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Student Teaching Abroad

Ohio Northern University offers a small number of students the opportunity to complete the capstone student teaching experience at selected sites abroad. The Center for Teacher Education works closely with chosen international schools or through an agreement with the Department of Defense to facilitate these opportunities. The opportunity to student teach abroad is approved through an application process and is dependent upon suitable placements.

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Friendships and Fútbol: Student Teaching in Spain

Kristen DeWees

Class of 2013
BS, Health Education and Physical Education

Seeing the world has always been a dream of mine.  When I found out it was possible for me to study-abroad while completing my student teaching, I was thrilled! Not only would I be able to experience a new culture firsthand as a local, but I would also have the opportunity to work with a diverse population doing what I love—teaching.

Knowing that I would be working in an American school certainly helped ease any jitters that I had. In fact, The American School of Valencia (ASV) quickly became my family while I was abroad.  My mentor teacher, Simone, was an excellent resource both in the classroom and out. He really gave me the opportunity to learn and grow in the classroom, allowing me to experiment with varying teaching methods and ideas.  I was also able to get involved in the after-school programs and help coach the ASV Silverbacks fútbol team.

Outside of the classroom, interacting with locals was an amazing experience. More times than not, they were eager to talk with me and learn about where I came from. One of the things that I observed and appreciated was the patience the locals had with me when I would practice my Spanish.

My time Valencia, Spain, could not have been any better. I left with a greater appreciation for other cultures and a more humbled outlook on the world. The relationships that I formed will continue to grow, and the memories and experiences that I took away from my three months there will continue to shape who I am. And you can guarantee that it won't be my last time there either!

Educating in Estonia

Virginia Harrod

Class of 2010
BM, Music Education and Music Performance

Student teaching is considered the “culminating field experience” for education majors at Ohio Northern University. One ambitious student has chosen to add to the already-challenging experience of student teaching by doing it on the other side of the globe. Virginia Harrod, a senior music education major from Fairfax, Va., travelled to Northern Europe in the fall of 2010 to complete her teaching requirements in Tallinn, Estonia.

Harrod first visited Estonia in 2008, while on a spring break tour with the University Singers. While there, she developed a love for the culture, which is deeply rooted in music. In the early 1990s, a Singing Revolution helped to liberate the country from Soviet rule and the culture continues to enthusiastically celebrate folk and choral music. Harrod is excited by her choice of country. “Where better to go than a place that supports and loves music?” she said.

Estonia is a small country with a population of only 1.34 million, which is less than the population of people living in the metropolitan area of Columbus, Ohio. Despite its tiny size, the country is very independent and relies strongly on its heritage and traditions.

For three months, Harrod will live with an Estonian family and integrate herself within the International School System. She plans to teach general music, children’s choir and a hand bell choir to children from first to twelfth grade. Most kids in the International School System are the children of diplomats, so she will communicate in English, much to her relief.

Harrod will be the first ONU student to teach in Estonia. Nils Riess, the chair of the Department of Communication Arts, was instrumental in developing a relationship between ONU and Estonia. 

The experiences Harrod will gather in Estonia are sure to enrich her life, but she is going there to teach because she knows it will make her a better educator. “I’m just really excited for a different routine and to expand my musical boundaries to help me be a better teacher and person,” she said.

The cold Baltic Sea climate might be a shock for many, but Harrod is ready to face it. “I’ve been told to pack a pair of fur-lined rain boots. And, of course, I already have a pair. Ada prepared me well for that!” she said.


Great Opportunity for Cultural Immersion

Brianna Bizarro, BM  Music Education - Class of 2013


Being able to student teach abroad in a foreign country is an educational thrill.  No matter what subject area you are majoring in, you should consider it.  During my time  at the American School of Valencia (ASV), in Valencia, Spain I was able to connect with a core group of teachers who were wonderful mentors, and eventually great friends.  Although the culture is much different than that in the States, those differences are what makes the experience so unique.  For me, I knew that I wanted an experience that would focus on a multicultural curriculum.  Being able to be immersed in so many cultures in one school provided me with information that I can now utilize in my classroom.  I have learned new teaching techniques, how to teach a traditional Irish jig (the sixth grade class learns this from their teacher who is originally from Ireland), and most importantly how to communicate with a class that is over 90% ESL learners. 
The one aspect that I thoroughly enjoyed was getting to know the students and teachers.  The students at ASV were such a wonderful group.  I had students from Australia, England, Russia, Mexico, France, US, and Spain.  And I have to say, no matter where they were from, they were the most welcoming and well behaved students I have come across.  They absolutely adore teachers and by the time my student teaching experience came to an end, I knew many different parents of students that I had.  The day I left was filled with many hugs, kisses, and tears.  These students will teach you life lessons in ways you will never expect.  

The teachers are the same.  There were teachers from all over the world teaching under the same roof.  It was amazing to see how each country has different learning techniques and how they incorporate them into the classroom.  During your stay, the teachers will become your family.  So much so that many of your out of school experiences will be with them.  Some of mine included: rock climbing at a national park, attending futbol games, learning to make traditional paella (Valencia's rice dish they are famous for), and wine tasting from local vineyards.  One thing to take advantage of is traveling!  While in Spain I was able to travel to 4 beaches on the Mediterranean, Barcelona, and Rome.  
If you are nervous about traveling to a country where you don't know the native language, don't be.  I went to Spain knowing basic Spanish (as in hello, goodbye, my name is, and I'm sorry I don't speak Spanish).  I was amazed at how patient people were with me and how receptive they were to teach me what I was trying to say.  The community embraced me and were so welcoming that I never once felt threatened being overseas.
I cannot say enough great things about student teaching abroad.  It is a once in a lifetime opportunity that everyone should take advantage of.  If it is something you are considering but not sure about it, go for it!  When else are you going to get the opportunity to live in a foreign country for 3 months?