Teacher Cadet evokes excitement among high school students and an opportunity to try out a future career

As junior Brittney Probst walks through the halls of Ada Elementary School, she surveys the unique and creative artwork and writing that is sprawled across the walls of the hallway outside of each classroom. She approaches her destination, Mr. Lowell’s classroom, and she is greeted by the excited, anxious faces of roughly thirty third graders. A smile instantly grows on her face as she welcomes the adorable third graders, and she jumps right into assisting with the events that are occurring that day in his classroom. 

“I want to work with kids,” Brittney said. “My sister took Teacher Cadet when she was in high school, and she told me she really loved it. That’s what made her want to be a teacher. So, I wanted to follow in her footsteps and try out the class.” 

Tuesday through Friday during sixth hour, Teacher Cadet students travel to classrooms within the various elementary schools and middle school to help with the lessons that are being taught to younger students. On Mondays, however, the students are required to complete logs and other assignments that help them to explain their experiences within the classroom, assess how they’re doing, and reflect upon their experiences. 

“Our grades consist of timesheets and our portfolio that we have to make which is where all of our papers and everything goes into,” Brittney said. 

As to what is expected of students in the class, it doesn’t entail a large number of responsibilities. Essentially, students are simply expected to be present and helpful in their assigned classroom. 

Junior Autumn Buchanan is also participating in the class this semester. She has always wanted to be a teacher, and once she discovered that the class was an actual thing, she chose it as one of her electives immediately. 

I’m loving going out into the classrooms in the district and seeing what that teacher is doing and what our high school students can do in those classrooms.

— Patricia Richardson

“During the first week of school, we chose five different teachers in five different grades that we tested out before we became teacher cadets,” Autumn said. “I visited a kindergarten class, and I really liked the environment.” 

That choice led Autumn to assist in Mrs. Vroegop’s kindergarten class at Ada Elementary School. Autumn specifically enjoys providing aid to struggling students in the class and has witnessed how that has helped some kindergarteners finally understand the topic they were once struggling with. 

“When we are allowed to help students, we can get involved in what they are learning and what we need to teach them,” Autumn said. “I love when you have a great bond with a specific student, so then every day you get to talk with them about how their life is going and if anything is bothering them. So, you are also extra support for that, and it’s nice that they look up to you as a mentor or idol.” 

Teacher of Record for the class Patricia Richardson enjoys her time observing the excitement that her students create within the classrooms and among themselves when they divulge their experiences. This is her first year holding the role. If Richardson wasn’t a science teacher, she would teach teaching; so, when the role was offered to the science department at FHC last year, Richardson was more than enthusiastic to snatch it. 

Richardson only sees each student once a week; therefore, she has struggled with figuring out what to give and assign when. She desires to make sure that her students have enough to do and are confident and successful in their classrooms. 

“I’m loving going out into the classrooms in the district and seeing what that teacher is doing and what our high school students can do in those classrooms,” Richardson said. “It’s really cool to see what’s happening in the district and how our students are engaged in it.” 

Richardson recommends that students who are interested in teaching as a future career or are at least tossing it around take the class. And if the class ends up not being the perfect match for a student, then they are one step closer to deciding what they want to do and be in the future. Although a leap of faith is necessary, students will be rewarded—in one way or another—in the end. 

Autumn is one of the people who have been rewarded with experience through her time in the class. She appreciates the interactions that she partakes in with the children, and she is even more enthusiastic to enter teaching in the future because of her experiences in the class. 

“It teaches you responsibility and patience,” Autumn said. “I think that is the biggest thing I have learned from taking the class. Every student is different and learns in a different way, and so you learn as a teacher what to take into consideration when you are teaching. A lot of times when you want to be something when you’re older, and you test it out, you learn about it more. I actually like teaching even more: it has given me a whole new perspective on little kids and teaching.”