Legendary cartoonist Charles Schulz once wrote, â€œhappiness is a warm puppy.â€� Southern Illinois University Edwardsvilleâ€™s Beth Wiemers, an elementary education instructor and field supervisor in the School of Education, Health and Human Behavior, decided to introduce something of that nature to her classroom on Wednesday, Oct. 9 when the subject for the day was creating a positive classroom culture and/or environment.
One element to creating that positivity is teachers becoming better acquainted with their students. To model that practice, Wiemers had the students complete an activity called, â€œI wish my teacher knew.â€� Denver Public Schools third grade teacher Kyle Schwartz published â€œI Wish My Teacher Knew: How One Question Can Change Everything for Our Kidsâ€� in 2016. The book revealed the daily realities faced by her students, and of which she was unaware.
â€œDue to feedback from my students regarding their stress levels, I decided to contact Got Your Six Support Therapy Dogs,â€� Wiemers said. The therapy dogs came to visit both sections of the CIED 314-Learning Environments class. Sarah Marsh, also an elementary education instructor and field supervisor, led the other section.
â€œThe support dog personnel shared the benefits of support dogs, and how my students, when they become classroom teachers, can contact the organization to assist their students,â€� Wiemers said. â€œMy students were then allowed to sit with the dogs and decompress. The difference in my studentsâ€™ demeanor was amazing. Many thanked us for listening to their concerns and doing something to address them.â€�
Wiemers will have the support dogs back for an encore during the spring semester. â€œAnother high pressure time for these same students is when they are submitting their EdTpaâ€™s for teaching certification,â€� Wiemers said. â€œOur plan is to bring the dogs back during that submission week to help with stress.â€�
The support dogs will also return for the fall 2019 learning environments class to not only assist students, but also make them aware of the available options when they are classroom teachers.
Photo (Upper Right, L-R): SIUE education students Madison Hamby, Marina Taylor, and Ashley Orr.
Lower Right: Beth Wiemersâ€™ elementary education class at SIUE with support dogs.