One recent list of the top careers kids want when they grow up features "teacher" as the fourth most popular answer. The National Center for Education Statistics highlights education degrees among the top number conferred.
At Taylor, the size of our Education department backs up this data. Becoming an educator is a worthy goal, and students who want to be teachers are passionate from the start. That's why our Education majors launch right into the field their first semester at Taylor. By senior year, they've had three years of experience in different classrooms and are more than prepared for the next major step: student teaching.
Sooheon Kim ('20), an Elementary Education major, recently recorded what the exciting day in the life of a student teacher is like. She served in a kindergarten classroom for half a semester before moving into her next student teaching experience.
Preparing for a Day of Kindergarten
To get ready for kindergarten student-teaching, Kim says, "My alarm goes off at 5 am every morning. I try to read at least some of God’s words before I start my day. I then go out to the apartment kitchen to pack lunch and have breakfast."
As she gets ready, she keeps in mind that, "Kindergarten is not a grade for you to dress up too professional because you will be kneeling down to their eye-level most of the time and most likely will be rolling in the dust and dirt with them."
Off to School
Arriving at the school around 7:45 am, Kim says she unloads her "huge teacher-bag" and starts prepping. "I make copies, prepare visuals, and set up the classroom with needed materials,” Kim says, “making sure that everything is where it needs to be once the students arrive, all the way until 8:45 am." She also talks and plans with cooperating teachers.
The Students Arrive
Once the students are in the classroom, Kim assists with duties like checking parent-teacher folders and taking attendance. Next, Kim says, "I usually lead an opening reading lesson on the alphabet and sight words, and I try to make this part creative and engaging so that the students start the day with curiosity and excitement. The class then breaks into small group, rotational 90-minute reading blocks in which I lead a group."
As the day goes on, Kim helps as students participate in individualized programs, group lessons, and then lunch. During lunch she, "stays with the students in the cafeteria to help out with opening tortillas bags and pouring ketchup for the students." Sometimes she gets recess duty instead.
Mid-Day in Kindergarten
"After recess is a little more hectic for Kindergarteners due to their short attention spans, but it is nice that they got to have some of their wiggles out by then," Kim says. During post-lunch and recess, she says, "I have alone-time for me to prepare for the afternoon. Just like the morning, I make sure everything is where it is supposed to be, ready-to-go, when the students come back."
Kim's students have an enrichment time in another classroom, and then rotating specials like music or library. "I teach Science, Social Studies, and P.E.," Kim says of this block. Then the class has snack time and second-recess.
"Kindergarteners get second recess after snack," Kim explains, "because after all, their job as children is to play." She values this time because, "recess is when I try to interact with my students more … I chat with students, asking and listening to personal questions. This is crucial for me because this is when my students decide to trust and listen to me."
Before the Buses Arrive
"After second recess, our day goes by quite fast," Kim says. "We come in for a math lesson. It is usually in a small group, rotation form as well. I lead a group, teaching and practicing math concepts. I like to make this part more interactive with manipulatives and visual aids because by this time, Kindergarteners are ready to check out of school mode."
At this point, the buses have almost arrived. Kim and her cooperating teachers get the students ready to go home. Between getting bus tags ready, finding the right backpacks, and passing out folders, this busy time-block is important.
Kim explains, "My cooperating teacher has taught me that the most important thing in Kindergarten teaching is that everyone goes back to where they are supposed to be by the end of the day!"
New Preparations Begin
"Once every student is sent off to where they are supposed to be," Kim says, "my job as the teacher is done for the day. Then I switch to preparation mode." She cleans up and organizes files, bringing things to grade, cut, or prep home to finish.
Recharging for Another Day
Kim says, "Another thing I learned about myself is that I need at least a few hours afterschool to workout, call home, hangout with friends, watch video clips, and eat my soul foods … Sleep is another crucial thing for student teachers. I learned that it is all about balance!"
Preparing for the Future
Looking forward to her next student-teaching experience, Kim says, "God has great things planned ahead for me as He had all my life. I am going to learn so much. It is not going to be easy, but I do believe He has equipped me for this all along and will teach me on the way."