By Kaylee Johnson
Recently, I had the opportunity to walk the halls of my grammar school, this time as a future teacher and observer, not a student. The halls still smelled of crayons and clay, but the backpacks flaunted characters like Elsa and Anna from “Frozen,” and the dogs from “Paw Patrol,” instead of “Spongebob Squarepants,” Ariel from “The Little Mermaid,” and “High School Musical.” It was my first fieldwork assignment as an education major, and I was walking into the classrooms completely unaware of what my responsibilities would be. The student teachers and observers that used to visit while I was a student let the main teacher in the room direct all of their motions.
The first day I observed, I was in a self-contained special education classroom. Immediately the children ran up to me and introduced themselves with excitement and curiosity. Luckily, all of the teachers I was observing under let me be involved in classroom activities and work with the children. Although there are benefits to sitting back and taking notes, there is no greater training than working in classrooms and watching the way children learn. I found that teachers appreciate when observers and student teachers help before they are asked, and take vested interests in curriculum and the struggles that students may be facing. A kindergarten teacher let me teach a math lesson, because she remembered observing as a college student, and she felt that hands-on experience proved to be the most important.
It was hard not to feel joyous in a kindergarten classroom full of blossoming five year olds. They impress themselves by reading a sentence or spelling a word correctly, and they seek approval from their beaming teachers. This experience reminded me that teaching is the career for me; in fact I can hardly imagine doing anything else. Teaching is an immensely rewarding career, and I saw that in the moments a child with severe autism spoke about his feelings for the first time all week, and a kindergartner read a story fluently. Those are the moments that make all of the other downfalls worth it. I also found that my college is doing a great job preparing me for my career, due to the fact that I never felt insecure or overwhelmed in a classroom setting. In the next two years I hope to grow into a teacher that will hopefully be adored by students, staff, and parents alike, through creative lessons and unconditional acceptance; the kind of teacher that sticks to my brain and heart like putty, years later.
Kaylee Johnson is an Education major at the College of Saint Rose.