School of Education Uses Mobile Classroom to Connect with Local K-12 Students

Published on

students standing by AQ bus

In the summer of 2016, the Aquinas College School of Education received the generous gift of a Winnebago motor home from the Dominican Sisters of Grand Rapids. Since then, the School of Ed has been using the motor home as a mobile classroom to take students on over 15 different site visits in Grand Rapids-area K-12 schools. 

Using the mobile classroom, education students are able to visit a wide range of economically and racially diverse schools, ranging from Pre-K through high school, both public and parochial. 

“We believe it is critical to breakdown education students’ preconceived ideas about children, schools and teaching in order for these future teachers to be open to new ideas and fully embrace current research-based best practices,” said Susan English, Dean of the School of Education. 

Classes that have used the mobile classroom, affectionately nicknamed “Winnie”, include EN 454/554 Content Area Literacy, EN 408/508 Secondary Methods, EN 322 Emergent Literacy, EN 201/501 Introduction to Education and EN 207/507 Human Growth & Schooling. 

On the way to each visit, while traveling in the Winnebago, students discuss what they might see and are given a list of focused observation questions. Faculty members spend the time encourage the students not to judge or evaluate, but to notice and reflect on what they see. During the return trip to campus, students have time to discuss and share their thoughts and reactions to what they’ve observed. English says this allows the the connection of theory and practice in a powerful way. 

“We hope to use ‘Winnie’ even more in the coming semesters to expand the field experiences of our education students,” English said. “We are working to ensure that our teaching candidates are well-prepared to meet the needs of diverse children with a wide range of learning needs in any type of school setting.” 

children being read to
student working with child