Effective Teachers Wear Cardigans

Welcome to EIP

Hey seniors!

Welcome back to North, and welcome to EIP! Last spring during enrollment, you made the brilliant choices of putting down Education Internship Program. Right now, most of you probably don't know what that is, or what the class will involve. Some of you might have read through the smore Mrs. T put together, or gone onto our class blog. Others of you may have just signed up for the class to get to leave school everyday, and think you'll just be playing with little kids for the rest of the year. Many of you are probably here because Mrs. Taylor scouted you out, and convinced you to take it. Am I close? I was most of the above when I first sat down last August; I had no idea what was ahead. There were so many times, especially that first month, while I was working in my class that I wished someone had told me what to expect, or even what to do. To help you not feel as overwhelmed, here is my top 10 list to help ease you into the EIP life.

Maintain an open and respectful relationship with your teacher

Sooner then you think, you're going to be emailing your teacher and doing classroom observations for the first time. As you prepare to go out there, you need to think of EIP like a job. You’re expected to show up when you say you’re going to, and clearly communicate when you can’t. Your teacher will rely on you, and may even come to plan lessons with you in mind. If you have a question or don’t know what to do: ask! If you want to help, but don’t know how: ask! Most of these teachers have guests in their classroom a lot, and are helpful and kind.

Ask yourself what you can bring to the classroom

Chances are, your teacher has worked with an EIP student, or at least an A+, tutor before. Many have come before you, and many will (hopefully) come after you. What do you have that you can use to make your class better? Each one of you has a unique set of skills and experience you bring to the table. Are you an athlete? Organize games, or even a tournament, at recess. That will quickly build relationships with your students, which will help you later on in the classroom. Are you interested in science? Ask your teacher if you can be more involved in that portion of the day. You’ll be surprised how much they’re willing to let you take on if you just ask. Which brings me to my next point…

Use initiative!

This is a huge one, and the major difference from A+ Tutoring. You are there to be an active member of the classroom. Don’t sit at a desk, or stand in the corner of the room. Walk around the classroom, help students who are struggling. Ask your teacher what you can do to help. Regardless of what kind of classroom you’re in, your list of tasks will be never ending. You’ll have a diverse array of students who all learn in different ways. You may be working with students in groups one day, and one on one another. The more you work with the students, the more they know they can come to you for help, and the better experience it will be for all of you.

Come ready for anything- both inside the classroom and out.

Some of the craziest stories of mine come from my classroom. If you have the blessing/ curse of eating lunch or going to recess with your kids: watch out. Kids have no filter, and their minds work in clever ways. During lunch one day in December, two students got into a screaming match over the existence of Santa. Another day, two boys were throwing cherry tomatoes at one another when one burst opening, showering the entire table- me included- with tomato juice, guts, and seeds. You never know what’s going to happen, and you have to be prepared. Being a teacher really is one big improv show: you can imagine every scenario, but most of it is just gut instinct.

In your classroom, you are a teacher...

The moment you walk through that door, you are no longer Maddy or Ben or Lindsey. You are Miss Maddy, Mr. Ben, and Miss Lindsey, all knowing adult. A huge part of succeeding in your classroom as a teacher is other’s perception of you. That means you have to talk like a teacher, walk like a teacher, and look like a teacher. Don’t use stupid teenage slang like “lit”: walk with purpose, and look professional. Now, I’m not saying wear a pencil skirt every day, or talk like you swallowed a thesaurus. Think about your high school teachers: they look like you and talk like you, only more polished. The same goes for your classroom. If your students don’t respect you as a teacher, every moment you work with them will be a struggle. To learn from you, they have to respect and trust you.

...except you’re not.

However, in some classrooms the reality is that most of your students will never truly treat you like a teacher. Face that fact early on, and the rest of the year is much easier. Try not to order them around, because odds are they won't listen. As a teenager, it's difficult to command the same authority as your teacher does. Leave the discipline to your teacher, and instead focus on helping them with their learning.

Believe in yourself the way they do

There will be times when you are totally lost, and you have to keep going forward anyway. This will be your first time ever working with this material, while your teacher has done it for year in and year out. For our math section of the day, my teacher has students work through packets of problems. At the end of the page, the student raises their hands to be checked. I have a list of answers, and if the answers in the packet don’t match the ones on my sheet I sit down and we look at the problem. I have to first read through the problem, work through it in my head, and then analyze what has gone wrong in the student’s work, all in a matter of seconds. My teacher, on the other hand, doesn’t even need the answer key: she has them all memorized. You have to fake it till you make it, and even then you may not get it right. That’s ok! Keep going!

Do the assignments Mrs. T gives, and think about why she’s giving them

Mrs. T never gives busy work. Every assignment you do this year will connect to something. Put thought and effort into your assignments, and consider how you can use them for your classroom. Some of you may be under the impression EIP means going to elementary classrooms and playing with little kids for a few hours every day. If this is so, it’s time to readjust your expectations, and quickly. You’ll be doing monthly article analyses, along with a book study, and a classroom comparison project. And that’s just first semester. Now, before you run off to get a drop slip in the counseling office, hear me out: it isn’t hard. The material is never difficult; don’t confuse that with it being thoughtless, though. Each assignment requires careful thought, but if you work efficiently it will never take you great sums of time. Best of all, their sole purpose is to help you in your classroom. The coolest part, though, is they will change the way you view education. The classroom comparison project was my favorite thing we did all year, and I learned a lot from it.

Cherish every moment with those amazing littles

The bond you form with those kids will astound you. The first four hours of my day include College Comp, AP Psych, AP Physics II, and Calc BC. I came back in the afternoon to take AP Chem during seventh hour. There were some days where I had pulled an all nighter to finish a paper that was due, and I was so tired I could barely see straight. Others, I would be so stressed I was on the verge of tears all morning. The moment I checked out and started to drive towards my placement, all my worries and fears dropped away. Walking into my placement I felt so incredibly happy. Seeing my kids's smiling faces and hearing them shout “Miss Emma!” when I walk through the door is the only part of my day I really looked forward to. In your classroom, you’ll feel a sense of confidence and self-empowerment. You are important to these kids: you are making a difference in their lives.

In Conclusion

Being in EIP is a joy and a privilege. Give your all, every single day that you’re there, and cherish every memory you make with your students and your teacher. The possibilities are limitless when it comes to this class and the opportunities it presents. You aren’t sitting behind a desk taking notes anymore: this is the real deal. The actions you make have real impact, and real consequences. Take it seriously, and enjoy every moment of it. All too soon, it’ll be May and you too will be writing letters to future you’s instead of doing your chemistry homework.