University of Wisconsin-Superior
Swenson Hall 2024
Belknap and Catlin
P.O. Box 2000
Superior, WI 54880
Monday - Friday 7:45am-4:30pm
News and Events Details
By Joe Stensland
This is my second summer as an English teacher at Lansi-Suomen Opisto (West Finland College) in Huittinen, Finland. This summer I will gain 300 hours of teaching experience and much more.
We teach English in two-week sessions to adolescents from age 9 to 17 years old from the Russian Federation and Eastern Europe. At West Finland College, I've been able to get so much more from this employer on an international basis then I could've ever thought. And this is particularly important for me as a graduate student at UW-Superior in the MSE - Guidance and Counseling program with a focus of School and Community Counseling.
School counselors need to be able to interact with students, teach a lesson, and manage a classroom. However, teaching English alone doesn't go far enough in my opinion.
A professor's advice
One of my professors, Dr. Carol Hulce, recommended that as an aspiring school counselor it's good to get out into the school environment and make yourself known to the students, because you're ultimately there for them.
This is one of the best ways to establish a connection with the students on campus. If you have a relationship with the students and they know who you are, they're more likely trust you so that you can be of assistance to them.
Getting to know students
That's also why I go on field trips the college sponsors. This is a chance get to know more about the students in an atmosphere other than the classroom. During the field trips, students have begun to tell me about their life back home. And sometimes students just want someone to listen to what they have to say.
My mentor, Dr. Terry McGlasson, taught me that each person is precious and unique. He also taught me to express empathy and to care for students, which is exactly what a school counselor should do and is trained to do.
Putting skills to the test
What's more important here is that this is a rare opportunity for international experience to put my skills to the test and see if they really work with people of different cultures. The skills I have learned as an aspiring school counselor really do embody the liberal arts mission of UW-Superior. I can speak Russian with the students and listen to what they have to say and assist them with broadening their English skills at the same time.
Taking UW-Superior courses in Finland
What's more interesting is that while I'm here, I'm also taking classes online through UW-Superior's Distance Learning Center and through Continuing Education. In my Educational Administration course in Diverse School Community Relations, I learn how to communicate within entire school districts and what effective communication really means. This course is helping me to communicate in an efficient and professional way that helps speed along the agendas at meetings and what is expected of us as professionals teaching English.
Moreover, this course helps me understand what is often misunderstood in the hot political climate of today in Wisconsin about the experience of being a school administrator and the responsibilities that go with the job.
Applying coursework to real life
In my Special Education course titled Learners with Exceptionalities, I learn how to differentiate my classroom curriculum for students with exceptionalities (disabilities). This way they can participate in the general education classroom with other students and not feel segregated from the rest of the students during and after class.
While working with my colleagues I also receive questions about how to work with students with exceptionalities in the classroom, which is what a school counselor should be able to do as a member of the working team on a school campus.
Offering a counselor's perspective
I also have the chance to interact with a variety of aspiring special education professionals and teachers through the course online. This allows me to contribute the perspective of a school counselor in training so that we as students all get an idea of where each position and person is coming from, because we all work with each other in a school atmosphere.
These courses in particular have allowed me to bring out the inner potential of myself and the skills I'm being educated to bring into the work place both domestic and internationally. And the reason why I do this is because I truly want to know how to make a difference and do it through bringing my education in to the working world through Academic Service-Learning.
My education is not just for qualifying for a job, but so much more. Self-development is part of the big picture. Education doesn't stop after you graduate; it carries on with all the rights, privileges and responsibilities that go with it bestowed upon you at commencement.
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