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Nurturing Budding Educators: A Student Teacher's Journey

Nurturing Budding Educators: A Student Teacher's Journey

"If a child can't learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn."

This inspiring quote from Ignacio Estrada encapsulates the philosophy driving junior Hallie Hartung’s weekly field experiences as part of her Academy Experience at Meadowlawn Intermediate.

As an aspiring elementary educator, Hallie gains hands-on practice through classroom immersion. Rather than just observing from the back, she leads small groups, assists struggling learners, and facilitates stations. This active involvement provides an invaluable window into the realities of teaching.

“I shadow Mrs. (Krista) Hartung in the 3rd grade,” Hallie said. “The main goal of my visits each week is to make sure that I am growing as a student teacher. I want to make sure that I am learning new classroom management skills and how to handle each situation."

Consistent time nurturing students and collaborating with veteran teachers helps convert theoretical concepts into practical applications.

Initially expecting a more passive observer role, Hallie has been pleasantly surprised by the interactive nature.

“I thought that I was just going to be sitting in the back of the classroom watching Mrs. Hartung teach her class, but I am actually interacting with the students,” she said. Leading groups and building connections make the learning stick.

Witnessing the genuine kindness students display through Student of the Week affirmations has been incredibly heartwarming.

“The things that the students say about their classmates are so genuine," Hallie said. "They are all so kind to each other, and it really makes my heart melt. It is one of those moments where you think to yourself ‘This is what I want to do with my life’.”

Seeing positivity blossoming in the classroom environment reaffirms her passion. But, navigating student perceptions posed an initial obstacle.

“Some challenges that I encountered were when I first started going, the students mostly viewed me as their friend,” Hallie said. However, observing responses from different adults enabled growth. “I learned quickly that some students just simply act like that to every adult in the room.”

This helped Hallie develop confidence in managing student dynamics.

Direct classroom exposure makes theoretical concepts tangible.

“In my introduction to education class, we learned about the different multiple intelligences and how each person learns differently. I have been able to see how the teacher uses different multiple intelligences in her classroom,” Hallie said.

Bridging theory and practice paves the way for impactful and engaging instructional approaches.

For mentor Mrs. Hartung, this is not the first time she has welcomed a PHS student into her classroom. However, this one was extra special – Hallie is her daughter. When asked about this, Mrs. Hartung said, “I love having PHS students in our classrooms and I love watching them build connections with students as they learn about the field of teaching. Every Academy Experience I have been a part of has been a positive one.

"I wasn't quite sure what to expect having my daughter come to our classroom, but she has made me so proud. Hallie does an incredible job when she comes into our classroom. The kids know what day she comes, and they look forward to being able to work with her. Hallie naturally jumps right into whatever lesson is being taught. She works one-on-one with students who need extra help, and she works with small groups during our centers. She has a really special way of interacting with kids, and she makes each of them feel special and important. She is already making a difference in the lives of kids, and I am excited to see what the future holds for her."

For peers preparing for their career-exploration journeys, Hallie emphasizes embracing opportunities to grow provided by Academy Experience.

“I would encourage the students to take this opportunity and learn as much as they can,” she said. Pushing comfort zones and building connections can lead to unexpected revelations. By diving wholeheartedly into field site environments, the next generation gains tools and insight to plan their futures.

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