education undergraduate and Master of Science in Education alumna Danielle
Johnson isn’t your ordinary second-grade teacher. For part of the day, she
leads students from both first- and second-grade in a mixed-classroom setting.
The benefit? Not only is she an adaptive and professional educator, but she’s
also making sure students get both the extra attention they need and the
advanced challenges for those who are excelling in their grade level.
you describe your job to someone who doesn’t have this kind of classroom?
I am a
second-grade classroom teacher in Naples, Maine. I teach all the core subjects,
as well as strategies and skills to help with social skills. This year, my
class of second-graders is involved in “Learning Lane,” a community of
teachers, staff members and students who are working together to further the
successes of our students. We group our students by ability and teach students
the skills and strategies they truly need.
classroom is a mixed-grade room at times. What’s that like?
times throughout the day, my students go to a specific spot in our learning
community, which allows them to be taught the skills they need. Most of my
students stay in my room, which is considered a 1-2 room, or go into the room
next door, which is considered the 2-3 or enrichment room. I need to make sure
that I set routines for my students who are leaving at these times, as well as
for the students coming into my room.
How is this
structure different than the “regular” teaching experience?
challenge is the amount of movement throughout the day. I need to make sure
that I am set in the routine of what we are doing so that I am always aware of
my students and where they need to be. Another challenge would be the constant
communication with each student’s classroom teacher so we can solve any
problems or concerns.
you to teaching? And, now that you’re there, is it more than just “teaching”?
teaching because of my passion to help students become lifelong learners. I
love seeing my students excel in ways that they may not be able to excel by
themselves. The pride they begin to show and the confidence they exude as the
year goes on is what makes it worthwhile. Being a
teacher is not just about teaching. I am also a nurturing, caring adult, a
counselor, and am constantly doing triage to any sicknesses the students may
feel. While teaching, I need to make sure that I am thinking about the needs of
all of my students.
time as a student at Saint Joseph’s, what sticks with you to this day?
elementary education faculty did a great job at having me reflect on my success
and what I can constantly be working on. I use this every day, which ultimately
helps me become a better teacher day after day. Another thing that I
utilize everyday is how to be a professional. The elementary education faculty
held us to high standards and expected that we act and look
professionally. The faculty
provided me with the foundation I needed to be an educator and to constantly
learn and advance. They also prepped me for the interview process, holding mock
interviews my junior and senior years. I found the First Year Alumni Teacher's
Panel to be very helpful because I was able to hear stories of alumni who went
through the program and what successes or failures they may be experiencing in
the field. I was able to ask questions that I may not necessarily have been
able to ask in an interview or when I first began teaching.
you know now, what tip would you give to current elementary education students?
ready for anything. The education field is constantly changing. Saint Joseph's
College does a great job at preparing you for the field, preparing you to be
ready to accept and adapt to changes as they are passed along to the classroom.