Semester in Italy for aspiring teachers at ASU

By

Jennifer Priest Mitchell

A new program to study unique approaches to education in Italy is available to students in Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College this spring. This study abroad option is open to elementary education majors entering terms 5 or 6 and to educational studies majors entering terms 3–8. Students will spend the spring 2017 semester in Reggio Emilia, between Milan and Florence, and can earn up to 18 credits toward the academic requirements of their major.

Through a partnership with the University Studies Abroad Consortium, a nonprofit, university-based organization, they will take classes at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, participate in school visits and volunteer in local schools. The application deadline is July 31, 2016, and qualified applicants are eligible for a grant for full airfare

Alissa Koerner, faculty director for the program, said, “This is very exciting because it is the first time we’ve offered a semester-long study abroad option in our college that meets the requirements of the rigorous iTeachAZ program. The coursework offered in Italy will provide our teacher candidates with an unparalleled experience of learning about the world-famous Reggio philosophy with the city of Reggio Emilia as the background for their study. Classes will be enhanced through site visits to local schools and the Reggio Children facility. Our students will be immersed in Italian culture, history and education.”

Lindsey Moses, assistant professor at Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, said, “The Reggio Emilia approach has grown in worldwide popularity since the early 1990s when Newsweek hailed the city as having the best preschools in the world. Their unique educational philosophy positions children as strong, capable collaborators and communicators.”

Katie Bernstein, also an assistant professor, added, “In the Reggio Emilia setting, teachers and parents learn to carefully observe children and guide their learning. Educators research and document children’s experiences to reflect on and refine their own teaching.” She said that ASU students will return from the experience with more broad perspectives on classroom learning and on meeting the educational needs of children from diverse backgrounds.

Students will begin the semester by taking an intensive six-week Italian language course where they will develop speaking, reading and writing skills through rapid immersion into the culture. They will complete university classes taught in English on multicultural education issues and comparative education. They will have internships for several hours a week in local schools to practice their teaching skills. Opportunities for field studies in Ravenna, Mantua and other cities and regions of Italy will be available for an additional fee. 

“I know our teacher candidates are thrilled to be able to participate in this educational opportunity. This study abroad option allows students to experience education in another culture while staying on track to graduate,” said Suzann Lebda, academic success specialist with Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. “It is an amazing opportunity for students and will enhance and expand their teaching abilities.”