Upon entering Penn State's very large student population, I had my own dreams and aspirations for my future career. I had no idea where my education would take me! 3/12 years later, I would find myself at Penns Manor High School beginning my student teaching internship.
My student teaching experience was filled with challenges, barriers, roadblocks, complications, difficulties, late nights, and long weekends, but also excitement, energy, enthusiasm, traveling, accomplishments, success and so much more! It was an incredible experience and one that I most certainly would do again and again. It was a huge relief to be able to finally apply all the methods, strategies and theories that have been discussed for the last 3 1/2 years in educational courses.
The experience I had was a very unique one. I spent the first half of my internship at Penns Manor High School in rural Clymer, PA. I had the honor and privilege of teaching 5 different classes. The second half of my student teaching internship was at Mopan Technical High School in Belize. Yup! That's right. I said Belize! At Mopan Technical High School I taught four different classes.
My experiences at the two schools were completely different and both very rewarding. At Penns Manor, I learned a lot about using a wide variety of teaching strategies, adapting my lessons to fit the needs of IEP students and classroom structure. You can see the picture on the right where my students and I all went through the cheese making process. Their faces have a somewhat disgusted look because they thought the cheese curds and whey smelled bad.
At Mopan Technical, while I still needed to utilize teaching strategies that were engaging, I had to focus more on breaking down barriers in my communication and connection with my students in Belize. Some of these issues were derived simply from the fact that I was a foreigner, others from the fact that I didn't know their backgrounds and the rest were cultural differences. Teaching at Mopan Technical High School proved to be significantly more challenging yet significantly more rewarding. This international experience gave me a level of confidence in my abilities to teach that I don't think I could have gained any where else. I was able to break down some of the barriers I had with students. I was able to overcome the challenges I had at Mopan Technical. I realized.
As I discovered, the classrooms, the materials, the supplies, the environment, and the weather were all drastic changes from Penns Manor. However, I would not trade this experience for the world! It was worth every struggle along the way! The picture to the left depicts my 4th Form (Seniors) who were studying poultry reproduction. We went over egg structure and discussed why the eggs have dome-shaped ends. They thoroughly enjoyed a more engaging lab activity.