by Amanda Nelson
As a college freshman, Julia Janecek knew she wanted to become a teacher, but was nervous about managing a classroom. She just completed her student-teaching at Athens Chilesburg Elementary and says the teacher preparation program at the University of Kentucky College of Education has built up her skills through each class she’s taken.
“As a freshman I remember thinking how scary student-teaching sounded,” the Paducah-native said. “However, once you get to the point where you student-teach you are well prepared to teach a class. The classes and supervisors do a great job of providing you with resources to become a successful teacher.”
Recently, all but about 30 of the 5th graders at Janecek’s school went on a field trip to Washington D.C. She and two other UK student-teachers, Lindsay Lash and Taylor Forrest, decided to partner on a thematic unit about the nation’s capital so the students staying behind would be learning the same material as the students in Washington, D.C.
“We wanted these students to feel like they were in Washington, D.C. so providing them with centers, hands-on activities and technology really drew the kids into the lessons,” Janecek said. “The students responded wonderfully and were actively engaged in the lessons. Based on our pre- and post-assessments, the students’ knowledge of the material improved tremendously.”
Karen Miracle, one of the supervising teachers at Athens Chilesburg Elementary, said it was obvious the student-teachers put a lot of time, thought and professionalism into their plans.
“They did so well handling the ‘controlled chaos’ of each of them trying to teach at once,” Miracle said. “Not one of them was trying to teach over the other and they were considerate of each other’s plans. I was so impressed with their behavior management as well, with the switching of units and handing off of responsibilities in teaching. The students responded well because all three student teachers were so consistent in their expectations.”
Janecek says the most rewarding experience of being a teacher is seeing the children grow and learn.
“When you finally see an idea “click” for a student it is such a wonderful and heart-warming feeling to know that you have helped the student in his or her education. While teachers normally teach the students, you will come across times where the students teach the teacher. Sometimes our students will show and tell us things that make us want to become an even better teacher for them.”
She completed her degree in Elementary Education this spring, and plans to enter the teaching profession and complete the Kentucky Teacher Internship Program (KTIP). It’s a transition for which she feels well-prepared.
“The strategies I have learned through UK and my experiences in the classroom have molded me into the student-teacher I am today,” she said. “Without the classes at UK, I would not have nearly as many strategies with lessons and behavior management as I do.”
To learn more about the UK College of Education’s Elementary Education program, visit education.uky.edu/edc/elementary-education/