Category Archives: Praxis II: Educational Psychology

Educational Psychology (PSYC B203)

Course Instructor: Kim Cassidy

Praxis Coordinator: Nell Anderson

Field Site: Overbrook Education Center

Course Description (by Kim Cassidy):

In Educational Psychology (PSYC B203) topics in the psychology of human cognitive, social, and affective behavior are examined and related to educational practice. Issues covered include: learning theories, memory, attention, thinking, motivation, social/emotional issues in childhood and adolescence, behaviorism, metacognition, positive psychology and assessment/learning disabilities.

Fieldwork Description (by Nell Anderson): 

This is a Praxis II course, so the work for the course included weekly visits to a K-8 classroom, where students were actively engaged in classroom assisting, getting to know the children and teachers as well as learning about the school/classroom culture and educational practices. This is the first time that all of the students in a Praxis II course have partnered with one fieldsite.  We were fortunate to work with the Overbrook Educational Center (OEC) in West Philadelphia. OEC is a Philadelphia Community School  and has the largest population of blind and visually impaired students in the entire Philadelphia School District. Slightly under 1/3 of the student population is blind or visually impaired. Students were assigned to regular K-8, Life Skills (LS) and Visually Impaired (VI) and also to Music and Art classrooms.  Many students were in their classrooms during Morning Meeting, where there is a focus on Restorative Practices.

Student Reflections about Fieldwork at OEC

At the end of the semester, students participated in a reflection activity.  We invite you to view their responses to these questions:

  1. What do you see as the strengths of OEC?
  2. How did your fieldwork experience at OEC enhance your learning in this course?
  3. Other things you learned?
  4. How has this experience been meaningful to you personally?
  5. What has this experience motivated you to learn more about or to be involved with in the future?

1. What do you see as the strengths of OEC?

  • Strong connections across grade levels
  • The care for the students as whole people is very special.
  • The teachers have their own sense of community as well.  They are always willing to help each other and care for each other’s students.
  • Promote positive psychology through the set up of their K class
  • The sense of genuine care and interest that is visible in every faculty member at the school and the commitment that they have to the students
  • Involving many stakeholders
  • Teachers wanting and actively pushing their students to succeed no matter the circumstances
  • “Cozy Corner” –leads to Student Agency
  • Students knew multiple teachers – like a small family
  • Student to adult ratio – There are always multiple adults in the room
  • The ways that the school involves parents

2. How did the experience of OEC enhance your learning in this course?  Examples?

  • Classroom management.  The teacher demonstrates strong abilities on withitness and overlapping.  I also saw that this can look very different depending on the context. Sometimes it is okay to embrace the craziness of kids.
  • The agility to adapt to the classroom is essential.  Meeting the students where they are.
  • Motivation and engagement component of PERMA- made coursework interesting by using sports analogies.
  • I got to see metacognition in action when the kids told me that they like subjects cause they were good at them.
  • Helped me to understand the impact of classroom management and motivation techniques.

3. Other things that you learned?

  • School can be fun for kids – They are actually really interested in learning about everything, which I think is due to the positive environment and the teachers.
  • I learned how important it is to make connections with kids on a level that is separate from academics.  They want to see that as educators we are interested in them as whole person and not just as students
  • Kindergarten kids are very interested in music class and they have a passion to explore different kinds of instruments.
  • I learned that the administration of a school taking a strong interest in their students and their families can really positively affect how the students see the school and their interest in school.
  • How important teaching students how to problem solve on their own is especially important in younger grades

4. How was this experience meaningful to you personally?

  • Made me realize that I may want to work with kids with cognitive disabilities. Also helpful experience for grad school applications.
  • Super impactful re: seeing IDEA/LRE in practice with disabled students/SPED
  • It brought the course material to life and showed me how important the things we are learning are!
  • My plan was always to work with children and this experience has allowed me to do that.   This summer I worked with 12 6-12 year olds and working with the K class at OEC has given me a different experience with children.  After the summer, I thought I might change my mind about working with kids, but OEC helped me to confirm that i do want to work with kids.

What has this experience motivated you to want to learn more about or to be involved with in the future?

