Student Stories

Joseph Pruden

Creating Connections: Joseph Pruden, MA-Teaching '14

Every teacher has a motto for teaching. Joseph Pruden’s is “create connections with students.”

Like most teachers, Pruden, MA-Teaching ’14 wanted a career that allowed him to make a difference in the lives of others. He initially thought he found that career while working for a nonprofit organization creating and presenting financial literacy education workshops for college students.

“When the company stopped providing workshops, I found myself working exclusively in an office,” he said. “I realized very quickly that the element of my work I found most rewarding was the teaching itself.”

Pruden promptly made the decision to get a degree in teaching secondary education and began investigating initial licensure programs. He ultimately chose the Master of Arts in Teaching degree at Hamline because of the program’s focus on student-centered teaching. 

“I am grateful to have gone to a school that instructs its teachers to always teach with students first and foremost in mind,” Pruden said. “Hamline ensures that all of its students are well-prepared to make reflection a key part their teaching practice.”

Hamline’s student teaching experience also stood out for Pruden. “One thing that made me feel confident going into student teaching is Hamline’s emphasis on co-teaching,” Pruden said.

Hamline’s co-teaching model is a phase-in-phase-out approach, with the student teacher gradually assuming more responsibility for classroom teaching with the cooperating teacher continuing to be present in the classroom. “It allows for the cooperating-teacher to be a true mentor,” Pruden said. “They are always there to give feedback and share insights, while allowing the teacher-candidate to engage their mastery of content and teaching.”

Pruden took his philosophy of making connections with students abroad in his first teaching job in Stockholm, Sweden, where he teaches English at the equivalent of a charter school in Minnesota. Pruden's students come from a wide range of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. While many students identify as Turkish, Kurdish, Iraqi, and Moroccan, he teaches students with backgrounds connected to nearly every continent. “Hamline’s focus on culturally-relevant teaching prepared me well for teaching the students in my classroom,” Pruden said.

Through Hamline’s example, Pruden has learned that the most important skill an educator needs to possess is the ability to know each of his or her students. “By creating connections with each student, as well as the class as a whole, I create a safe, positive classroom environment in which students feel more comfortable taking the risk of learning something new,” Pruden said. “This skill is built into every aspect of the MAT program.”

Find out more about the Hamline School of Education's Master of Arts in Teaching and the many licensure options available through the program, or contact Hamline's Graduate Admission Office to learn more about joining the Hamline community.