I’m a college senior pushing through my last few weeks before graduation. I decided to enter college majoring in elementary and special education. For the past four years, I’ve been dead set on having my own elementary classroom someday. That dream of mine came true about a month ago as I accepted my first teaching job as a first grade teacher. However, because I’m also a special education major, I am finishing up my special education student teaching experience…in a high school. As an elementary level person, I was terrified upon beginning my placement in a high school; however, I am now learning that God has a positive learning experience in every situation, and elementary and high school students can be similar in so many ways.
Elementary and high school students both need constant reminders. No matter the age of the student, distraction is a common obstacle teachers face on a daily basis. It wouldn’t have mattered if I had accepted a first grade elementary position or a high school special education position, I would be constantly reminding my students to stay on task regardless of the age level. However, the topic of the distraction might differ quite a bit depending on the grade level.
Elementary and high school students both love playing games. The amazing group of fourth grade students I was blessed to student teach with loved playing games. You might be surprised, but the great group of students I’m currently working with at my high school placement also love playing games. Believe it or not, both fourth graders and high school students will dance to songs on Go Noodle. They will also both enjoy playing games that challenge their thinking and make them laugh. Games fit learners of all ages.
Elementary and high school students both want to feel important and cared for. As a teacher, it is crucial to show students that they are important and you do care about them. It is simple to show elementary aged students that you care about them; hugs, handshakes, and high fives all help get the message across. However, my fear was that high school students would not want any of these. I was worried it would be impossible to show them I cared about them. I was wrong. Just like elementary students, high school students will give their teachers high fives. They will also go on for hours about what is happening in their lives. Listening to this allows them to know that you, the teacher, care about them. It tells them they are important. All anyone at any age wants is to feel important and cared for.
God, thank you for allowing this experience to be filled with so many positive outcomes. I will admit I was terrified to work with high school students; however, I can now confidently say a teacher at any age level is still a teacher. Grade or age level doesn’t matter. All that matters is that as teachers, you are making a difference in a student’s life. With God, so many experiences in life can be so wonderful and powerful.