Studying at Long Beach state to become a teacher is an often challenging process. The program consists of mostly off-campus required activities which provides students with real work experience, but often leaves students confused and distanced from the university, according to students and faculty.
Alejandra Aguilar, ASI co-senator for CED, is a senior in the first year of her urban dual credential program who further explained the credentialing process. According to Aguilar, the multi-subject credential program requires students to learn teaching methods and compose lesson plans during their first semester, and begin teaching in a classroom setting in the following semester.
“For me I do a whole year of methods courses as well as a whole year of student teaching,” Aguilar said.
Aguilar is applying for the urban dual credential program, which shares a few differences from the multi-subject program. The dual credential program provides students with multi subject credentials along with credentials required to teach special education.
She works with her teacher all day, while learning and progressing through her program.
“Tuesdays and Thursdays we have classes and methods courses at school in Garden Grove,” she said. “So we get to know our mentor teachers and then we go to our methods courses together and then going back into our classes and teaching these lessons, so it’s immediate application.”
She loves her student teaching and speaks very highly of it, but the credentialing process comes with many difficulties.
“Depression hits a lot of our students,” Aguilar said. “When you’re writing lesson plans for other people, it’s so stressful and there’s no one to talk to.”
Aguilar said she believes that keeping graduate students involved with on-campus programs and resources is extremely important. She says the problem is that most of the college’s students are off-campus, and most of them don’t even buy parking passes.
Doing a credential program and starting an undergraduate program are two totally different routes to follow, according to Aguilar.
“The disconnect is huge,” she said. “When you’re in a credential program, you’re technically not an undergrad. So you’re not in 100 level courses, you’re in these upper division classes while doing clinical practice. And this clinical practice in a college level course with a professor, you have to work with kids at a school.”
Aguilar claims that the sentiment of the rest of the college is that there should be a more supportive base for CED graduate and undergrad students.
“When you’re in these classes you don’t really get to know anyone,” she said. “That’s the hardest part, because you’re going through so much, and it’s stressful, and you have no one to vent to. There isn’t a platform for that.”
College of Education members agree this issue needs to be solved, and they have already begun taking steps toward a better community on campus.
“We did pizza with the dean, and by changing to a later time and seeing people actually show up just showed us we were on the right path. Keep going on that path and I feel like eventually we’ll get more participation from the grad students and help them feel like we’re a community,” ASI co-senator of Education Frances Canales said.
According to Aleah Garnica, lead adviser at the college, faculty agrees with this sentiment as well.
“Our department chair has been working really hard especially through events,” Garnica said. “Over last few years we’ve done a few new things like the back to school event, the ED week thing, and we’ve tried to add more info sessions to try and catch more people. I know our dean and department chair want to continue to try and have a community.”
The College of Education also sees use of the internet and social media as the future support system for their students.
“Me and Alejandra have been working on how to use social media and the internet to provide information and community with the CED,” Canales said. “Whether it be Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, we need to have a virtual place for these students to access each other and know that these resources exist on campus.”