Class offers hands-on experience, prepares students for future careers

Jansen Hess, Sports Editor

Teacher Practicum is a class offered at Blue Valley which exposes students to real-life teaching situations, teaching strategies and hands-on experiences in a classroom.
Junior Savannah Spicer said the class teaches her the behind-the-scenes aspects that come with being a teacher.
“Teacher Practicum is a class that basically shows you what a teacher does every day and how they do it and different strategies different teachers have,” she said. “You get to not only do all the class projects and learn about it in class, but you also get to go to field sites and stay with the teacher for a pretty long period of time. You can move around to different grades or different schools and see how teachers present the curriculum to their class and different strategies teachers use to effectively teach their students.”
Senior Tyler Randall wants to be a high school math teacher and said this class gives him the experience he needs to accomplish that goal.
“We spend one week at a time in the classroom at the building, and we learn about teaching, teaching styles and philosophies,” he said. “Then for the next two to four weeks, we go to a field site where we get to actually act like a teacher and teach the students for, like, an hour time frame.”
Teacher Practicum teacher Donna Dehart said the class will help the students get a head start on their teaching career.
“We’re the only high school that offers practicum, no other high school does, and it lets our students have hands-on experience if they want to go into education, and that’s the big thing,” she said. “That can help them save a lot of time and money in college. They can also take it for high school and college credit at the same time, and so it gives them a step ahead when they go to school. They will have all their labs done when they have to observe children and stuff like that.”
The class has two students from Blue Valley Southwest in the class this year. Dehart said she allows students to join the class, but Blue Valley’s students get the priority spots.
Spicer said she enrolled in the class so she can gain a better understanding of what subject and what grade she would like to teach.
She said the class is really beneficial for her because it will assist her in making that decision.
“I went into it having no idea what I wanted to teach, but I’ve known my whole life that I want to be a teacher,” she said. “So, the first week we all had to go to kindergarten. I loved the students, but the curriculum I could never do. So that was one already knocked out that I know I don’t want to be in, and that helps prepare me for what courses to take in college, so I don’t go in to college and take a bunch of education classes that I don’t know what to do, and I waste time. It helps you figure out better ways to spend your time when you are taking future courses.”
Randall said going to field sites is the biggest help because he has the opportunity to work with many different grade levels.
“Everyone starts off at kindergarten,” he said. “Then the second rotation, you move on the next level. So if you only want to teach third grade, you’d go to third grade. But since I want to teach freshmen, my next level would be fifth graders, then eighth grade, then I’ll get to freshmen.”
Randall said taking this class will help him discover if teaching is really for him before he gets to college.
He said he loves seeing the students and leaving an impression on them.
“I really like to see how eager the students are to learn and how much of an impact I’m really making,” Randall said. “They’re always excited to see me.”
Spicer also said she enjoys establishing relationships with both the teachers she works with and the students.
“It’s so much fun, and you feel like you’re a part of the big classroom family,” she said. “It’s fun just to have authority and just being able to have fun at the same time.”
This authority, Spicer said, is just one reason she wants to become a teacher.
“My grandpa was a teacher and my mom’s a teacher,” she said. “I think a big influence in my life is my mom and the things that she has taught me as both a mother and a teacher. She’s been a huge impact on me. So seeing how much she loves her job and how much it’s changed her life and my life makes me want to be able to do that for different students and for my family, too, when I’m older.”
Randall is the only male in Teacher Practicum this year, but he said he sees it as a benefit rather than a disadvantage.
“It really doesn’t bother me,” he said. “Most teachers are girls, so it gives me a different perspective. The girls are more comfortable around each other, so I can see how they think, and it just gives me a new perspective.”
Spicer said she enjoys having Randall in class because he provides comic relief.
“It’s funny,” she said. “I think he kind of lightens the mood and brings more out of us because we’re a very different group of people, and I think a lot of us wouldn’t normally bond in that class. [Randall] kind of lightens the mood and makes it funny and gives us something to laugh at. Me and [Randall] are really close, and he’s like my brother, so it’s fun having a class with him his senior year and getting to chill with him. Plus he gives me rides to field sites.”
Randall said the most memorable moment he’s experienced so far is when his kindergarten class threw him a goodbye party.
“They made me a little cake, and they all wrote me hand-written letters saying thank you,” he said. “They were kindergarteners, so you really couldn’t read it, but they all wrote, ‘Thank you, Mr. Randall,’ and drew little pictures.”
Spicer said she also has her fair share of cute moments.
“[When I was with the third graders], I got to go to the zoo with them, and that was super fun,” she said. “One of my third graders gave me an apple, and I felt like a real teacher. That was the moment where I was super proud. It’s kind of one of those stories for the books, you know? Like a teacher gets an apple. I felt kind of proud of it.”
Randall said he wants to inspire his future students the way his teachers have inspired him.
“Through my education, I’ve had really good teachers that have made an impact on me in school and out of school and have just made me a better person,” he said. “I want to give back to kids and, hopefully, one day be that teacher that makes an impact on their lives.”