Elementary School taught me..

by: Caitlin Nelson

Where do I start... ?

When I first started intro to teaching, I was very nervous. Especially, when it came to knowing that I was going to have to get 10 hours of observation at an Elementary, Middle, and High School. Beginning here, at elementary, I learned a few things first and foremost. Be "electronically" professional when it comes to emailing the teacher and principal of the school you are observing at. Mr. Jennings, principal of Maize Central Elementary School, was very understanding and willing to let me observe at his school. I was professional when emailing him and he quickly responded with a nice response. After that, it came easy. After getting his permission I email the teacher I wanted to observe with and it all went from there.

Mrs. Millikan's Second Grade Class

Where do I even begin, this class.. these kids.. the teacher.. they were amazing! I learned so much when observing for those 10 hours in Mrs. Millikan's class.

Here are a few things I learned about keeping it all together:

  • use organizational tools in the room (including tubs, things on desks to put pencils, crayons, scissors, everything the students needs in)
  • organization is KEY
  • on the back of each students chair was a pouch type item that kept all their folders, papers & books
  • tables are set up so four students sit together
  • each person has a "corner buddy" who will be their partner for activities
  • As Mrs. Millikan did, write the day's schedule on the board

Here are a few things I learned about keeping their attention:

  • take breaks often.. these kids attention spans do not last long
  • do not just lecture, incorporate games, activities, anything to get them involved or even moving
  • use BRIGHT colors all around the room
  • utilize their bright minds and challenge them
  • Mrs. Millikan made her students do "stretch time" occasionally, which would get them up and stretch their arms and legs
  • Also, she would do "wiggle time" on days which is a dance they move along too (I will include a video of it down below)

Here are a few things I learned about helping them understand what their learning:

  • "Repeat please" was commonly used in the classroom, letting the kids know she would repeat it if they asked nicely helped ease their nerves
  • constantly asking if there are any questions or comments
  • walking around the room, checking their work and reassuring them that they will get it
  • reviewing what the learned the day before when starting a new concept
  • I learned that if they didn't understand what they learned the day before, they will not understand the new concepts

Most importantly, I learned that these are just second graders and it won't be easy all the time, but it will be worth it. It takes time and most importantly patience.

Mrs. Millikan's class doing the "wiggle" dance

A funny moment..

While I was watching them dance along to their wiggle dance, the kids were so excited and happy. When it was all done, one the students, Cameron says, "Can we do it again?!" So along with him all the kids started asking if they could dance to it again. She proceeded to think about it when Cameron says "It would be more fun if you let me and Tatum dance to the wiggle like we did the first time. She gave him this look, laughed, and said "you are not allowed to dance like that in my class." The whole class proceeded to laugh and at that moment I realized even though you are in class you can always have a funny moment.

Some good advice:

After everything I have learned, there are two things Mrs. Millikan personally told me. She told me this job is a "blessing, blessing blessing.. but it is more than a 40 hour per week job."