Lilly Hasenkopf is a student teacher of elementary education at the University of Alabama. We recently sat down and talked about her thoughts and feelings about the profession as part of the series Why Would Anyone Want to Become a Teacher? here on educationrickshaw.com
Hi Lilly! Thanks for letting me interview you. Let’s start by talking about how your experience in education been so far. Tell me all about your program, and what you’ve been doing.
I’m going into my senior year of college at Alabama. My junior year last year, we entered block one and block two, which is our first introduction to teaching. In block one, which is in the fall, I was in a preschool classroom twice a week. I had two case study students that I would work with and monitor their physical and cognitive growth, and just how they grew over the course of one semester. This was the preschool class, but I also did a reading class, where I would go to a different school and work one-on-one with a student. We gave them a pre-test and then we created our own activities. We tested the results of the activity with a post-test.
I also took a music class, which was interesting. It started out with us just teaching music, but at the end we were teaching an academic subject through music. It helped us see how we can use physical activities like art and music to make the content more engaging for students. In Spring semester, that is when I really got to experience the classroom. We were assigned a class, and I was assigned a kindergarten classroom. Instead of just focusing on two students, we were focused on observing an entire class. We weren’t teaching it, but we were watching another teacher teach. Sometimes the teacher would exit for a bit, and I would have the kids for an hour, or I would take them to music, art, and PE. These little things were a nice experience, and helped me to learn how to teach the correct behaviors.
Have you enjoyed your experience so far with the students?
I have! I really enjoyed getting to know the students. My program has emphasized forming bonds and relationships with each individual student, and at first that really made me nervous. But by the end of the semester, I really knew the kids in my class, how they need to be redirected, where they struggled and where they’re strong. I learned that the behaviors that you have in your classroom, they need to be taught. Since this wasn’t my classroom, I had a bit of a different idea of how to do this. My cooperating teacher didn’t really have them do group work, so for one of my assignments I had the students work together in groups to put together one picture. It would get loud and a few kids got pretty upset, so halfway through we paused and broke down what was happening. We talked about how you can work together and communicate, and it doesn’t have to be your way all the time. I thought this was very important. You have to be able to work with others in the future, and since it was a new activity for them, it was harder and a bit louder, but I think it did teach them something new. If I had been able to start doing lessons like that back in August, they would know how to do these things by May.
What challenges have you faced so far?
Well, with kindergarteners I learned that teaching has to be fast paced and very engaging to keep them paying attention. I’ve seen that some teachers have wanted the students to sit a lot and pay attention. I think moving shouldn’t always require a punishment; they’re still young and need to move! When I have my own classroom I will make it so that the students are sitting still for shorter increments for certain activities.
Was there a particular moment that you’d like to share where you felt successful?
We did a case study where we had to see the growth of a student over the course of a semester. I liked that because I picked a student who is new to this classroom, and seemed to be getting into a lot of trouble. When I would work with him, he would do really well, and I realized he just likes to talk about himself. He would always get so excited about getting together with me to doing our planned activities, and I think that helped him. I made it so that he experienced something different during the days that he was with me.
Finally, I want to ask you the question that inspired this series. Why did you want to become a teacher?
I’ve always wanted to be a teacher since I was little. I would play school in my room for hours. I think part of the reason that it stayed with me is because of my teachers. Some of my teachers had a huge impact on my life. Helping me grow and become who I am. I want to do that for students. Students come to school for 7 hours a day just with one person. and that is a huge part of their life. A lot of kids don’t have the role model that I had from my parents and teachers. Just not to be the teacher that just gives out assignments, but a person that you can come to build their character and to be successful in the future. Even if you have that at home, it helps to have someone in elsewhere in your life that helps you to share your ideas and respects you and tells you that you can do what you think you can do. You can be successful.
Another reason is that I love helping people. When something finally clicks in someone’s brain, and seeing them get excited about it. When they get excited, I get excited, and it’s just fun. My mom is a teacher, and when I was in middle school and high school, I would go to work with her some days just to help around the classroom. I really liked that. I would rather go to work with her some days then go to school myself. It was more when I didn’t really like my teacher, I would go to work with her more. I didn’t just skip! But I really liked going down there to help her out.
When I tell people I am going to be a teacher, a lot of people are like “why would you do that?”
haha, I’ve heard that one before.
Some say it because of the low pay, or some say it because it’s just challenging with the kids. But I like challenges, and I feel like teaching is a rewarding challenge, not a punishment challenge where you’re being forced to do something and there is no positivity in it. But there’s a ton of positivity in teaching, through the kids. Really, honestly, I want to be a teacher for the kids.
Thank you for visiting educationrickshaw.com, and feel free to comment below on the titular question. Why did you become a teacher? What have your experiences been like so far? We love to hear your thoughts, and will always try to respond to your comments.