“The students are at the center of the classroom and it is the teacher’s role to connect them to the content of the class.” Gretchen Irvine came to Augsburg University in 1993. Her philosophy for education is that classrooms need to have active engagement, such as small groups, cooperative learning, problem solving continuous assessment and relevant work.
“I believe in using the community as a research tool and bringing the community into the classroom through resource speakers. Respect for the unique characteristic of each student is essential. The teacher needs to get his/her head up to understand the big pictures.”
Gretchen said Augsburg is an “access college” and has a richly diverse neighborhood from which students in the education department learn. She added that learning happens in urban schools that are close to Augsburg and also in the community around the campus, which in turn helps students understand the cultural beliefs of the residents.
“Students visit schools early in our program. They begin these experiences with observation of classrooms, students and teaching styles Gradually they have more responsibility for teaching themselves. Students get support from faculty members. We build relationships with them, carefully assess their needs as learners and we try to provide support necessary for them to be successful. Honoring the classroom as the capstone of experience is a high value in the department.”
Gretchen practices what she ‘teaches’ by helping teachers at her church to improve Sunday school. She also tutors elementary-level students in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. Gretchen is active in professional organizations and was the former president of The Minnesota Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators.
- B.A. College of St. Teresa
- M.S. University of Wisconsin-River Falls
- Ph.D. University of Minnesota
Current Research Interests
- Community Engagement
- Full-day kindergarten
- Global learning