Professor Nancy Langguth, of the College of Education, has always been close to education and the teaching and learning processes.
“I’ve been in classrooms all but ten years of my life,” she reflects as we sit down to discuss her involvement in October’s TILE Essentials training.
Indeed, Dr. Langguth has a respectable amount of experience in the educative process. First a middle school science teacher, Dr. Langguth went on to receive her MS from Northwest Missouri State, then her PhD from the University of Iowa. Shortly after earning her PhD, she secured a position in the University of Iowa’s College of Education, where she now teaches an orientation to secondary education course for the Teacher Education Program in the College of Education.
“We bring all those experiences with us to our teaching,” she notes, referring to the forces that have shaped her pedagogical decisions.
In fact, Dr. Langguth still remembers her own teacher preparation courses, experiences she brings to bear on her current work with pre-service teachers in the secondary education program.
She pulls out an old file folder to demonstrate: “This is the material from my Middle School Curriculum and Methods course. The syllabus was a page long. Mine is 10.”
This small detail, she notes, illustrates the trajectory of educational change.
“Students now want a syllabus weeks before the course” she explains, “Syllabi now not only outline readings, they respond to expectations and standards. They’re a contract with the student. It’s not good or bad. It’s just change”.
Change is exactly what brought Dr. Langguth to October’s Essentials training. Providing support and instruction to pre-service secondary teachers, Dr. Langguth is always searching for ways to add value to the experiences of her students. She felt transforming the secondary orientation course, which all secondary education majors take regardless of content area, was a perfect opportunity.
“A sense of community, and its importance to learning, comes up again and again in the literature. This environment will give me the opportunity to model how a teacher fosters that sense. If I’m going to talk the talk, I need to walk the walk.”
She also notes how institutional changes like TILE are impacting America’s middle and high schools, and how pre-service teachers may someday shape decisions in their own districts that impact the construction of learning spaces. “Selfishly, I think yes, education majors need to have these experiences [with TILE classrooms].”
Dr. Langguth has long been interested in TILE. However, like many faculty, she had reservations. “I was on the learning curve. I had some reservations about the T [Transform] and the E [Engage] in TILE.” She was concerned that students learning in TILE spaces would miss required content and opportunities for individual work and reflection.
Now, Dr. Langguth feels she can move forward with confidence. “After Essentials, I realized it wasn’t about the content but the method. And the transformation doesn’t have to mean we abandon opportunities for individual work. The room provides affordances, but not a mandate.”
After Essentials, Dr. Langguth also says she feels more comfortable with TILE principles, explaining that the space will provide opportunities for pre-service teachers to interact, share ideas, and support one another through similar struggles and hopes. Rather than abandon individual reflection, she hopes that individual reflection will be enhanced in the community of ideas TILE spaces foster.
“I see TILE as providing affordances for group work and group processing while also retaining what is useful about individual reflection and thought. It’s not a change in content, but an opportunity to capitalize on the space and provide new possibilities.”
Dr. Langguth attributes to Essentials her newly refined views on TILE.
“I appreciated that Essentials presented new ideas while also giving opportunity for deliberate group and individual workshopping. It was great to get away from the everyday demands and really think about my course.”
After leaving Friday’s Essentials, Dr. Langguth moved quickly and secured TILE space for her spring orientation course.
“I know there will be bumps,” she notes, but she feels confident that Student Instructional Technology Assistants (SITAs) and ITS will provide the support to make her experiment a success.
“It will require reworking every class session, put I think it will be worth it, and it will keep me from becoming calcified, too.”