On Wednesday, May 29, eight teachers gathered in Maryville College’s Anderson Hall to discuss teaching with this year’s student teachers. Students left feeling as if some questions had been answered, but were also left with plenty to think about.
The eight visiting teachers were each graduates from Maryville College who graduated in the past few years and came back to offer some insight to the upcoming teachers. Though each of them has had different experiences and taught different grades and subjects, they all offered something special to their students and to those in attendance.
As the night began, each of the visiting teachers offered their words of wisdom to those who would take it.
“Be that positive person that kids need,” graduate Julianna Bowman said.
Bowman explained something so important about teaching that may educators forget—the kids. It is not about the content or even the scores that are on paper, it is about being there for those children that need you most.
“I teach science second… and teach kids first,” said Jessica Minton, follows along the same lines.
Having positive role models in schools for kids to look up to is very important. This does not mean telling them what to do and when to do it, rather it is about helping them find the tools they need for success and offering support, for whatever it may be, along the way.
As each of the teachers took turns speaking, it became apparent that the message was the same: a positive role model and a positive attitude is what really matters to the kids that the student teachers will come across. The students are going to remember more how you made them feel than what you taught them.
Not only will kids remember how a teacher made them feel, but they will also remember the teacher’s willingness to adapt and overcome.
“I’m still learning, and that’s the best part of being a teacher,” Marc Fernandez explained.
As Fernandez was speaking, all heads nodded in agreement, expressing that that is the best part. They explained that you learn from your co-workers and you learn from experience, but you learn from the kids as well.
“The willingness to change and embrace that change is up to you,” explained Marcee Iler. There is no one way to teach. Many of the teachers cited the acts of adapting and overcoming as the most important aspect of teaching. No two kids are the same; no two kids will learn the same way. It is all about adapting and overcoming.
As the questions unfolded from the student teachers, the teachers were patient enough to answer and tell stories about their experience handling certain situations. One student teacher asked about the biggest challenge and obstacle that each teacher had overcome.
Many of the teachers discussed their first year teaching and the difficulties that came with it.
“You need a friend,” Libby Hess explained. “Have a mentor, even if it is cross-curriculum. You need that support and someone out there will give it to you.”
This statement resonated with many of the visiting teachers. So many people feel lost, confused and thrown out into the world to find their way with little to no guidance. Many students at MC are left with questions that they have with no one to answer them. Hess’s explanation assured all those who were listening that everyone needs someone, and that no first-year teacher will be alone.
No matter what topic each teacher discussed— the trials through which the job will put you, the hoops through which to jump or the obstacles to overcome—the discussion always came back to the kids. They are the reason the teacher is there— even the student teachers seemed to have felt that just through their experiences so far.
“Just don’t give up on them,” said Jarrod Pendergraft, explaining this further.
There is no way that teachers can know all that is happening outside of the classroom, but they can be supportive and never, ever give up on the students.
“Be real with them, “ Seanny Rogers said. “They understand that. They appreciate that, no matter what age they are. Show them that you are a human, too.”
Each and every one of the teachers that came to the panel told stories that made each person in that room laugh and even cry. The representation of teaching and what it truly means is so important as each student teacher enters his or her career. It is not all perfect and there is not always a right answer; however, more often than not, the answers lie within the faces that look back at you each day. The kids are the reason; the kids are the purpose.
Each teacher radiated the love and compassion for their students. It was easy to see the difference of how they felt when discussing the kids versus the job itself.
The kids are the reason why.