This semester has been all about me figuring out what I want to do. I am (strongly) leaning towards teaching elementary school, because I love kids and enjoy bossing them around. (I kid! Though it is very satisfying saying "five-minute time-out!")
I'm doing two things to figure out if teaching is a good fit: First, I am taking a field experience class where I am put in a classroom at an elementary school for 12 weeks; and second, I am working at a private school's after-school childcare program.
The field experience class is, in a word, AWESOME. One hour of lecture and then we head to our assigned classrooms, which for four of us at the moment is special education. After six weeks in the first classroom we change over to another class, which for me is kindergarten.
Special education is amazing. There are anywhere from 4-8 kids in the class at any given time, because the school mainstreams them as much as possible, so if Billy is really good at reading he goes to a regular class for their reading time and then comes back. They have speech therapy (I got to go see a session twice!) and some other classes as well for the kids. It ranges from K-3rd grades, and all the kids are very smart this year according to the teachers.
I loved that we got to work one-on-one with the students. They had lessons planned, so we would review their sight-words and then do some pages from a practice book and then read . . . and bribe and/or coerce them as necessary. Some days they were better at concentrating, some days they were super hyper, some days they were just not into learning. Every day was an exercise in patience.
Being in a teaching position like that was very humbling. There are lots of little tricks to getting the kids to understand what you're talking about, and tricks on how to focus--even getting to know each child's strengths and weaknesses helped you understand the best way to work with them. Learning these tricks took time, and an understanding that there was always some better way to help the kids learn.
Last Thursday was the last day we were in special ed. When we walked in (myself and three other girls), the class was sitting in a circle. We were invited to join. The kids said thank you to us and why they were glad we were there. They had practiced before we came.
One little boy said he was glad we came because "it helps because class is quiet and I can work."
A girl said, "You are my friends and I'll miss you," which of course made my eyes get all hot and wet.
A boy acted really shy and cute and finally mumbled, "You're all pretty."
I am going to miss them so much! Kindergarten should be really fun though, so that's something to look forward to. The private school I am working at is great! It has kindergarten through 8th grade, and every day I work somewhere different. The kids and parents are so nice and it is great experience.
So far all signs point to yes, I do want to be a teacher.