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.