Seeking to better serve its students at Hillsdale Preparatory School, Hillsdale College’s Latin Teaching Program is adding more structure and oversight to its classrooms.
Student teachers in the program and preparatory school faculty met for the first time Jan. 26 to discuss new requirements focused on providing student instructors with direction and guidance in their teaching.
“The changes that are coming this semester are the most significant,” said senior Shelby Ripley, the program’s former coordinator. “We now have a great deal of support coming from the school, and they’re thrilled to provide it.”
The Latin Teaching Program enables college students with high school or college Latin experience to volunteer as Latin teachers at the school at 160 W. Mechanic Road. Participants teach at Hillsdale Prep twice a week for one hour.
With 15 volunteers, more student teachers are participating than ever before, Assistant Professor of Classical Studies Laury Ward said. Each classroom will have two student teachers, enabling the teachers to work together and learn from each other, student teacher senior Luke Zahari said.
The program used to leave curriculum and classroom management largely to the discretion of student teachers, but changes are beginning this semester to give the program more structure.
“Last semester, Shelby would assign everyone a class that they would teach, and it was your classroom,” Zahari said. “You determine the curriculum, you decide what you’re going to teach, when you’re giving a quiz, how you’re going to grade it.”
But as student teachers and the school’s faculty discussed at their meeting, the alterations seek to empower student teachers by giving them more support, especially regarding curriculum and classroom management. These include teacher training opportunities, early submission of lesson plans to the school, a business casual dress code, and classroom observations, critiques, and feedback from Hillsdale Prep teachers.
“They gave us an overview of what their school really stresses in its education and gave us their vision for our role at the school,” Ripley said.
The Latin Teaching Program gives Hillsdale Prep students an opportunity to learn Latin, which would be impossible without the college’s student teachers, Ward said.
“It’s providing this huge service to the community,” Ward said. “These are students who would have no Latin, if not for these Hillsdale College students. They don’t have a Latin teacher there. So it was a great program, period, even before we did anything with it.”
The program’s head administrator, junior Brian Hall, however, said he wanted to make it better.
“I’m working with Dr. Ward to improve, first, Hillsdale College’s relationship with HPS and to increase the training and experience of our student teachers, and as we do that, we hope to increase the educational opportunities and the experience of the students at HPS,” Hall said.
The student teachers will also observe their classes, before their first day of teaching, Ward said. During a 10-day orientation period, student teachers meet their students and their Hillsdale Prep teacher and attend formal teacher training.
“There were never any orientation meetings or meetings of all the teachers to discuss…problems that they’ve had,” Ward said. “During teacher training, Brian gave some tips on: ‘If you don’t know what to do, here’s where you can start. Here’s a basic format a Latin class should follow.’ And that’s the kind of structure they just hadn’t had before.”
Latin Teaching Program leaders said they hope to establish a consistent and formal curriculum over the next few semesters, explaining what students should be learning at each grade level.
“The most challenging thing is working to get a stable curriculum for our student teachers that they like and that’s within our budget,” Hall said.
Classroom management has been the most difficult part of teaching Latin, Ripley said. Having a contact person at the school to help student teachers stay in control will enable them to run their classrooms with the same discipline as full-time teachers.
“That’s something that was out of our reach before,” Ripley said. “We weren’t sure what we could do, what we couldn’t do, what we could threaten, or how we could reward the students. I’m very excited for better management of the classroom.”
At the meeting, Hillsdale Prep faculty expressed their gratitude for the student teachers’ service.
“We appreciate all of you coming and helping to make our school better,” Craust said. “I really, truly believe that the Latin program does help to make our school better, and the students look forward to it.”
Students with high school or college Latin experience with an interest in the Latin Teaching Program may contact Hall at email@example.com for more information.