All along, Michigan State University child development graduate Katie Kosko has learned that good teaching requires stopping to reflect on strategies in the classroom.
So when the reality of her first full-time experience – the yearlong internship – set in, she took that message seriously. Kosko entered the annual Michigan Student Teacher/Intern of the Year competition coordinated by the Michigan Association of Teacher Educators (MATE). In the spring she was named Michigan Student Teacher of the Year, placing her in consideration for the national award coordinated by the Kappa Delta Pi Educational Foundation and the Association of Teacher Educators.
She was among hundreds of student teachers across the nation to record, analyze and submit a 30-minute lesson plan.
And she won.
“Effective teachers are not only responsible for their students’ learning, but their own learning,” said Kosko, who completed her teaching internship (a requirement of the College of Education program) at Gompers Elementary School in Detroit. “I entered the competition to grow as a teacher … I was shocked and completely honored to win.”
Kosko will be recognized for her award at the KDP closing banquet in Indianapolis on Nov. 3-5, 2011. Additionally, she has been invited to the annual Association of Teacher Educators’ 2012 conference in San Antonio.
The rewards of urban teaching
By the time Kosko was named Michigan Student Teacher/Intern of the Year during a dinner event in April 2011, she was deeply ingrained in the day-to-day transformations occurring in her kindergarten classroom at Gompers.
She had been nervous about spending the academic year in a Detroit Public Schools building where most students come from low-income homes. But that didn’t last long.
“They have such a strong sense of community at Gompers and they really brought me on board and said, ‘You are part of our staff,’” she said.
She had personal and professional guidance from her mentor teacher, National Board certified Linda Mangiapane, and field instructor Susan Florio-Ruane, a professor of teacher education in the MSU College of Education. Equipped with knowledge from her previous coursework and field experiences at MSU, Kosko’s passion for trying innovative teaching approaches took off.
Her award-winning lesson plan integrated arts with literacy by encouraging children to use pantomine to show the beginning, middle and end of a story.
When March came along, Kosko designed a reading challenge that resulted in students reading more than 700 books. They also wrote about their books on a blog and invited family members – some of whom themselves can’t read well – to share in the excitement.
“They were so proud to have their parent reading their favorite book to the class. To see that look on the child’s face … it will be in my mind forever,” Kosko said.
“In these high poverty areas, I was able to connect well with the students and the families and build relationships that, at first, I didn’t think I was going to build.”
Fresh perspective for the future
Kosko was recently hired by Wayne-Westland Community Schools, and will teach fifth-grade at Marshall Upper Elementary School. There, she will demonstrate her commitment to open-minded improvement – a trait she attributes to the teacher preparation program at MSU.
In regards to her recent award, Kosko will forever possess an honor on her resume that very few new teachers can claim.
“I think it shows I’ve gone above and beyond my internship and that I want to further my own education,” she says. “We need teachers who seek out professional development opportunities and who really know how to diversify their instruction to meet the needs of all students.
“I’m a young, enthusiastic face and I am ready for the challenge.”