Going Back To First Grade

Going Back to First Grade

Once you start college, the last thing you think about is going back to elementary school, but this semester I volunteered in a first-grade classroom, and the experience was amazing.

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Once you start college, the last thing you think about is going back to elementary school if that's not your major. College student either love or hate little kids, and are far to busy to think about working with them for a consistent amount of time. As someone who always wanted to teach high school, I never thought that I would end up in an elementary school classroom. But this semester, I was able to volunteer in a Spanish Immersion Elementary school.

I volunteered in part because I was intrigued. I knew that I had no interest in teaching elementary schoolers, but I still agreed to work with them. I wanted to know what it looked like to teach elementary schoolers Spanish, especially since it's hard enough to teach small children English. I thought that maybe these kids would understand the same amount of Spanish that high schoolers do, but I was surprised to experience what I did.

The kids were so much smarter than I thought. Even those that possibly have a learning disability understand so much more than I thought they would when I speak to them. The hardest part of teaching them isn't that they don't understand the Spanish, it's keeping them on track or explaining the rules of certain games so they understand how to play it.

My first day, I was thrown into the chaos right after lunch. I was given an activity that I was then told to explain to the first graders in Spanish. When I left at the end of the day, I was exhausted but excited to continue to work with these kids and the teachers that I worked with.

The first couple of days I went, I was very confused. I didn't really know what I was doing, and I thought that the kids wouldn't understand me if I spoke English. Also, as with starting at every new school, I didn't really know what the school's rules were and what it was okay to say yes to.

One of the other student teachers described them as "little tornadoes" and I have never heard anything more accurate. They're sweet and thank you for working with them, but they also tend to destroy everything they touch. They try their best to learn and be careful, but it never goes perfectly. One day I painted with my students, and even when I was trying to tell them to keep the paints separate, by the end, it was just one big mixed color.

Now when I go, I'm super excited to work with my kids, and I love being able to learn more about how to teach younger children. I still don't want to teach elementary schoolers, but I do know that I've learned a lot from this experience, and I will take this with me in my future teaching experiences.

Through this experience, I've been able to learn more about my teaching style and other teaching styles. When you're working with small children, you have to have a lot of patience and be willing to reexplain instructions. This experience has caused me to be more patient because I know that these children are trying their best, and it's not going to help anyone if I yell at them.

It has also taught me a lot about children with learning disabilities. This semester, I'm taking an Introduction to Special Education class, and when I started the semester, I wasn't really sure how relevant to my career it would be. But now working with these students who are being diagnosed with learning disabilities, I am able to understand the lectures that I'm hearing and I can use some of the strategies that I'm learning in order to help my student's learning.

Most importantly, this semester has helped me accept some failure. I have a couple of students who struggle with getting their work done. Some of them recognize that they're not doing the work that they should, but they can't just focus. Others believe that they can get away without doing any work. While I can't force students to focus on their work, I know that I should work to motivate them as much as I can, and I can't let them just win and get what they want immediately. While there are some things I can control about what happens when I'm teaching, I know that some things are out of my control.

Working with students is so important to me, as a future educator. It's what I love to do, and it helps prepare me for my future. It has been so rewarding to work with these students, and it has taught me so much throughout the semester. I didn't think that I would enjoy working with elementary students, but I have loved it. When the semester is over, I'm going to miss my kids, but I'll always value the memories and experiences they've given me.

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13 Ways To Beat The 'Sunday Scaries'

They may not have to be as scary as you think.

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It's been proven that 76% of people in the US experience "really bad" stress on Sundays, this stress known as the "Sunday Scaries" or "Sunday Blues." I have experienced the "Sunday Scaries" pretty much every Sunday since I started high school. Then, I remembered an episode of "Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide," in which Ned tried to figure out a way to not dread Mondays. He eventually convinced his teacher to play a movie on Mondays, which got me to thinking of how to not dread Sunday nights leading into Mondays. The following are 13 ways to turn your Scary Sunday into Sunday Funday.

1. Exercise

Whether it is going to the gym, taking an exercise class, going for a run, or simply taking a walk, do it. Exercise increases endorphins in your brain and benefits your physical health immensely. You will feel more productive and energized.

2. Eat well

Skip the junk food on Sundays. Junk food is loaded with sugars which can increase levels of stress and depression, and often leave you feeling hungry so you eat more. Eat a healthy dinner early in the night so that you go to bed full and satisfied.

3. Drink a lot of water

Drinking water not only throughout the day but also at night will help you to wake up more refreshed in the morning.

4. Go to bed early

I'm not saying you need 10+ hours, but get however many hours you need for a good night's sleep.

5. Write a list of what's on your mind

Writing out a list of everything running around in your head can help it feel less messy. When all of the to-dos are disorganized in your head, they can be overwhelming. By writing a list you are able to see everything that you need to do, and then it doesn't look as bad.

6. Watch your favorite show

Grey's Anatomy, Friends, The Office, Sunday Night Football, etc. Watching whatever makes you feel content and relaxed (although those SNF games can get pretty intense) is a key ingredient to relaxing for the upcoming week. Reading a good book is also a great idea!

7. Get your work done in the morning/early afternoon

Get whatever you need to get done in the morning and/or early afternoon. This way, you have the night to relax, you are not staying up late Sunday night to do last minute work, and you are able to get better sleep.

8. Plan something to look forward to on Monday morning

Plan to wake up early and make your favorite breakfast, listen to your favorite playlist, pick out an outfit you feel good in, go to your favorite coffee shop, watch your favorite show, or whatever gets you in a good mood. By having something to look forward to Monday, you are more likely to go to bed happy and excited to wake up in the morning, instead of dreading it.

9. Call your parents or friends

Call your parents, your family, your friends, etc. just to catch up. I'm sure they'd love to hear from you.

10. Listen to new music

This way you pay more attention to the music, the lyrics, the feel of it. You aren't able to push the music to your subconscious and think about all the stresses coming up in the week.

11. Write out your week in a planner 

Cry? Watch Netflix? Attempt homework? Check. Check. Maybe Check.

12. Set a goal to complete by the end of the week. 

Setting a goal allows you something to focus on that you want, not something that you need to do for others. This goal leaves room for "me time." Whether it be finding the time to watch a movie, setting up a fun night with friends, or cleaning the house throughout the week so that you don't have to do it last minute on Sunday.

13. Make stress your friend. 

In Kelly McGonigal's TED Talk, "How to Make Stress Your Friend," she explains how seeing stress as helpful can lead you to live a healthier life in two ways. The first way is that when you see stress as positive, although your heart still races, your blood cells do not constrict as they would if you thought of your stress as negative. This helps you maintain a healthier heart and decrease your risk of an early heart attack. The second way is that stress releases oxytocin, which makes you more social.

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