IU freshmen aren’t the only ones starting a new adventure this semester – recent School of Education graduates also began their journeys as first-year teachers. We will be profiling these alumni as they begin a career of changing lives through teaching. This profile is written by Angel Christenson, a fifth grade teacher at Sand Creek Intermediate School in Fishers, IN.
I teach fifth grade resource at Sand Creek Intermediate School in Fishers, Indiana, and so far my first year teaching here has been great! I have learned so much already from both my coworkers and my students, and can't imagine myself in another place or career path. It is definitely different than what I imagined; for one, I thought I would never be able to wrap my head around writing Individualized Education Programs and leading each IEP conference. But after my first few, it wasn't so bad any more. My coworkers were super helpful in this part of the job and were open to any questions I had about IEPs and school in general. (I had quite a few.) The staff here at Sand Creek have been amazing and so supportive; I wouldn't be where I am at without them!
As with any job, I have found some challenges. Part of those challenges has been handling behaviors in the classroom, or, in my case, classrooms, especially figuring out what to do first in order to calm a student when he/she flips his/her switch and has a full-blown tantrum. Each day is different with those kiddos; one day something will work, and the next it won't. The classes I took through the Teaching All Learners program at the School of Education that focused on behaviors and disabilities in the classroom, as well as my field placements each semester, helped me immensely. Being able to student teach for an entire year also was really beneficial. Being able to spend an entire semester in both the general and special education setting made me feel more prepared to be a special education teacher.
As to why I teach and what made me become a teacher, growing up, my mom worked at an elementary school in my hometown, so I basically grew up there, too. I spent every morning before and after school in classrooms and wandering the halls. I loved being there, and seeing the things teachers did every day. Once I was older, I loved getting any opportunity to work with kids of all ages and seeing their reaction when everything just clicked into place and they understood a concept of a lesson and then were able to then teach someone else that was struggling with it.
Recently my Professional Learners Community team here at Sand Creek has picked up reading "Empower" by John Spencer and A.J. Juliani. Reading the first chapter, a quote that really struck home as to why I am here every day and why I wanted to be a teacher was "Our job is not to prepare students for something; our job is to help students prepare themselves for anything." I want my students to feel empowered and feel like they can do and be anything they want to be. So after two months of school, I am still very happy with my decision to be a part of the Shark Family here at Sand Creek Intermediate, and can't wait to see what the rest of the year has in store for me!