In the world of teaching, the first couple years can be exciting, challenging and sometimes extremely daunting. For recent UD education grads, the Lalanne program offers a chance to teach while still having the guidance of a graduate staff and the support of a live-in faith-based community.
Lalanne is a two-year program that gives graduates the opportunity to earn their master’s degree while also getting two years of teaching experience in under-resourced Catholic schools. What makes this program unique is the focus on a faith-based community of staff to support new teachers educationally and a living community of peers to encourage growth in their faith and personal lives. New teachers have had the opportunity to work in schools in Cleveland, Cincinnati and Lansing, Michigan.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Lalanne program, we asked former and current participants to reflect on the impact the program has had on their careers, faith and personal development. — Elizabeth Elward ’20
“Teaching is all about the little moments: seeing the lightbulb click for a student. Ultimately, the times when I had to be most persistent were the most rewarding, when I was teaching 11th-grade math in Cincinnati. I had a girl who struggled through the first two quarters, but she was quiet and didn’t ask for help. She seemed resigned to the fact that she was never going to be good at math. She hated when I looked over her shoulder at her work, so when I did, I made sure to affirm something she had done. Then I began to slowly offer her help. We got to the chapter on logarithms and she ended up doing fairly well. She was convinced I had curved the test or graded her nicely. I spent weeks convincing her she had done well on her own merit and ability. At the end of the year, she gave me a present. It was a little stone from a place her family liked to go hiking. She said the last time she gave one of these stones to a teacher was four years ago in seventh grade because that was the last teacher she had who she felt believed in her and cared about her.
Lalanne taught me that I could not take everything personally and that I am not responsible for the choices that my students make, but that I am responsible for responding with the same love and justice that God offers us.”
“I had some really profound and transformative experiences in my undergrad years surrounding urban education and social justice. Because I was studying math education, I knew that working in an under-resourced school could be something that would bring fulfillment to my social justice passion. When discovering that Lalanne could place me in an urban school, with a community of support around me, and provide a math education master’s degree, it was a journey I could not pass up. I learned the value and utility of open and honest communication. It is a cliché, but it is such an important skill to develop that so many of us are afraid to do, especially when it comes to addressing confrontation. Whether it was in my community house or in my classroom, I learned that tension could be relieved so often by being honest and comfortable by sharing your feelings, addressing a circumstance and moving on. It made the relationships around me so much healthier and enjoyable.”
“During my first year I learned that students really enjoy being ‘teachers’ of their own. If we were going over a math concept, I would ask questions to help them solve the problem together, step by step. I then had students take turns going up to the Smartboard to ask the rest of the class similar questions, but this time they were leading the class. I was able to assess which students could grasp the concept if they could explain and teach the concept to their peers. Plus, they loved calling on their classmates to answer.
Lalanne helped me in my personal growth through regular adult transitions. Budgeting, cooking, taking care of a house, working a full-time job and balancing relationships were all a part of my Lalanne experience. I felt I was eased into these adult tasks because I was living with a community instead of alone.”