By Cori Agnoni, Secondary Education and English Major / ACH Clear Pathways and Community Writing Center Intern
“Oh, do you want to be a teacher because you have a free summer?” “Can’t you just show a video explaining the topic instead of making your own lesson?” “Isn’t curriculum building easy—just find worksheets and lesson plans online?”
Any good teacher would say “no” to each of those questions. As an Education major, each day I am reminded that just because a teacher leaves their classroom at the end of the day or because they traded in their physical space for a virtual Zoom room, it doesn’t mean their work stops. After three full years of focusing on how to lesson plan, build curriculum, meet standards, etc. geared toward 7th-12th grade students, this past week I had a glimpse into life as a PreK-4 candidate/teacher. And it wasn’t easy. The interns are taking turns building lessons for each week of this internship. I volunteered for this week. I surfed the web for hours trying to find 5 days’ worth (which really is only ~5 hours because of our schedule) of curriculum for students ranging from Kindergarten through 3rd grade. I tried finding ways to please each student but quickly realized how unrealistic that was. And it doesn’t help that the two students I work with couldn’t be more different… aside from the fact writing isn’t their preferred hobby.
I stepped away from my laptop and took deep breaths. My patience was thinning as I pondered what to include in my lesson. I wanted it to be perfect. Ultimately, I gave in and I decided to consult the joint Pinterest board that the interns and I share for some inspiration, and then I had my “Aha!” moment. I realized maybe I was approaching the task at the wrong angle—the 7th through 12th grade angle I worked so hard to fully understand the last 6.5 semesters. I can’t ask a kindergartener to write a paragraph about her favorite Autumn activities… she just learned how to correctly write each letter in her name.
I decided to include a handful of activities including pumpkin mazes, acrostic poems, color by numbers, and a story that asks the kids to draw a related picture after they listen. This week made me realize 2 things:
1. Sometimes you have to start small and grow as you go. We still have a few weeks left of this internship and I’m eager to see how the students progress.
2. Teachers are underappreciated. We should all take time to thank a teacher (past or current) this week because curriculum building is far from easy!