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Student Spotlights

Caitlin: French

Caitlin Ellis is a French major who had the opportunity to teach her own class at Selnate. Did she enjoy this experience? Oui!

What was your experience?

I taught my own class on Mondays and Wednesdays. It was a high-beginning vocabulary class. For this class, I came up with detailed and useful lesson plans for these days that included engaging activities. My goal was to get students involved in the learning process, learn new vocabulary, and be excited for the time at Selnate. I also was a TA on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the school-wide culture class. This class involved preparing discussions, organizing field trips, and keeping a large group of students focused on the class and the teacher.

What was the most useful thing you learned?

I learned how to run my own classroom. This was my first time teaching on my own. I had to adjust to different learning styles, time constraints, and locations. I also learned how I manage a classroom, how teacher/student interaction works for me, and who I really am as a teacher.

I learned a lot about working with administration and other teachers. Selnate is small and requires everyone to help out and do their part. My courses prepared me for the daunting task of planning for daily lessons, weekly goals, and semester goals. They helped me feel prepared so that when I walked in to teach my first class, I already felt like I kind of knew what I was doing. This confidence helped me learn from my experience more by letting me know that I had the background knowledge necessary to be successful, I just needed to put it all into practice in a way that worked best for me and my students. Intention: Before I started the semester, I worked with the Director and Assistant Director of Selnate to get an idea of the class that I would be teaching. I then worked to set goals and think of ways that I could do what they asked me to the best of my ability.

I referred back to notes and activities from my undergrad to guide me as I planned lessons and activities. I remembered the importance of student talk, and I used that as a foundation for my class. I wanted them to talk and work together to discover their own learning.

I would take time at the end of the week to reflect and think about how the week went. Occasionally, I would think about things at the end of classes. I wrote down activities that worked, and I wrote down activities that needed modification. I understand that teaching is a lot of trial and error, but the way for it to be successful trial and error, is to notice the errors and fix them before they happen again.

Would you recommend this experience to other students?

Yes! It is a fun internship. Working in a small school makes you feel like you matter because you are as important as the other teachers. It is easy to get to know other teachers, administrators, and the owner because you are all constantly working with or near each other. I felt like they cared about my success and wanted to help me be successful.

Caitlin Ellis with her French students.