Behind the teacher’s desk: Students reverse role in cadet classes

Rhydian Talbot/Staff Writer

Career planning just got a whole lot easier.

Cadet Teaching is a class designed to allow high school seniors hands on experience in the classroom from the standpoint of teacher, not student.

The semester-long class places students in elementary grades or a select few junior high subjects, depending in part on the student’s age level preference and availability of classrooms.

The cadets then attend their designated classes every day during 5th, 6th and 7th periods, observing and assisting in student activities.

To become a cadet teacher, high school juniors must submit an application in May to program coordinator Mike Hansel.

From there, candidates undergo an interview process, where factors such as past attendance records and student dependability are taken into account.

During this process, the candidate’s post-secondary plans play a part in deciding the final selection of student teachers.

“Potential cadets must have an interest in pursuing an education degree.

That does not mean they absolutely know they want to be a teacher, but they believe it is a possible career choice for them,” Hansel said.

Accepted students receive their classroom assignments at the end of the spring semester, and they begin cadet teaching in either the fall or spring semester of their senior year.

One of the fall semester cadets includes senior Mija Bean, who’s assisting in Jodie Bonwell’s 6th grade class at Lincoln Elementary.

Though only a few weeks into the semester, Bean has already gotten the opportunity to put her teaching skills to the test, proving successful for both her and her students.
“I was helping one student learn some algebra.

It took her a while to get the concept, but to finally see her eyes light up and watch the light bulb pop on really made me feel good. It made my day knowing I can actually really help someone out,” Bean said.

On top of communication through instruction, cadet teachers gain the opportunity to form bonds with students outside the educational curriculum.

Senior Josh Schoon, assisting in Kristen Remmert’s 5th grade classroom at Southdale Elementary, said he appreciates the interpersonal experiences cadet teaching provides.
“I’ve had a lot of one-on-one conversations with [the students].

They’ll come up to me all the time saying things like, ‘Mr. Schoon, I’m having a terrible day,’ or ‘Mr. Schoon, what were you like when you were in fifth grade?’” Schoon said.

The connection between cadet teacher and student doesn’t end when the final bell rings.

Whereas bumping into a teacher outside of the classroom at the high school level may seem awkward, elementary students get a kick out of seeing their instructor in an informal setting, a sentiment shared by both parties.

“It is a lot fun to see my kids at the CF football games!

They will come running up to me yelling, ‘Hi, Mr. Schoon! I saw you in marching band!’ and wave,” Schoon said.

This mutual camaraderie between teacher and student helps establish trust in the classroom, an essential part in fostering a successful education.

The cadet teaching program provides student teachers with experience at the front of the classroom as educator, allowing cadets the opportunity to view their own teachers through new eyes.

Cadets learn firsthand the difficulties associated with teaching, such as addressing misbehavior problems in the classroom.

Exposure to such difficulties from a different viewpoint can affect cadets’ own performance as students.

“I do appreciate my teachers more. I’m trying to stay a bit more focused in my own classes because it does help my grades,” Bean said.

Though not entirely certain what the future holds, Schoon said he believes cadet teaching has helped him gain clearer insight into his life’s direction after high school.

“This is giving me a better idea of what I want to do when I grow up. I still don’t know if I will be a teacher, but I do know that I can really make a difference in kids’ lives and impact them just by being a role model to them.”

Class of 2014

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