, assistant director of the School of Education at UW-Platteville. Collins will serve in this position until July 1, when she will become director of the School of Education.
In the course, students are exploring what it means to be a teacher, beginning the development of their professional identity as well as gaining hands-on experience in lesson planning and design. Upon completion of the course, students will earn two credits.
“Our goal is to build a pipeline for high school students interested in joining the teaching profession by providing them with college level coursework while still in high school,” said Collins. “This shortage won’t be solved solely at the university level, so the collaboration with our area high schools and CESA 3 is vitally important.” CESA 3 is a state agency that provides professional development and other support services to meet the unique needs of schools and children in southwestern Wisconsin.
“The Introduction to Education course provides students with the chance to work with someone who is excited about students getting involved in the teaching profession, gives them an overview about what teacher training is and exposes them to teachers all over the district in a way they haven’t experienced before – and they get college credit for it,” said Tim Engh, principal of Platteville High School. “It is truly an introduction to the teaching profession and the student feedback has been extremely positive.”
Anna Gates, a junior at Platteville High School who plans to study elementary education after she graduates, said Collins’ Introduction to Education class has been one of the best classes she has taken throughout high school.
“It is a great experience to be able to learn about the behind-the-scenes aspects of teaching, and what it takes to make a great educator,” said Gates. “In addition to the academic portion of the class, Dr. Collins makes this class amazing with her energetic and positive personality. I look forward to learning with her every day.”
Because of its success thus far, the course will be streamed this fall to schools served by CESA 3. This will give high school students from 31 small, rural districts the opportunity to take the course, if they are interested. Students who complete the course will earn two credits.
“This is a real benefit for all students involved,” said Jessica Brogley, pre-student teaching and educational technology instructor at UW-Platteville and instructional technology and digital communication specialist at Platteville School District. “Not only are they exploring a potential career early, they’re getting a jumpstart on their undergraduate studies. I’m glad to see this partnership happen.”