Students experience teaching

Student teachers at Missouri Southern are taking advantage of their major’s requirement to experience the classroom from the other side of the desks.

Katie Lee, senior art education major, and Amanda Ince, senior middle school math and science education major, are just two of Southern’s student teachers. According to Lee, the program is set up well with the junior block providing the “guts” of student teaching.

“My favorite part about student teaching is just the range of students I see in a day,” Lee said. “It just keeps you on your toes.”

Lee teaches art at College Heights Christian School and said she loves the flexibility the school allows with her subject. She said with time, the stress level will go down, but until then she’s going to “roll with the punches.”

A couple of her students have been giving her trouble, but it hasn’t fazed her.

“They’re super cute, and when you try to discipline them you just can’t help but laugh at the situations,” she said.

Ince said her favorite part of student teaching is the enthusiasm felt within the classroom.

“I really like when the students are getting it, and they’re asking questions and they’re really getting involved and they want to know more – that’s my favorite part,” Ince said. “It’s that point in time when they’re interested and they want to know more, and it’s not so much about the grades when they actually like the material.”

When problems arise with a student, Ince said the main focus should be on the understanding of the behavior, not the behavior itself.

“Middle school kids are definitely rough. I really have an understanding as to why they are the way they are, I think that’s important,” she said. “Because in middle school you are going through the biggest change of your life that you will ever go through, it’s just short of menopause for women, it’s that crazy.”

Lee said she admired her fellow student teacher in her attempts to face the young students through their awkward stage of life. Lee’s experience with the middle school age group put confusion between her and her students.

“I think some of the high school upper level classes are finding it difficult to see me as their teacher since I’m so close to their age, they start to forget sometimes that I’m their teacher,” Lee said. “You’ve got to give [Ince] another grain of salt because it takes a special person to want to teach middle school.”

On the other hand, Ince commends Lee for her gift of working with young children. Ince said teaching in itself was not for everyone.

“It takes a special kind of person to teach at all, you have to have an outgoing personality and that willingness to be open to share,” she said.

Both Ince and Lee said their interaction with the rest of the faculty is healthy. Experienced teachers who the young student teachers never come into contact with during the day, stop by and make them feel welcomed. Lee said her presence reminded them of their first encounter with teaching.

“The other faculty members are great,” Lee said. “I love my cooperating teacher. Her goal is to help me help [the students] to know what to do and help me to have a good experience.”

Even when the assigned teacher’s personality differs from the student teacher’s, Ince said it makes little difference.

“I think being an adult gets you past conflicting personalities,” she said. “You can say ‘OK we’re different’ and move past it, and just take constructive criticism and move on.”

According to Ince, the students should be the reason why the teachers are there.

“You have to keep reinforcing the fact that they are smart and that they are worth it, and it’s not “stupid” and they can do it,” she said.

Lee said she enjoys the creativity her students share with her in the classroom.

“You never get bored with the projects and what you’re doing,” she said. “It’s a learning experience and I love the kids. “