Elementaryeducation undergraduate and Master of Science in Education alumna DanielleJohnson isn’t your ordinary second-grade teacher. For part of the day, sheleads 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’salso making sure students get both the extra attention they need and theadvanced challenges for those who are excelling in their grade level.
How wouldyou describe your job to someone who doesn’t have this kind of classroom?
I am asecond-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, myclass of second-graders is involved in “Learning Lane,” a community ofteachers, staff members and students who are working together to further thesuccesses of our students. We group our students by ability and teach studentsthe skills and strategies they truly need.
Yourclassroom is a mixed-grade room at times. What’s that like?
Multipletimes throughout the day, my students go to a specific spot in our learningcommunity, which allows them to be taught the skills they need. Most of mystudents stay in my room, which is considered a 1-2 room, or go into the roomnext door, which is considered the 2-3 or enrichment room. I need to make surethat I set routines for my students who are leaving at these times, as well asfor the students coming into my room.
How is thisstructure different than the “regular” teaching experience?
The biggestchallenge is the amount of movement throughout the day. I need to make surethat I am set in the routine of what we are doing so that I am always aware ofmy students and where they need to be. Another challenge would be the constantcommunication with each student’s classroom teacher so we can solve anyproblems or concerns.
What broughtyou to teaching? And, now that you’re there, is it more than just “teaching”?
I pursuedteaching because of my passion to help students become lifelong learners. Ilove seeing my students excel in ways that they may not be able to excel bythemselves. The pride they begin to show and the confidence they exude as theyear goes on is what makes it worthwhile. Being ateacher is not just about teaching. I am also a nurturing, caring adult, acounselor, and am constantly doing triage to any sicknesses the students mayfeel. While teaching, I need to make sure that I am thinking about the needs ofall of my students.
From yourtime as a student at Saint Joseph’s, what sticks with you to this day?
Theelementary education faculty did a great job at having me reflect on my successand what I can constantly be working on. I use this every day, which ultimatelyhelps me become a better teacher day after day. Another thing that Iutilize everyday is how to be a professional. The elementary education facultyheld us to high standards and expected that we act and lookprofessionally. The facultyprovided me with the foundation I needed to be an educator and to constantlylearn and advance. They also prepped me for the interview process, holding mockinterviews my junior and senior years. I found the First Year Alumni Teacher’sPanel to be very helpful because I was able to hear stories of alumni who wentthrough the program and what successes or failures they may be experiencing inthe field. I was able to ask questions that I may not necessarily have beenable to ask in an interview or when I first began teaching.
Knowing whatyou know now, what tip would you give to current elementary education students?
Beready for anything. The education field is constantly changing. Saint Joseph’sCollege does a great job at preparing you for the field, preparing you to beready to accept and adapt to changes as they are passed along to the classroom.