Duquin, M. and C. Smitiz. (July, 5-7, 2007). Teacher Education and the Challenge to Care:
Jul 6, 2007
Service learning can teach future teacher two important and vital lessons: first, that relevance of the material for the student is vital for meaningful learning and second, that the mental and physical health of the student is a primary consideration in the project of education. During the 2005-2006 academic year, two classes in the School of Education at the University of Pittsburgh participated in a service learning project at the Roselia Center School for teen mothers. Roselia Center educates teens who have become pregnant and wish to finish school. Roselia helps the girls complete their academics during pregnancy and after they have their child. Many of these teens faced difficult circumstances growing up; broken homes, wards of court, prior problems in school, emotional distress, or abuse. With few places to turn, the Roselia Center School offers these girls support during a very difficult period in their lives. This service learning project allowed School of Education students to cultivate their ability to care, to develop their teaching and communication skills and to broaden their experience with cultural diversity. The project also allowed our students to reach out to a group of teens who are often overlooked within the community, to create a positive learning experience for them and to provide meaningful health and wellness education.
Health methods students taught health workshops on topics related to the personal wellness of mothers and babies. The curriculum was devised cooperatively with the help of the teacher at Roselia Center School and with input from the students as Roselia. Workshop topics included healthy relationships, stress management, alcohol, drugs, and tobacco, nutrition for mother and child, money management, safety and first aid, infant CPR, infant massage, and benefits of physical activity. Each week students were given gifts related to the health workshops. A partial list of gifts included: first aid kits, child safety devises, baby supplies, clothes, and blankets, healthy food and snacks, exercise aids, and children’s books and toys. The health lessons incorporated active learning techniques such as self assessments, games, brainstorming, class discussion, art projects, small group work, demonstrations, and role play. Thirty minute physical education classes were conducted weekly. This encouraged students to incorporate physical activity into their daily lives. Lessons included relaxation techniques, pre and post natal resistance training, Thera-Band exercises, yoga, and dance. In addition to the health education workshops, undergraduate students, spent a total of 184 hours working one on one with Roselia students helping them complete their academic assignments. Tutoring allowed our students to teach the girls individually, tailoring the materials to their abilities.
This service learning project addressed a part of the population that receives little positive support. Teacher education students were able to make connections with this group of teens who may have few healthy role models in their lives. While the workshops helped to prepare the girls to take care of their own health and the health and wellbeing of their babies. The attention our students gave made the girls feel that someone cared about their future and took time to get to know them as individuals. The Service Learning experience also provided an opportunity for our students to become involved in their community. This project gave students a way to branch out beyond their campus and interact with a group of young people with very different backgrounds than their own. Our students were introduced to important community resources for teen mothers, and they were made aware of the need for volunteer work in the community. This project with Roselia school is ongoing and this semester involves three School of Education classes.
The University of Pittsburgh’s School of Education and the Department of Health and Physical Activity won first place at the 501(c)(3) Optimizing Nonprofit Performance Student Service Learning Conference in the Spring of 2006 for their project with Roselia Center School.