I was fortunate enough to spend the last 14 weeks student teaching at Athens Area High School, located in Athens, PA with Mr. David Steinfelt. I am originally from Chambersburg, PA, where I grew up on a family owned dairy farm. My move to Athens put me as close to the New York border as Chambersburg is to the Maryland border! Through my time at Athens, I not only learned to love the Northern Tier way of life, but I also learned to love my profession.
When I first arrived at Athens, I planned to teach 14 units of instruction in classes ranging from Leadership to Agricultural Mechanics. However, due to a large number of snow days, I was only able to make it through 9 units of instruction. I quickly learned that it important to have a plan, but it is equally important to be flexible and willing to go with every curve that comes at you! As I was preparing for my time at Athens, I became very nervous. I was far from an expert in any of the units that I was preparing to teach! However, looking back, I am grateful for this challenge! Even though I had to put in more effort in educating myself before I could teach the students, I believe that I gained a lot more from the experience!
Throughout this experience, I truly learned the importance of learning by doing. There is no better way to teach students than to get them actually involved in the process. I challenged myself from the beginning to accomplish this style of learning as much as possible. I believe that I still have a lot to learn, but I was able to get a good grasp with my students as we worked through projects in the shop, greenhouse, and classroom. I was pleased to hear from students that they really enjoyed the hands on activities that were brought into their learning experience!
I was fortunate enough to have a great mentor to encourage me when I needed it, advise me when things weren't going to great and I couldn't figure out why, but most importantly, give me the space to truly make the experience everything and anything I wanted it to be. Looking back, I honestly cannot think of a program that I would have been better suited for. As a result of such a smooth placement, I believe that I was able to really maximize every opportunity presented to me! There is nothing more important with a student teacher placement than ensuring that the student teacher and cooperating teacher are a good match. Fourteen weeks goes by fast, but I would imagine that it goes a whole lot smoother when you are able to communicate smoothly and effectively!
Now, for the most important part of my experience....the students! Teachers could not do what they do if they did not have a passion for the kids. Yes, sometimes they made me want to pull my hair out, but at the end of the day, I cared about every single one of them. It was hard at first for me to allow myself to get to know the students. I have always had a hard time saying goodbye, so I figured it might be easier if I didn't get too attached, knowing that my time there was only going to be temporary. That was a really thoughtless plan. Looking back, my one regret is waiting to really interact with the students. Though my time with them was limited, they greatly impacted my life. Every student matters. Every day. Every student has value. Every educator knows that. Every student will also impact the future of our world in some way. I want to do my part to ensure that they leave a positive impact. My time at Athens has helped me greatly in preparing to do just that4