International Connections in the Department of Teaching

October 29, 2013

For two decades, the Department of Teaching has maintained an out-of-state and international student teaching center, allowing UNI preservice teachers the opportunity to complete their student teaching in a diverse array of schools across the nation and world. Carrie Elser and Leigh Martin currently coordinate this center and were early pioneers of the program as preservice teachers and subsequently worked as teachers in international schools before coming back to UNI.  This program also extends their services to multiple other US universities, placing approximately twenty student teachers from other universities as well.  On average, the Out-of-State and International Student Teaching center places 60+ student teachers around the globe each semester.

Recently, however, the Department has expanded international connections in other areas. Leigh Martin has collaborated with Tim Gilson in Educational Leadership to create an International MAE program for Teacher-Leaders currently living and teaching overseas. Two cohorts recently started the program.  The first is a site-based cohort at the American School of Bombay in India and the other is global cohort that includes participants from Egypt, Pakistan, UAE, Italy and Nepal. As worldwide interest in this program has spread quickly, Gilson and Martin are also looking to start two more cohorts: an additional, global cohort and another on-site cohort at Korea International School near Seoul, where Martin currently lives and fulfills her UNI student teaching placement responsibilities. “These teachers and their administrators want advanced degrees in teacher leadership and respect the work that this university has done with international schools. This is just another way we are trying to meet their needs and broaden UNI’s overseas reputation,” stated Gilson.

Field Experience Coordinators in the Department have also been collaborating on international initiatives. Shelly Bromwich and Curt Nielsen and their school-based colleagues have coordinated and extended field experience placements for students visiting UNI through the Study Abroad program. Two students from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in South Africa and two students from the University of Newcastle, Australia completed immersive experiences in Lincoln Elementary and Hansen Elementary in Cedar Falls.

Sheri Hoffman, Field Experience Coordinator at Orchard Hill Elementary and her colleagues at Orchard Hill coordinated a visit by Thakur Powdyel, the former Minister of Education of Bhutan on October 24, 2013. The goals of Powdyel's visit included engaging UNI students and faculty in a discussion about education policy and practice, experiencing a leading school of education to  reference in his work around the world, and to engage local educators and alumni in a unique dialog about education. In his visit at Orchard Hill, he observed inservice/preservice co-teaching in action in Joan Hewett's 4th grade classroom and interacted with Orchard Hill students and teachers about Bhutan.

The Department looks forward to assisting with two group visits in the spring related to the UNI Office of International Programs.  In January, a group of undergraduate and graduate Science, Math, Engineering, and Technology (STEM) teaching majors from Kyungpook National University in South Korea will visit a variety of area schools ( to launch a new international, double degree program, followed by a group of teachers from Brazil in February.