Melissa Walters, from Milwaukee, is graduating with a dual major in special education and general education for first through eighth grade. She has had a life long dream of becoming a teacher. Her 18-week session is broken into two 9-week programs. Oliver Wendell Holmes Elementary for the first 9-weeks, and Bethune Academy for the second both in the Milwaukee Public School System.
During my first week of my placement, I’ve been given a wide variety of student teaching experiences. In working with the 21 students on our case load in math, writing and language, I get to interact with a variety of students from third through fifth grade.
Each of these experiences provide me with different insights in teaching. Throughout this blog, I’ll share the situations I encounter and how it made me a better learner, teacher and person. Many of the students, not only in my classes but throughout the whole school, struggle with reading. The insight gained from working with some of my students who aren’t able to read words like two, look, where, yellow, or on, is that after around second grade, students are no longer learning to read. They being reading to learn. They have to have the base skills of reading and comprehension to learn anything else in the curriculum. These students struggle so much to sound out the words that they can’t read, comprehend and respond. For students at this ability level, their classwork and assignments need to be modified to have less reading to ensure that for math, you’re testing their ability in math rather than their ability to read.
My second most influential moment from this first week has nothing to do with academics in the classroom. While interacting with students in such a low income area, you heard about hardships that you would have never imagined one young person having to overcome. After everything they have to go through, they have to come to school, clear their minds and learn seemingly pointless information. This led me to the realization that as a teacher, you need to realize when the student is more important than the information. When a student is ready to fight you after every word or hasn’t said a word all morning, it could be more important to be there for the student as a person rather than as a student.
As I reflect on my first week, learning the area, connecting with students and overcoming my fears, I keep words of one of my favorite UW-O teachers in mind…
“As a teacher, you don’t have to like your students but you do have to love them.”