Experiencing the Other Side of the Classroom
By: Erin Kreischer '13
Issue: Winter 2013
Do you remember that one homework assignment that you didn't turn in on time? How about that time in second grade when you refused to share your gel pens with your classmates? As a teacher, how would you handle a situation where your young students are not sharing, trying to eat paste, or falling asleep during class?
At Juniata, our education department provides future teachers with the tools to handle the trying situations of a classroom, by giving you hands-on experience beginning in your freshman year.
In their first year, Juniata students visit nearby schools to observe classroom set-ups, lecture styles, and the overall cohesiveness of the classroom.
I like how we get field experience right away, because you become more comfortable [in the classroom], says Khadejia Norman '16, who studies secondary education and mathematics.
As sophomores, undergrads teach a full lesson in a local school, Matthew Johann '14 recalls his first teaching experiences fondly,
During my sophomore year, I collaborated with my teacher and taught three extra lessons.
Students will eventually student teach full-time as seniors for one semester. But, prior to their student teaching positions, students conduct
This experience helps you get to know your students and the teacher so that you understand what will be expected of you when you begin student teaching full time, says Jennifer Ashcraft '13, who is pre-student teaching.
By their final year, Juniata's future educators have already developed confidence in the classroom, and a preferred teaching style. Toni Harr '13, who is studying secondary education and history, says,
I write the lesson plans and the tests, but I also have to know how to make the class more inclusive, because traditional methods of note-taking and homework are no longer enough to motivate students.
Planning all of your courses and trying to coordinate classroom experiences may sound overwhelming, but only if you haven't met Juniata's education professors. Leah Jans '15 switched her POE to PreK-4 the day before the spring semester of her freshman year. Leah sent an education professor an email expressing her interest in switching POEs, and the next thing Leah knew, she had every class for her next three and a half years planned, and is scheduled to graduate on time.
As someone who came into the program late, I was surprised by how much the professors help you, Jans says.
They don't hold your hand, but they want you to succeed.
Education professors have even been rumored to give their students stress-buster care packages during finals week.