Future teachers get look at profession - Brownsville Herald: Local News

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Posted: Tuesday, June 11, 2019 10:15 am

A group of future teachers spent this past week on the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Brownsville campus exploring teaching as a profession at a summer camp called “Those Who Can, Teach!”

The summer camp, now in its fourth year, brings together high school students from across the Valley. Sessions are led by Maria Elena Corbell and her husband Rene, UTRGV faculty in the College of Education and P-16 Integration. Participants included rising high school juniors and seniors and at least one incoming college freshmen.

Throughout the week students worked toward an action research video project that examines the characteristics and best practices of excellent teaching.

On June 3, participants discussed why they want to be a teacher and the characteristics of great teaching. Then each student wrote a letter to their favorite teacher. The next day, in teams, they videotaped each other reading their letters to their teachers, as camp leaders coached them on best practices for both giving and recording video.

“Those are some amazing moments and sometimes they would tear up reading the letters,” Maria Elena Corbell said. “Every day they’re actually collecting data. ... They’re learning the action research process.”

On June 5, students interviewed two teacher of the year honorees, science teacher Omar Lopez from the La Joya school district and physics and environmental systems teacher Arely Torres from the Mercedes school district via video conferencing as part of the project. Each of the 18 students at the camp got too ask a question.

“It’s all student-driven,” Corbell said. “Yesterday they wrote the questions, and today they asked the questions.”

Cristal Cavazos, a 2019 graduate of Los Fresnos High School, said she expects the summer session to prove useful when she begins her studies in the fall at UTRGV-Brownsville for a major in interdisciplinary studies and bilingual education. Cavazos has already served as a second-grade teacher assistant at Palmer Laasko Elementary School in Los Fresnos.

“As time went on, you kind of got a feel for it and a love for teaching,” she said of the experience.

Giovanna Villarreal, a rising senior at Pace Early College High School, said she expects the summer camp to help her next year when she has internships at Ortiz and Garden Park elementary schools.

She also said the answers given by the teachers of the year were inspiring.

Corbell said the teachers of the year are chosen from among honorees at individual campuses around the Valley. Lopez is a student in the master of education in educational technology program in the College of Education at UTRGV.

“This year we know them personally. They’re super stars, so we picked them,” she said. “We know that they are role models and would have a lot to share.”

glong@brownsvilleherald.com

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