ALPENA – Twenty-four students from Alpena High School have spent the year learning what it’s like to become a teacher in the school’s teachers’ academy.
Launched in the fall, the Teachers’ Academy is part of secondary school vocational and technical education programs, where students typically receive hands-on training to prepare them for a career or trade.
Students at the Teacher Academy spent the year learning different teaching methods, reading intervention strategies and creating lesson plans. They were also assigned to a mentor teacher at Ella White Elementary School, Thunder Bay Junior High School or Alpena High School.
The Teachers’ Academy was originally developed to allow students to go to nearby schools where they could observe a teacher in a classroom environment, but some changes have been made due to coronavirus restrictions.
Teacher Sarah Bedford said the technology was purchased for the classroom, including a meeting owl and monitor for their class as well as for each of the mentor teacher classrooms. The Meeting Owl has a camera with a 360-degree view and connects students in the Bedford classroom to their mentor’s classroom.
Bedford said students have also recorded themselves reading books and created a reading list that teacher mentors can share with their students. Students also read books using Meeting Owl or Google Chat.
Junior Alicia Ballor said she read Ottie and the Star, which she said the students enjoyed. Ballor said that while the students wanted to learn a little more about the book, they were very interested in what she was doing as part of the teachers’ academy.
Now that restrictions on coronaviruses have eased, students at the teachers’ academy can now visit classrooms at other schools. Bedford said the students will travel to Ella White on Thursday to visit a mentor teacher there.
Ballor thinks the class visit will be his favorite part of the year. Ballor said both of her parents are teachers and she is still deciding whether to be a teacher or pursue a career in pediatric physiotherapy.
Noah Gagnon said he wanted to become a high school or college math teacher.
âI find math very easy, so I think teaching math would be fun,â he said.
Gagnon said learning about how people learn and how to teach will stay that way the longest.
Bedford said there continues to be strong interest from students who want to take the course next year. She also said district officials are looking to make more certifications available to students in the future.
Bedford said she wants students who take the course to be inspired and consider returning to the community after college, with the hope that they will return to teach in the school district.
âIt is important that these local educators return if they wish, to improve the community and bring a new perspective. really like to continue, âshe said.
The Teacher Academy was made possible by a grant of $ 66,800 from the Michigan Department of Education, which helped pay for the technology, materials, and room decor needed by the classroom.