By Lanna Hernandez
During the last year, teachers across the country felt the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic with school closures and the switch to remote learning. These new ways of education have become something everyone is now familiar with; however, the transition to virtual classes has been challenging for instructors.
According to Education Week, forty-three percent of teachers reported they are considering leaving the profession due to pandemic stress or inadequate pay. This workforce shift gave the opportunity for four Grand Junction apprentices and future educators to develop their skills.
“I feel as though being a teacher during COVID made it harder to teach because you have to talk through a mask and keep everything so distant that students didn’t get the chance to really explore the social aspect of school and learning,” said Amethyst Correa, an education apprentice at Chipeta Elementary School.
In spite of the difficulties COVID-19 has presented to students with mask wearing, limited social interaction and virtual learning, the pandemic has benefited young people in many ways. Teenagers gained more hands-on experience with technology and software applications such as Zoom, Google Drive, and Microsoft Office. Students and parents across the globe became increasingly self-sufficient and found innovative ways to connect with the world without physical touch or in-person communication.
Grace Calkins, Amethyst Correa and Megan Jones are three of the four new Future Ed apprentices who are ready to make a change and help strengthen the Mesa District 51 school system. Reflecting on how this recent school year went for these students, they were able to witness how much of an impact a teacher can have on a student’s life.
“My teaching role model is Mr. Gonzalez at Central High School. He teaches art and is the most amazing art teacher I have ever had. He always has something positive to say about our work and he treats his students more like family than students. He always listens when we have bad days and is the first to give great advice during hard times,” said Megan, who will begin her apprenticeship this fall at Dos Rios Elementary.
Teachers play a very important role in a person’s life, as they shape the early years of adulthood for teens and build communication skills in grades K-5. With such responsibility in becoming a teacher, these students are excited to gain some experience of seeing how a classroom should run as well as what it looks like when you fill in the role of an educator. These students will understand the importance of education, and value in mentoring young people, as their teachers did for them.
Having a future educator role helps apprentices gain constructive criticism, and hands-on experiences on what a teacher does to prep and teach one’s students, and how a class should run.
An apprentice at Dos Rios Elementary, Grace is excited for the experience and opportunity.
“During my apprenticeship I hope to learn how different teachers manage their classroom. I also hope to discover which age group in an elementary school I like working with the best. I want to learn how to be an effective teacher with good classroom management skills so that when I do have my own classroom, I already have my own skills to use,” said Grace.
These success-bound teachers-in-the-making are ready to bring innovation and a fresh perspective to the field of education, from learning from previous teachers, and adapting from COVID-19.