I am an Interdisciplinary Educational Students major with a minor in Psychology. If you are wondering what that means, in short, I want to be an elementary school teacher. This semester I took a class called ‘Career Decisions in Teaching.’ This class was extremely eye-opening for me and rigorous because it required 30+ hours of observation in a classroom.
I have a placement at an amazing charter school that has incredible students and teachers. I have been doing my hours at this school for about a year now, and I could not be happier with my results. In Career Decisions, my professor asked us to do a final reflection. We had to come up with five things we had learned from working in the classroom. Although it was hard to narrow down, here are the five things I learned:
I learned how important it is to build a relationship with my mentor teacher.
The best advice you can ever get about teaching, can only come straight from a teacher. In my placement, I have learned so much from my mentor. She tells me all the great things to look forward to and the things I am going to have to look out for. By creating this relationship, I know she trusts me with her students and with whatever task she gives me. All the teachers welcomed me into the teacher’s lounge during lunch, and that is where I was able to understand all the hard work and behind the scenes that go into teaching. Instead of treating me like an observer, the teachers included me in the conversation, which meant so much to me. The thing that made me the happiest, was when they told me, “Teaching will be hard, but it is going to be the most rewarding thing you will ever get to experience.” I can not wait to continue going to this school and working side by side with my mentor teacher.
2. As a teacher, you never stop learning.
I always find it funny when I hear people say, “I have three more years of school, then I’m done.” That doesn’t really apply to me because I will be at school for the rest of my life. The truth is, a teacher is automatically a life long learner. There is always new material that teachers need to know to make sure the students are getting the best education. Also, I have found that children have so much to teach us, we just have to give them the opportunity to shine.
3. Students are smarter that we give them credit for.
In one of my classes, I had to teach a partner lesson with a girl named Natalie. We worked together and made a History lesson with a fun Jeopardy review afterwards. We thought we created questions that would be challenging for 5th graders to answer, but every single group got them right. Not one question was answered wrong, even when it came time for the Final Jeopardy question. I have learned that children are so much smarter than we give them credit for. Instead of talking down to them, I should be talking with them, sparking their curiosity and leading them to self discovery.
There is so much that teachers need to get done in a school year to prepare their students for the next grade. Every second wasted during teaching instruction really adds up. With multiple 30 second interruptions a day, it can add up to a few minutes. Each minute is valuable and that is why it is important to have a good classroom management plan. I now have a few tricks up my sleeves that will help me when the time comes to run my own class room.
5. Teaching is my calling and I know being a teacher is what I am meant to do.
My Career Decisions class was designed for one reason: to see if you were meant to be a teacher. This class is supposed to break down that fantasy dream and make it real. Coming out of this class has made me even more excited for my future. Sometimes I find my self dreaming about decorating my classroom or grading papers.
I know teaching is not going to be easy, but I know all my hard work will be worth it.