Sarah DeMar, a senior Pre-K- 4th grade Elementary Education major and Spanish minor, knew she was going to be a teacher since the second grade. With a light in her eyes Sarah describes “a passion for kids and teaching the next generation” as what initially drew her to enter the esteemed realm of educators. Almost to the finish line Sarah took a few moments to walk me through a day in the life of a student teacher, but also why Grove City College’s education department feels more like family than any other on campus.
Unlike Sarah there are those (myself included) who have very little idea what their future holds while either applying to schools or even walking across the stage to receive their diploma. One piece of advice Sarah has, especially for those contemplating education, is to just give it a shot. Right off the bat starting in October freshman year, students begin observations in local schools. Though actual teaching experience does not begin until the end of sophomore year, Sarah assured me that you can tell pretty quickly just based on observing a classroom if education is the place for you.
One aspect of the education program I wanted to uncover myself involves the whole process of certification, which seemed quite daunting to me. Sarah assured me that I was correct in that regard, but also noted several outstanding professors who walk education majors through every step in the process. Upon graduation education majors do not receive their certificates right away, but after hypothetical mountains of online paperwork and at least three exams, they finally receive an official certification typically in July.
So: student teaching. These two, small words carry a lot of weight behind them as they pretty much signify an education major’s first trial run at their future. No pressure though.
Student teachers have two placements: the first only a month long, and the second lasting the rest of the semester. Sarah’s current, second placement is a little unique in the fact that she teaches a “math lab” where students ranging from first to fifth grade come to her classroom instead of being placed in singular classroom. Where a student teacher is placed is dependent on which school and location the education professors believe each student will thrive. Furthermore each student teacher is not immediately thrown into teaching full time, but gradually works up to it so by the last week in the semester the student has complete autonomy in the classroom with little intervention from the teacher.
Typical Weekday for Student Teacher Sarah:
6:30 AM – Alarm goes off
7:00 AM – Out the door and driving to Mercer, PA
7:25 – 8:10 AM – Set up in the classroom, reviewing lesson plans for the day, talking with other teachers
8:10 AM – School starts!
Sarah has seven cycles of students including tutoring, and six classes that come in throughout the day.
2:45 PM – Students leave
3:15 PM – Leave Mercer for work in Volant
5:15 – Drive back to Grove City College
5:45 – Back at Grove City for dinner and prep for the next week’s lesson plans (due Friday)
One perk of student teaching, Sarah explained, is that besides a bit of lesson planning her weekends are practically free!
Sarah’s biggest piece of advice for those considering education as a profession is to take advantage of your advisers and use the wisdom they can provide! Even if you’re hesitant about the major, or the prospect of being a student teacher is mildly terrifying at times, through talking with various professors in the major and observing classes at local schools you’re able to figure out fairly quickly if this is to be your career path of choice. Finally, the education department serves as a family away from home. Sarah described that everyone – students and faculty alike – have each other’s backs. From day one freshman year education majors have all of their classes together and are treated to a vast curriculum library devoted solely to education majors. If an encouraging, family atmosphere with tremendous results is what you’re looking for in an education program, I would recommend pressing pause on your college search and heading over to Grove City College for a visit – it might just feel like coming home.
Want to find out more about student teaching at Grove City College? Visit the education page here!