Luther College Chips

Luther education majors student teach abroad

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Jenna Lemieux (‘17) and Mollie Mickelson (‘17) in Singapore.

Jenna Lemieux (‘17) and Mollie Mickelson (‘17) in Singapore.

Photo courtesy of Mollie Mickelson (‘17)

Photo courtesy of Mollie Mickelson (‘17)

Jenna Lemieux (‘17) and Mollie Mickelson (‘17) in Singapore.

Sam Mitchell, Staff Writer

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Four students from Luther College are spending their spring semester student teaching abroad Morgan Mortenson (‘17) and Pyi “Mario” Aung (‘17) are in Australia and Mollie Mickelson (‘17), Jenna Lemieux (‘17), are in Singapore, but they have had similar experiences outside the borders of the U.S.

Students teaching internationally have to apply for the opportunity to complete half of their student teaching abroad. Mortenson is a math major and a 5-12 secondary education minor.

“Unless you plan way in advance, it’s really hard to spend a semester abroad while trying to complete the education program,” Mortenson said. “Luckily, since education requires a whole semester of student teaching anyway, the easiest way to study abroad is to take advantage of the international student teaching opportunities.”

Field Placement Officer Kristin Bigler places all education majors into their student teaching and practicum positions. According to Bigler, some of the challenges that students face abroad include communication issues due to technology and the differences in how schools operate.

After placements have been released Mortenson says that it is up to the students to find housing and transportation to their placement.

“Any student teaching placement far from home is going to require more independence and responsibility than a placement close to home,” Mortenson said.

Mickelson also said that students who are thinking about studying abroad are often discouraged by the fact that there could be major culture shock for the student teacher.

“There is a variety of cultures [present in] Singapore,” Mickelson said. “We are constantly surrounded by other people and hearing multiple languages being spoken at the same time.”

Photo courtesy of Morgan Mortenson (‘17)
Morgan Mortenson (‘17) hikes in Australia.

Mortenson is student teaching at an Australian school which has no language barrier but the multiple languages being spoken on the streets are apparent when she steps out of the school’s doors.

“Australia is actually very similar to America,” Mortenson said. “The hardest thing for me to do was probably getting used to the Aussie slang. It took quite some time to get used to words like ‘bikkie’ (biscuit or cracker) and ‘Macca’s’ (McDonald’s).”

Luther Students are often curious about the differences between student teaching in the U.S. school system and school systems abroad. Lemieux, a K-12 music education major.

“In the international school Mollie and I are at, the class size is much smaller,” Lemieux said “Although the sizes of classes can vary with the country and the city in which you are placed in, diversity within the classroom can be found anywhere.”

Both Lemieux and Mickelson are working with choirs at the Singapore American School though students are not usually placed in the same school or country while student teaching. Lemieux is placed with the middle school choirs and Mickelson with the high school choirs.

“So far it has been very rewarding,” Mickelson said. “I was able to help the choir students prepare their solos and ensemble performances for the Interscholastic Association of Southeast Asian Schools (IASAS) and I am so excited to hear how they do.”

Photo courtesy of Mollie Mickelson (‘17)
Jenna Lemieux (‘17) and Mollie Mickelson (‘17) in Singapore.

Lemeiux’s student teaching experience has already been fulfilling.

“I have been put in the most crazy experiences here,” Lemieux said. “My most cherished moments here are when students leave the classroom singing and happy. I want them to feel that way every time they come to class.”

Mortenson also finds that student teaching abroad is a very rewarding experience.

“My favorite moment of student teaching so far was the first time that I taught my year 10 class,” Mortenson said. “I was administering a test and had just started going through the directions when a student stopped me mid-sentence and asked, ‘Whoa! Do you have an American accent?’ That grabbed everyone’s attention and I was bombarded with questions such as ‘Are the American high schools just like they are in the movies?’ or “What’s it like in America?’”

Mortenson said she has enjoyed traveling around Australia along with her student teaching experiences.

“I’m just really enjoying experiencing the day-to-day life,” Mortenson said. “I see kangaroos almost daily and have gotten to see quokkas, the happiest animals on Earth. I live less than a mile from the Indian Ocean, so I’ve been able to go kayaking and fishing on the ocean, which I would never get to do living in the Midwest.”

Lemieux, Mickelson, and Mortenson agree that student teaching abroad goes far beyond just the learning experience and look forward to continuing to travel abroad.

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