Think experiential learning. One of the main tenets of The Lab School of Washington is to teach students by doing rather than by telling. Arts-infused, project-based learning is, in many ways, the antidote to rote learning. So why shouldn’t this methodology extend to graduate students, especially those who are learning to teach students with learning differences?
It does, and has since 1976 when Lab School Founder Sally L. Smith started American University’s Master of Arts in Special Education: Learning Disabilities, a specialized graduate program for learning how to teach children with learning differences. The partnership between American University and The Lab School was a Cinderella-slipper fit — and remains so 40 years later. The program integrates theory and practice not in separate courses or during separate semesters but every day in every activity. It includes coursework at night and a year-long hands-on internship in a Lab classroom working with a master teacher during the day
Lab School Elementary Curriculum and Technology Coordinator and AU Intern Supervisor Jennifer Durham:
“The AU/Lab partnership is incredible, really a one of a kind. Lab is a leader in the nation in educating children with learning differences, and having gone through the program myself, I know that the internship is the key element. There is a tight connection between what is being taught in the grad classes at night and what is done in the classrooms during the day at Lab. I mean, what better way to learn — to truly learn — as a graduate student than to get the opportunity to spend a full year in the classroom rolling up your sleeves and learning to put into practice that methodology and research?”
Dean of American University’s School of Education, Teaching and Health Sarah Irvine Belson, PhD:
“AU’s MA program is designed to help current and future teachers learn proven methods, which are grounded in evidenced-based practice. The program’s research base allows the professors to provide AU students with the latest practices to help children develop academically, socially, and emotionally. The faculty are committed to providing AU students with state-of-the-art approaches ranging from arts-integration to neuroscience to technology, embedded into a program that is designed to help teachers support the strengths and needs of the student with language-based learning disabilities.”
Click here to learn more about the partnership between The Lab School of Washington and American University.