The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Twin Cities ‘field trip’ becoming tradition for professor’s course

Deb Pattee, assistant professor for the College of Education and Human Sciences, has incorporated a tradition into her course schedule for taking a group of her students to the Twin Cities for a unique experience. The tradition is called “Urban Experience Day” and has taken place each semester for the past four years.

The group consists of about 60 students who are all going to be middle school or high school teachers after graduation.

The specialized field trip is designed to give the students, who are mainly from Eau Claire or similar areas, a chance to observe, analyze and teach in an environment more diverse and urban than their own, Pattee said.

“It has two purposes. One is to analyze the school and see if it matches the middle school philosophy in interdisciplinary teaming and curriculum and the other half is giving them an urban experience. So they are seeing an ethnic diversity,” Pattee said. Stephanie Unertl, an education major specializing in early childhood and adolescents, said the trip is a good experience for the students. It gives them a chance to experience something they’re not usually exposed to.

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“I was at Richfield, a public school (in the Twin Cities) considered urban,”

Unertl said. “There were a lot more kids who were black or Hispanic than you’d see in Eau Claire.”

Pattee said other than the schools being more urban and diverse, there is no rhyme or reason in choosing the schools in the Twin Cities to partner with. She has some connections with schools, like a previous student now at the school in Richfield, but is always looking for more schools to partner with for the experience.

Unertl said the schools are considered urban, meaning the student population has lower economic status and has a large amount racial diversity.

“It does become eye-opening for them,” Pattee said. “Some people might believe the stereotypes, so when they’re placed in an urban setting, the stereotypes are broken. Not all kids are gang-bangers.”

Overall, Pattee said, the experience is very positive for the students to be a part of. She said the students

occasionally report to her that they see certain things that they don’t agree with, like the way a teacher runs a class or disciplines the kids, so after each trip, Pattee and the students debrief and discuss their experience.

“We’re there for one day, so we don’t see the whole thing,” Pattee said. “We have to debrief the trip because they might see things like a fight, but that doesn’t mean fights happen all of the time. It helps them see that their one experience isn’t representative as a whole.”

Pattee said her dream is to have more experience like this for her students and would like to be at the schools for more than one day, but realizes that it would be too difficult for her students to miss their other classes. Pattee plans to continue her tradition of Urban Experience Day for her incoming students in the future.

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Twin Cities ‘field trip’ becoming tradition for professor’s course