Student teachers instruct children in math, foreign language skills

Mackenzie Farquhar
Submitted Photo by Mackenzie Farquhar

Each year at Union, seniors in the education department take on the role of “teacher” in addition to maintaining their student status.

Andey Archer, senior math major, is currently teaching seventh- and eighth-grade math at Medina Middle School.

Archer plans to attend graduate school after graduating in May, but she hopes to teach secondary or post-secondary in the future.

Until she took AP Calculus her senior year of high school, she said she wanted to be an engineer.

“I just couldn’t picture myself doing engineering every day of my life,” she said.

Her AP Calculus teacher in high school was a significant influence on this career choice.

“I love math, and I love working with kids … the more I thought about it, the more it felt right,” Archer said.

It can be difficult for Archer to work around the 7:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. schedule every day.

“I can’t run to Kroger or take a nap or grab lunch with friends … everything you do has to be done after 3:15,” Archer said.

She added teaching is harder than initially expected, too.

“I’m in school all day and then the lesson planning and grading happens after school. It’s like working two jobs,” she said.

The experience ultimately depends on the students, how much they like to have fun and engage in the lessons.

“It’s fun to see the kids have fun and learn at the same time,” Archer said. “A few of them have told me that they don’t normally have fun in math, so I enjoy being a part of that.”

Lesson plans are the most difficult part of student teaching, she said.

“For each lesson I teach, they are really comprehensive, so it takes a lot of time,” Archer said.

For Archer, math is a true passion.

“I just really love math. Math works differently than other subjects in that it’s accurate and precise, and I see a lot of beauty in that,” she said. “The more I study it, the more I see it point back to God. It’s exciting that this passion of mine can also bring me closer to God.”

Mackenzie Farquhar, senior teaching English as a second language major, is leaving mid-March for Bucharest, Romania where she will teach Chinese and Korean to elementary and high school students for an international school called Bucharest Christian Academy.

“The cool thing about teaching language is the way the brain works, you don’t have to speak the other person’s language in order to teach,” she said. “It’s a lot of pictures and hand motions and video clips in the beginning.”

Farquhar is teaching first, second- and fifth-grade students in Jackson at Thelma Barker Elementary School.

Mackenzie Farquhar
Submitted Photo by Mackenzie Farquhar, who is pictured at left. Farquhar is a Union senior  majoring in teaching English as a second language.

She eventually wants to teach elementary school but will be licensed to teach pre-K through twelfth grade.

Farquhar said she hopes to get a job at an Indian reservation in Washington where she participated in an internship with a ministry last summer. If that does not work out, she at least wants to move out West, she said.

“I haven’t always wanted to be a teacher,” Farquhar said. “I’ve grown up always wanting to do missions, and when I got to senior year of high school I knew I needed to choose a major. Teaching is a good route; it’s easy to travel and find a job. Especially with ESL, English is in high demand in a lot of countries.”

Farquhar said she also enjoys the social work aspect of teaching ESL.

Along with teaching a language, she is able to “teach social skills and minister to a whole community that’s usually overlooked by the school system.”

Student teaching is different from the typical college experience.

“I’m not on campus as much as I used to be. I get up a lot earlier than most college students. School ends at 3, and then I start preparing for the next day,” she said. “It just kind of never ends. You’re still a student, but you’re kind of being thrown into the grown up world … it’s an odd balance.”

Farquhar also has an interesting time coming up with lesson plans.

“They are so time-consuming, but they’re also a good thing because it really makes you think through what you’re going to teach,” she said.

Managing 16 first- and second-graders in one classroom at a time can “get a little crazy.”

However, Farquhar feels that she has gained confidence in teaching and learned strategies for teaching in different ways.

“In ESL you can have a student who got here a month ago and doesn’t speak any English, and then you can have a kid who’s about to test out of the system and is almost at grade level,” she said. “So learning how to meet the needs of the students has been a big challenge, but I’m definitely learning more fun and interactive ways to do that.

“Working with ESL students and getting to know them in their communities is really fun. And all the different cultural aspects … we have kids from South America, Central America, the Congo area, and some Arabic and Chinese speaking students.

“So we literally have students from all over the world, and it’s really cool just to bring all of their cultures together in the classroom and teaching American culture but also honoring their cultures and learning to celebrate them.”

Image courtesy of Cardinal & Cream|Cardinal & Cream
About Danica Smithwick 41 Articles
Danica Smithwick, class of 2016 journalism alumna, is former Editor-in-Chief of the Cardinal & Cream. She is now a reporter for Community Impact Cy-Fair in Houston, TX. Follow her on Twitter: @danicasmithwick.