Edstrom is a good lecturer and discussion leader. In class, she will make an effort to foster discussion on topics instead of merely lecturing the entire time. It's also very nice to see her embody the same constructivist and progressive teaching principles she teaches about into her own teaching in this class. For example, she encourages discussions and urges students to create their own meaning from the readings, she integrates mathematics with social justice issues, and she presents ideas through multimedia, such as videos or classroom tools (having us work with tools elementary school students might use in their classes). Unfortunately, I thought the course was quite disorganized. Even though there was a syllabus, we didn't always cover the readings as specified on a certain day. Furthermore, there wasn't much guidance provided for planning the field trip (a major part of the grade), and the time frame was extremely narrow (it's tough to schedule field trips on such short notice, given the partner teachers' schedules). I would've appreciated more time devoted to planning a field trip (not a trivial task) and a clearer roadmap for the course. Also, some of the course tasks seemed quite trivial. For example, we all had to keep journals for our fieldwork observations and for class notes. What was strange is that a good portion of the notebook grade came from decorating your notebook and making it pretty which...was odd. At times I felt like I was actually in a 3rd grade classroom! The fieldwork component is also quite time-consuming (30 hours for the semester for education studies, 40 hours for urban teaching). I really enjoyed my placement, but be sure you have the time for the fieldwork, especially if you are placed in a school far from Columbia.
All Teachers College Columbia pre-service students are required to take the C&T 4000 Disabilities course. I found this to be VERY interesting course, and it's definitely a class that every future educator should take. A typical class consists of a close reading analysis, group presentation, and debate & discussion. I found Dr. Wilson to be very analytical, impartial, and grounded in reality in our class debates. He won't hesitate to question your claims, so be prepared to defend your argument if he confronts you. I also very much like that Dr. Wilson has given us a realistic portrayal of the teaching world. He made it clear that it will be demanding, perhaps even miserable, especially in the first year of teaching. The material covered in this class will definitely make any would-be teacher question his/her/x's initial motives for going into the teaching profession. Despite this, the class had a laid-back feel to it, the professor kept the class grounded and facilitated debates well, and all of my brilliant classmates contributed their own unique perspectives to the class which made for a truly thought-provoking, intellectually pivotal experience.
Pros: This is a very discussion-heavy course. She does a good job of facilitating dialogue and offering challenging questions to the class. Zaidi is very passionate about educational policies, and her passion is shown in class. She has strong opinions on certain policies which might seem overbearing at times. However, she does not shut anyone down or disregard differing opinions. She integrates media well by showing relevant videos and even music Cons: Sometimes, she focuses so much on the presentations and discussions that she does not have time to lecture. There is usually no time for her to lecture, especially when presentations began some time in the middle of the semester. As a result, the readings are not discussed. She does not return assignments and work on a timely basis. This is perhaps my biggest issue, since by the time she returns work, it might be too late to drop the class if need be. You must take individual responsibility for your own work. It's ultimately up to you to submit work on time since she does not offer reminders in class. Also, be sure that you ask her specifically for guidelines on assignments - she doesn't go over that in class either, so some students were unclear on how to do her assignments. *Note: Zaidi is expecting a child, so she probably will not be teaching for the fall semester*
Professor Zaidi is young, passionate, and well-informed, especially on issues of race in education which are essential to an introductory Educational Studies course like this one. She's a pretty radical education activist and runs with that crowd, so if you ask she'll be sure to hook you up with interesting events and forums you can attend to get more involved in radical education reform. She'll also make time to go grab coffee with you and just talk about life, if you're interested, despite a busy schedule that has her teaching at several colleges at once. She knows her stuff and is great if you're interested in just arguing and learning about, well, contemporary issues. Doesn't mean she's a great teacher, though. She's terrible about budgeting classroom time and actually getting through the material on her syllabus, partially because she encourages student presentations to be as interactive and discussion-based as her own lessons. She doesn't expect you to know things she hasn't taught, so she's got that going for her, but she doesn't post the lecture slides online, either, so you never know what you might have learned if she was better at time management. She often interrupts classroom discussions with her own self-admitted subjective opinions and sometimes go on for five or ten minutes as though she were just that classmate who talks too much, and not your professor. If you're a good writer, though, she's a fair-to-easy grader, and leaves good comments on your work (thank you, Education Program, for being rubric-crazy). The course itself is well-designed. It's a survey course, so expect to do a lot of reading on a wide range of topics - if you're interested in the topics, the week is a treat. If not, well, plough through. But if you like education and want a seminar-type course to blow your mind, this is it.
The course materials are interesting and necessary if you want to go into the field. Obviously! All materials are interesting if you love reading. This class by Gita is unanimously agreed by students in class as one of the worst. The class is huge, and Gita is simply boring. English is her second language, even after living and working in the US for years, she is still difficult to understand sometimes. She's been working for years, so knows a lot about the work, but that doesn't translate into being a good teacher. She keeps talking about her work in teacher quality, while the class is overcrowded and monotonous. Plus, she is not that helpful when you go ask her during office hours. Her assignments are unclear, and when you ask, she gives you a general answer, and expect that you do it yourself to understand her grading style. A tough grader, she is good at giving you feedback for your work, but she cannot articulate it in person. It's disappointing that as the head of the department, she monopolizes this class and does not allow other teachers to teach it. After this class, nobody intends to take one single class with her, unless they have too. I hope she'll resign soon and the department will hire someone better.