Learning Center students inevitably move on. Nothing pleases us more, however, than to have some of our former students find their way back to us as they begin to give serious consideration to becoming a teacher.
Angel, a former 4th-7th grade student, recently started work on our campus as a substitute teacher/classroom assistant. First, I heard one of our teachers exclaiming how fulfilling it was to walk into1st grade and see one of her former students working with students.
Soon, I had the opportunity to catch up with Angel on the campus.
Articulately and confidently she spoke of her hope to become an Early Education Teacher. I shared with her that several of our strongest teachers had initially started by working at The Learning Center as either a substitute or an assistant. I assured her the experience always moved the person closer to a best career decision.
For example, one might conclude that "teaching is not for me." For some, they were able to hone in on what developmental age appealed to them most, oftentimes, concluding that experience in the trenches made them realize they worked much more effectively with an age group they had never considered until working in a "real classroom" environment. Others saw that their first interests in teaching a certain age group remained strong as they worked alongside real students. That affirmation alone proved a powerful confidence builder for these future educators.
Angel shared that she often sees her younger self as she works with a student. She easily recalled her own learning style as she reflected on the diverse approaches to education and the awareness that what works for one student may not necessarily work for another. As a career educator, I was pleased with this young woman's developing insights. Such understanding is not guaranteed in the college classroom even as one hopefully gains the needed content and teaching skills.
Stephanie Hopper, Associate Academic Director, spoke strongly of the asset that Angel has become, in a very short time, on our campus. Her strong work ethic, her willingness to dive into the help that is needed are characteristics that have made a good impression.
This school year we have three such "returning" students. As I watch these life learners continue the process that started for each of them as students years back on our campus, I am pleased. Yes, pleased that these young life learners have entered our ranks alongside seasoned educators, that real learning is taking place in real classroom settings as Angel and others take in the invaluable opportunity to experience education front and center. It is my hope that some hard questions are being asked and some even harder answers are being explored in our incubator environment before a person commits to one of our society's most amazing callings: An EDUCATOR.
May the circle of future educators remain unbroken.