  • I want to work more with older kids and get experience in different classroom environments to find the best ways to engage with students in every  classroom community!
  • Seeing the stigmas around lower income classrooms and how untrue they are, and lack of support they get as a result, makes me want to get more involved and be active in a similar school
  • How to best support students’ socio-emotional needs while also supporting them grow academically
  • Seeing students engage with content and experience, joy, curiousity and pride  in the work
  • Seeing the need for teacher support in the classroom has motivated me to work in a public/charter school that has a lack of support and resources.  At OEC, the students and teachers need for support from the Philadelphia school system to have more opportunity for success.
  • This experience has motivated me  to want to find schools/workplaces that foster a similar sense of community.  Want to learn more about how teachers create environments for their students where learning, discipline and care can all happen simultaneously.

5. What was challenging about the field experience and how did you meet that challenge?

  • When I first arrived, it was hard to connect with the class because they already had such a close community, but I started stepping up and just helping out. Then I was given more chances to interact with the students and to get to know them.
  • Balancing being kind and relatable with being an authority figure-   The kids saw me as a peer and I sometimes needed to be clearer about establishing myself as a “teacher” while still relating to them.
  • Trying to step in or intervene when I see something not right happening.  (ended up ignoring it at the end)
  • Having to participate in pedagogical practices  which were made by the teacher that I did not agree with
  • Concern about interrupting reinforcement schedules



Student Letters to OEC Teachers

Each student was asked to write a thank you letter to their classroom host teacher with a focus on sharing what they had learned in relation to the Educational Psychology course as well as personally.  They were asked to share those letters with Professor Cassidy and Nell Anderson, the Praxis Coordinator for the course, so that they could better understand the various outcomes of the Praxis fieldwork.  Several of those letters have been shared below.

Letter 1

Dear Mrs. P.,

As the semester comes to an end, so does my time at the Overbrook Educational Center. Thank you so much for welcoming me into your classroom and allowing me to interact with your students. This experience has been fantastic because it allowed me to draw connections from what I learned in my Educational Psychology class. I am inspired by the way that you maintain control of the class while still showing your students that you care. One of my favorite moments of my observation was when a student was talking when he wasn’t supposed to, and it turned into a back-and-forth discussion when you told him to stop. Instead of punishing him you said “please stop. I love you too much to argue with you.” I’ve always believed that it’s important to show students that you still support them even during times when you’re not happy with them and you always do this. Looking back on my history with teachers during elementary school, I recall them being so focused on getting students to obey that they forgot to be compassionate. It makes me wish that I had a teacher more like you that would allow me to feel more comfortable in the classroom. Your impact on your students is so profound that when you’re not there, students ask about you multiple times and the overall classroom environment changes. This experience at OEC not only encouraged me to minor in Educational Studies, but it also enhanced my desire to work with children and become a teacher. I hope that when I finally become certified to teach, I leave the same positive impact on my students as you do. With that being said, thank you for the experience and I will miss this classroom and all of the amazing songs we sang!

See you this Friday for my last day!

With appreciation,

Amy Santos


Letter 2

Dear Ms. D.,

The fall semester is coming to an end and I’m sad to let you know that tomorrow will be my last visit to OEC. Thank you for accommodating my presence every Friday morning, it’s been such an insightful and rewarding experience getting to know your students and being able to witness your teaching. I’m always in awe of the passion that shines through when you teach, your excitement regardless of however early in the morning it is. Sometimes when I’m in your classroom, I think back to the time when I was in third grade, occupying a tiny chair like the ones your students sit on, eating snacks and reading story books in my seat next to my peers. Then I think of how blessed your students are to have a teacher like you who cares so deeply about them — I wouldn’t be surprised if ten years down the road when they’re all emerging into young adulthood, they reflect back on the days they spent in your classroom as eight and nine-year-olds laughing, dancing, spelling, drawing, reading, and learning from you, and are grateful for those joyful memories. I’d also like to express my gratitude for Ms. F and her generous help. I wish a happy holiday to you, your family, your students and Ms. F, and I hope that the new year will bring you more peace and well-being.

Thank you again.


