Melisa Tobon, a senior majoring in elementary education from Colombia, said the program has not only taught her how to teach children, but also “teaches you. There are a lot of things you get to keep for yourself. If I don’t teach, because I’ll become a mother, I know I have grown a lot and learned things that will help me personally.”
Growing up, Tobon said her parents raised her to love school and learning. However, some of her fellow classmates did not have people who helped motivate them, so they ended up not going to school or doing their homework and had a more difficult life.
“I had a lot of really good teachers growing up and saw them believe in their students. That made a big difference in their lives. I want to be an elementary teacher because I know I can believe in the students, and I want to be the one who can encourage them so they can realize they can do anything.”
“It is not doing the same thing over and over again. One day you may teach about photosynthesis and then the next day you may teach about rainbows, multiplication, or times tables.
“I think it is a very selfless major. It is not one where you think so much about yourself but you are thinking about others.
“When you learn how to teach you learn how to express yourself, manage your time, and listen. These skills may not be developed as much in other majors.”
“I always thought about being an international teacher. Not many people know about Colombia, and I feel as a teacher I could be a good influence. There are a lot of kids in a lot of different parts of the world that don’t get to meet someone from Colombia… I feel I can give them an opportunity to know about the world and what’s out there.”
She speaks Spanish, English, Portuguese, and American Sign Language and is currently learning Japanese. She wants to be able to speak as many language as possible so she can help different students.
“Some of the classes I have really enjoyed have definitely been the method classes....You learn how to teach specific subjects and not so much how you would teach. For example, I am taking the math methods class right now and we are learning about fractions. We learn to not just stand up in front of the board and tell them everything, but you actually want them to try it out, problem solve, and experiment so they can learn the material themselves.”
“There is a lot of preparation before coming to class because you want to participate and learn how to be in a classroom and be ready to ask questions... The assignments always relate to the class. For example, if you learn about water density, you go to class and have an experiment of things floating and sinking. Then after class, you have an assignment on a reflection of what you learned or something to prepare you for the next class.”
According to the Education Program Lead Ammon Wilcken, there are 110 students enrolled in the major.
Tobon said she spends 1-2 hours doing homework each day. Weekly, she spend 4-6 hours preparing to teach a lesson and 11 hours observing teachers at Hauula Elementary as part of her observation and practicals (OP).
“I became very creative. You want to make things fun for the students, and you have to really think outside of the box. If I am not going to teach, I have gained that skill in making things fun, interesting, and different.
“Another thing is I would work in the morning. I could call it a family-friendly job. It helps your planning skills and time management with having to figure out how to plan a lesson. It teaches you about listening and caring about others.”
“You do more than you have to do and that is why people say teachers don’t get paid as much as they should. Being creative also takes a lot of time and some of the materials comes out of your own pocket. You do it all for the students and not yourself.”
NOTE: This article's online publication was delayed because it was featured in the Nov. 2017 print issue.