Students grow in Trine’s first Living Learning Community

A group of freshmen students in Trine University’s Franks School of Education completed a pilot program this past school year that provided unique experiences to better prepare them to become effective future teachers.

The 10 students were part of Trine’s first Living Learning Community (LLC), which will wrap up with the group attending the 2018 Educators Rising National Conference from June 21-24 in Orlando, Florida.

Anthony Kline, Ph.D., dean of the Franks School of Education, said the experience included weekly meetings as well as activities including: workshops on implicit bias, coaching, strengths and culturally responsive teaching; visits to the Makerspace at Ryan Park Elementary School in Angola and the Timothy L. Johnson Academy in Fort Wayne; and Google Educator training.

“The students played an active role in designing the entire experience, and we met in a classroom within their dorm,” said Kline. “They chose to visit unique schools and bring in experts to better understand their own personality strengths, culturally responsive teaching, and best practice coaching techniques.”

“The Living Learning Community gave us a step up in our path to becoming a teacher,” said Ellie Nichols, an elementary education major from Carrollton, Ohio. “We participated in workshops and started in on school visits earlier than normal. We got the opportunity to learn strengths and weaknesses, along with any biases we had, so we can improve our approach and figure out what works best, to be the best teachers we can be.”

“My most memorable experience from Living Learning Community was assessing and learning about my personality type. It really helped me understand what type of learner I am and how I interact with people who have different personality traits,” said Hannah Nelson, a health and physical education major from Libertyville, Illinois.

The students and Kline also gave Best Teacher I Know presentations, where their favorite teachers traveled to Trine or joined by Skype to share lessons they had learned as educators.

“It was so cool to hear everyone's individual stories and learn what influenced them to go into education,” said Anna Willis, an elementary education/special education major from Homer, Michigan.

Besides the learning experiences, students said they appreciated the opportunity to build relationships with other students and professionals in their field.

“I got to meet people who were in my major, where I will have many classes throughout the rest of my college career, and establish relationships that will help me later when I become a health and physical education teacher and hockey coach,” said Nelson.

“We all are working toward the same goal. We all want to be the best teachers we can be,” said Willis. “The community it built was amazing, I don't think I have ever met such a driven and nice group of people before.”

“I believe this is definitely going to help me with my career. It has opened up my eyes to all the different backgrounds students come from,” she continued. “I want to potentially work at an inner-city school and I feel like listening to everyone's stories about the schools they went to will allow me to find my fit better. I am so grateful for being part of this group. They have made me a better person.”

The university will expand the LLC program to the Allen School of Engineering and Technology, Ketner School of Business, Jannen School of Arts and Sciences and Rinker-Ross School of Health Sciences in the fall.

Photo: Freshman students who participated in Trine University’s first Living Learning Community included, from left: Ellie Nichols, an elementary education major from Carrollton, Ohio; Brookanne Hensley, an elementary education major from Fort Wayne, Indiana; Mariah Lawrence, an elementary education major from Dunkirk, Indiana; Anna Willis, an elementary education/special education major from Homer, Michigan; Alex Sliter, an elementary education major from Bryan, Ohio; Morgan Zelmer, an elementary education/special education major from Niles, Michigan; McKenzie Viers, a science education major from Coatesville, Indiana; and Shae Pettibone, an English Education major from Fort Wayne, Indiana. (Photo by Dean Orewiler)