Alternative Field Experience – learning outside the classroom

By: Gerry Rucchin
May 8, 2019

Year Two Teacher Candidate Alison Arn recently completed her Alternative Field Experience at the London Children’s museum.

Year Two Teacher Candidate Alison Arn recently completed her Alternative Field Experience at the London Children’s museum.

Expanding horizons. Challenging perceptions. Teacher Candidates take their education to a new level with the Alternative Field Experience (AFE).

Students have two AFEs in the final year of their program – three weeks in December and they finish their degree with a four week AFE in April.

Alison Arn and Allison Diolanda completed their AFE at the London Children’s Museum.

The museum provides children with hands-on learning experiences through exhibits, collections, programs and day camps.

Both students felt their placement has broadened their perspectives, which will help them in their teaching career.

“As a teacher, flexibility and thinking on your feet are two important attributes that were reinforced during my time at the children’s museum,” said Diolanda. “My experiences allowed me to see things in a different way.”

Dealing with staff, parents and students helped Arn develop her ‘soft’ skills. As an English major, she also increased her knowledge in other subject areas, such as science.

“You don’t have to have all the answers,” said Arn. “For children to learn, it’s about having them wonder and discover.”

Western Education established the AFE to help their Teacher Candidates stand out from the competition. It increases Teacher Candidates’ marketability because they showcase their skills. They also get hands-on experience with job applications because they have to apply to organizations for their placement. Teacher Candidates also develop networking skills and it shows them that education touches many areas, including organizations that aren’t associated with the school system.

As part of their duties, Arn and Diolanda worked in the museum and presented at schools. They also developed lesson plans that museum staff can use for their presentations.

Diolanda believes museums are a critical part of education because field trips help students learn.

“They remember field trips more than the day-to-day lessons,” she said. “You want to make that visit fun and engaging as possible.”

Read more about the Alternative Field Experience.