New teachers gain real-life experience

By Jordan Norton

Sharing knowledge and understanding in a classroom is an ability not many possess. But those few who choose to teach and learn to use this tool change lives.

At Union, the goal of the education department is to mold and develop teachers who will not only be able to educate, but also have a positive impact on their lives.

One of the steps education majors must go through to graduate is a semester of student teaching. During this semester, they work as a full-time teacher at two schools in the area. The student teachers work alongside a veteran teacher at the school who can mentor and properly guide them during their transition from a student to a teacher.

“Student teaching is the most critical semester in the preparation of a teacher,” said Dottie Myatt, assistant dean for teacher education. “The old phrase ‘experience is the best teacher’ truly applies to student teaching.”

As student teaching begins, the life of a normal college student is quickly erased. Many of the students have had experience in the classroom before, but this is the first time they are working full-time as a teacher.

“At first, the transition from the college life to a consistent daily schedule was tough, but as I have gotten more involved in my student teaching it has become a normal routine,” said Jamie Evans, senior music education major, who student teaches 6th–12th grade at the University School of Jackson.

Most students agree their first days of student teaching experience are the most difficult, Myatt said.

“The first couple of days I looked at student-teaching as something I had to do to graduate, but after things weren’t going so well I began to remember what I had been taught here at Union. I had to begin to show the students I care for them and want them to succeed,” Evans said.

Once he was able to integrate philosophy into his teaching methods, Evans said everything started falling into place. He said he was able to develop a classroom strategy that worked for him, and this also allowed him to see the positive impact he is having on the students’ lives as they discover what his philosophy means through his strategy.

“Every day I face children whose faces light up when they see me in the morning time,” said Emilee Peery, who student teaches pre-kindergarten at Bells Elementary. “When I am tired and stressed about evaluations, teaching lessons and units, this little glimpse of encouragement guides me through the day.”

Myatt said, “I believe student teaching is the culminating experience of a student’s goal to become a teacher. We have provided them with the knowledge needed, but this is a wonderful opportunity to show the things they have learned and build on the knowledge they have already received.”

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The Cardinal & Cream is a student publication of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Our staff ranges from freshmen to seniors and includes a variety of majors — including journalism, public relations, advertising, marketing, digital media studies, graphic design and art majors.