As part of the McKay School of Education, there are two practicum semesters. The first practicum semester is known as the K-2 practicum experience and the second semester is the grades 3-6 practicum experience. During these semesters, the students are assigned a classroom of elementary students, and for four weeks they practice the methods of teaching they have been learning in their classes.
As the K-2 practicum semester draws closer for me, the question I ask myself is, “What qualities does a good teacher have that I want to develop?” This makes me think back to the teachers I had in elementary school. Each teacher had unique qualities that helped them be the teacher they were. The teacher that stands out to me the most is my first grade teacher, Mrs. Roniger. As I thought about her and the desirable qualities she had, I remember a poem I wrote in high school.
A bunch of yellow roses,
Vibrant and unforgotten,
Sit upon the table,
Of a woman once strong and able.
This woman has a story,
As most people do,
She started happy,
As a teacher everyone knew.
This teacher did nothing wrong
Six- and seven-year olds she taught, but not for long,
Because an illness did lurk,
And the fate of her was unsure.
Doctors tried to save her,
But the illness had spread too far,
She knew her life was at the end,
But she didn’t want to go around that bend.
It was cancer she had died of,
On a cold December day,
She will always be unforgotten,
In a very special way.
Recently, I added these four stanzas:
It has been fourteen years,
Since I sat in this teacher’s classroom,
And I still think about her,
And all that she did for her students.
I think about how she’ll never know,
The impact she made on my life,
But she is the reason,
I have chosen the path of teaching.
As I follow in her footsteps,
I think of her bright smile,
Her loving heart, so dear,
And all the children that she taught.
I know she would be proud of me,
As I am proud of her,
For all the lives that she has changed,
In the short time she was given.
Even though Mrs. Roniger may not have been in my classroom everyday because of she had cancer when I was her student, she had a big impact on my life. She was kind, gentle, and patient. She knew the potential of every student and helped them through all their challenges. The most distinct quality she had that I remember was her smile. Not once did I enter the classroom without receiving a warm smile from her. It made her classroom happy and welcoming. She made everyone feel special to her. It has shown me the importance of being positive and happy everyday. It can help create the the effective and safe learning environment that I want for all of my students. Mrs. Roniger, also, possessed the quality of “being in the moment.” A smile may sound simple and easy at first, but to be able to start each and every day this way, as each day is new with great potential, is a quality I want to have as a teacher.
Our students will always be watching and learning from us. The impact we can have on them has the potential to lead them to follow their dreams and become the best they can be. Who knows? They may just follow in our footsteps and become a teacher like us.
What qualities do you want to develop as a teacher?