Taste of Another School

Joanna Leski, Reporter

In order to gain more knowledge about how excellent teachers can change the environment of a whole school, Jennifer Maldonado’s “Taste of Teaching” class visited National Teacher’s Academy, a Chicago Public School.

All students in the Taste of Teaching curriculum get their “taste” of teaching by visiting the community grade schools, such as North School, Pietrini, and Hester and teaching a class of their choice for one period, 4 days a week. “To expand the knowledge my students have of creating a certain type of classroom, I began to look for something a little far out and very different from what my students are experiencing around here. They do learn something every day at our community grade schools, but an important take-away from the ‘Taste of Teaching’ classes is learning that every classroom, every school, every district will have different goals, missions, and will be composed of a different community. This is why I thought taking my students to the National Teacher’s Academy in Chicago would be an excellent opportunity that would help my students grow as teachers as they learn about how connecting with your students makes an impact on the school as whole.” Maldonado explained.

The Taste of Teaching Students got to tour the whole school and see how the staff of NTA works to create such a positive environment. College signs could be found hanging in every hallway; even the kindergarten hallway, encouraging students to think about their future very early. The art hanging around the school helped showcase the creativity of the students and their teachers. Taste of Teaching students got to see how using technology such as iPads, Chromebooks, and Tablets works in a grade school setting. “My favorite part was seeing the big pool the students get in everyday. Lifeguards are hired for the lessons and it was interesting to see that the students get one on one help even in a class like physical education,” Brianna Gibson said

Then, they spent the rest of their day at NTA learning how to create a warm, kind, fun, and enjoyable school environment with a positive morale. First, students were assigned to a classroom where they were able to interact with both the students and the teacher.

“Even from my first step inside the classroom, I was surprised with the good manners the students had. Everyone listened to the teachers, waited their turns, and shared with their peers. The students were very outgoing and friendly, but I could also see that these kids are very bright and were challenging themselves even when they weren’t asked to do so. The teachers were challenging themselves as well,” Senior Najera Veljkovic confessed. “The teacher I shadowed for a period was teaching a second grade class, and he was already planning what their goals by fifth grade would be.” While some students go into senior year of high school and have never thought about college while the students at NTA are encouraged to start thinking about college as early as kindergarten.

After shadowing in the classroom, the Taste of Teaching students met up with a panel of NTA staff. The NTA staff and Taste of Teaching class reflected on their experiences, listened to some stories from the staff, and received advice and pointers about becoming a teacher.

“Talking to the staff made me realize how much hard work was put into to create the positive environment at NTA. These weren’t just people coming to work to get a paycheck, all the teachers had connections with their students and knew things about them. I could tell that teaching and making a change was not just their career, it is their life.” Senior Paulina Kuzak shared.

The most important thing Mrs. Maldonado wanted students to take away was learning how create positive relationships by seeing the relationships NTA teachers have with their students. They didn’t only know their name, they knew something about students. A positive environment is created when everyone has a strong connection with one another,” Maldonado expressed.

The students and Mrs. Maldonado are planning to go at least on one more field trip this year where they will shadow a teacher for the whole day, not just one period, to learn more about the behind the scenes experiences of being a teacher. Everyone is already looking forward to the next field trip as the first one was definitely a success!

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