Caroline Min


Letter 3

Dear Ms. F.,

First off,  I want to thank you for allowing me into your classroom this semester! I had an amazing time learning from you and your incredible students. Seeing the interactions you made with each and every student in your class places as emphasis on making student connections in my future careers in education. Even in my short time there I could see how valuable the students found those one on one interactions. I was also incredibly inspired by the importance of group activities in your classroom. We talked a lot this semester about collaborative teaching and learning. OEC is doing a great job at providing students with the access and space to develop and learn from others around them. I was especially grateful when I got the chance to work with a small group of students from your class on an exit ticket. Seeing those students then take a test on similar material the following week and feels more confident in their learning was truly amazing. You may not have realized this but getting to work and learn from you and your class was the highlight of every week and pushed me to want to get more involved in the Philly public schools. Thank you again for your support and openness throughout the semester!


Roisin Duffy (she/her) ‘24


Letter 4

Dear Ms. D,

I am writing to let you know that tomorrow, Tuesday, December 7th, will be my last day in your classroom at OEC. I cannot express how much I have enjoyed spending time in your classroom with you and your students. It has been a wonderful experience that I will truly treasure for the rest of my life. I have loved getting to know you and the kids and will miss you all.

One part of my class’s partnership with OEC is providing a sort of reflection at the end of our time at the school, which I will provide in this email.

The first thing I think of when I reflect on this experience is how awesome of a third-grade teacher you are. Third grade was my favorite year in elementary school, and it was all because of my teacher. I will never forget how fun and caring she was, and I just know that your students will look back on their time in third grade the same way – with so many good memories.

In relation to my class, I was able to take a lot of the experiences I had in your classroom and apply them to what we were learning about, especially effective classroom management and motivation. One thing we discussed about effective classroom management is having “with-it-ness”, meaning always knowing what is happening and going on in your classroom, and I would definitely say you have this. Always knowing what is going on, without necessarily having to scan the classroom non-stop, has been proven to be really effective in both noticing and correcting issues, but also making students feel seen, and I cannot express enough how well you do this. We have also discussed motivation when it comes to motivating students to do work, be excited to learn, and practice good behavior and I see so many elements in your classroom that motivate your students. I especially love the compliment chart and the afro-mation station, as I see them providing the kids with incentive as well as positivity to reflect on. I know you don’t necessarily need the observations of a college student on your teaching, but I wanted to express how great of a teacher I think you are.

When I was younger, I wanted to be a teacher, but as I got older and went through more school, I became discouraged from this goal. I had fewer good teachers, more bad experiences, and began to really dislike going to school starting in sixth grade. However, being in your classroom has reminded me of why I wanted to be a teacher, and has inspired me to look back into working in a school setting. As of right now, my goal is to become a therapist, specializing in children and families, but this experience has shown me the amazing work that teachers do to help kids every day, and I am now considering adding an education minor to my degree to hopefully explore this path a little more.

Your students are so lucky to have you as their teacher, and I am so thankful that you have allowed me into your classroom this fall.

I am truly sad that tomorrow will be my last day, but I can’t wait to come in one last time😊

Thank you so much,

Abby Krauss


Letter 5

Dear Ms. H.,

Given that tomorrow is my last day with you and your students, I just wanted to say a huge thank you to you for the amazing opportunity you have given me by being in your classroom. It was a pleasure getting to know you, as well as your incredible students. From the first day I arrived, I could immediately see how dedicated you were to the students and the material that you were teaching. Everyone in your class has made me feel so comfortable and confident. I am so grateful that you trusted Miss Caroline and me with so many classroom tasks, as it gave us so much hands-on experience in a variety of roles.

I also wanted to let you know how helpful it was to be in your classroom for the purposes of our course at Bryn Mawr. In our class, Caroline and I have been studying a variety of topics in the field of educational psychology, from learning differences to memory. Personally, I found so much valuable information in your classroom about the efficacy of specific psychological theories, especially those in the area of classroom management. It was amazing to see certain principles work so well in the classroom! For example, I was so impressed with the amount of agency that you give the students on a daily basis, as it is evident how empowering it is to them. Also, it was incredible to see that you have adopted a reward system based on mutual effort, as opposed to inter student competition. I also think that you keep math and science so engaging for them by using so many different mediums and strategies. It was incredible to be able to use your classroom as an example of effective classroom management for my papers and tests, as it was so apt.

Overall, this has been such a rewarding and engaging experience. While I have loved the class at Bryn Mawr, being able to work with students like yours has been such a joy. Going forward, I hope to take what I have learned from this class and use some of these strategies in my own classroom one day. Thank you again for all you do.

Wishing you all the best and a very happy holiday season,

Molly Gouran