Saint Mary’s senior education majors transition into student teaching
Gina Twardosz | Thursday, January 18, 2018
Senior education majors at Saint Mary’s are beginning their transition into student teaching this week. The students will begin teaching at local elementary and secondary schools and will work on their portfolios, lesson plans and testing.
Maeve Sullivan is an elementary education major with a minor in mild intervention which, she said, consists of “helping students who have mild cognitive or physical disabilities.”
“Education is becoming more inclusive to those who are cognitively and physically disabled, and mild intervention is why I got into education,” she said. “Indiana has mild, moderate and severe categories of [educational] intervention.”
Samantha Allen said she has always wanted to be a teacher and is glad to be teaching kindergarten this semester.
“I really enjoy having students learn how to tie their shoes,” she said. “It’s such a small thing that people don’t realize they learned at one point, and the students feel so overwhelmed at the beginning — to the point of tears — and it’s so sad but a little bit funny. I teach them the steps, and then we go over the steps each time — shoes come untied every five minutes, so there’s always a learning opportunity. It’s truly the joy of my day. They know I’m the teacher who will call them out on their shoe-tying.”
Allen said most students began teaching Tuesday.
“I have eight full weeks in a general classroom and then seven weeks in an English-as-a-second-language classroom,” she said.
Although she initially came to Saint Mary’s to be a nursing major, Sullivan said she easily made the switch to education, as the two have similar philosophies.
“Nursing and education really bring in people who serve others and want to make a difference in the lives of others,” she said. “I’m Catholic, so serving others has been a huge driving force for me.”
Sullivan said their semester began with a seminar discussing the transition, including the necessary exams and portfolios.
“We had an introduction into our portfolios, which are where we compile student work and lesson plans from different content areas,” she said. “They’re a huge part of the student teaching process.”
Education majors have regular assessments that consist of testing and teaching lessons to the students, Allen said.
“We have to do an assessment cycle where we have to give a pretest and then teach a lesson and then give another test until we give them a final test,” she said. “That’s the minimum requirement.”
Saint Mary’s has given Sullivan the opportunity to encounter real-life experiences as a teacher, she said.
“Saint Mary’s has put me in so many different types of schools with different types of students and in different areas of South Bend,” she said. “They’ve really allowed us to come into contact with some of the things we’ll see as teachers so that we’ll have already learned how to respond to them.”
Allen said the College expects the best from its education majors.
“Saint Mary’s is very extensive about what they require of education majors in order to best prepare us,” she said. “In the moment, it seems very overwhelming, but they’re so supportive and encouraging. They want the best for you, and they expect the best from you.”
Sullivan is worried her penchant for perfection will cause her to overestimate and exhaust herself, she said.
“I’m a perfectionist, so a fear of mine is knowing you can only do so much on your end as a teacher,” she said. “One has to understand that there is human limitation — there’s only so much you can do as a teacher. You have to teach and they have to learn, and that child’s future is literally in your hands.”
Allen’s goal is to create a productive and healthy classroom environment, she said.
“I’m working on classroom management, which is learning how to best de-escalate any situation or how to be the one in charge but still have fun and have students enjoy learning,” she said.
Allen said she hopes those who want to become teachers are passionate about teaching and are not just teaching as a backup plan.
“I think people who feel a passion towards education and lifelong learning are people who would really benefit from going into education,” she said. “I hope that people teach from a place of love and not from a place of desperation.”
Sullivan said her goal for the semester is to get to know her class personally and academically.
“I’ve gotten all the tools from Saint Mary’s, so I’m excited to see what I can do and also surprise myself a little, too,” she said.