Spark! Teaching & Learning….A Class Like No Other by Brooke Muckerman

Spark! Teaching & Learning is a class like no other. My classmates and I have the opportunity to experience the real world of a career in education that we are all interested in. It’s a different type of class!  We learn from experience-not from a book. Something that I think all my classmates and I can agree on is that it’s one of the “funner” classes that we have had the opportunity to take. It is very helpful being surrounded by people who are wanting the same goals as you-whether it be in the future or now. We all know that one day we will be in the field of education-it could mean being teachers or school counselors. Having the opportunity to experience these new ideas and new teaching styles even before we begin our college career really gives us the upper hand because we already know what we want. With all this said, what does a typical class look like?

Everyday we walk into the class, dressed in business casual clothing, laptop in hand and ready to go. I personally go home and change before every class and have lunch-but some of my other classmates go straight from our high school to Highcroft Elementary where the class is held. The awesome thing about Spark! Teaching and Learning is that for the most part, everything is done and posted online, which means that if you miss a day,  you can access all the assignments and be caught up by the next class! Our class starts with a warm up, that could be an activity about a topic we just learned or a video about what we are going to learn. We do lots of hands on activities, which prepare and gives us ideas for what we can use in our future classrooms. We learn everything from how the brain processes information to how schools are funded. Spark! is amazing because  a class can be based off what is happening  currently.

Once a week we spend 45min-1hour with a teacher at Highcroft helping in the classroom and giving basic instructions to students. We call these our JumpIn classes, which basically means we jump in and help and then jump right back out. My JumpIn class is with my older sister, Mrs. Zafiropoulos,  in her first grade classroom. I jump in during her math time-which I think is the best time because students are working on different levels. A typical class for JumpIn consists of me walking into the class and starting to help with whatever activity that is currently happening and I assist the teacher with anything she needs to get done. I’ve mainly been helping with simple addition and ways to make mental math easier. Connecting with the students is a big part of this because they are not always open  to visitors-especially if they already love their teacher so much. Being welcoming and helpful is key in these JumpIn rooms because you do not want to disrupt the flow of the classroom.

JumpIn Rooms are only a fraction of the real world experiences we get to do in Spark! Teaching & Learning. We also go to a school and help the librarians with Makerspaces. Makerspaces are areas/spaces in libraries that host fun interactive learning games, activities and challenges for students. I go to South Middle and help the librarians there set up their new Makerspace activities.  I  give input and ideas on what to do next. Our current project is developed around The Day of the Dead, or Dia De Los Muertos. We are making an activity that the Spanish teacher can use to help teach and inform her students while incorporating some fun learning about the Mexican culture. Helping with Makerspace can be anything from cutting out letters and gluing them to creating new ideas for the Makerspace.

No matter the strand, Spark! really gives us students the opportunity to learn and experience a career field that they are interested in, and also includes help and guidance  from industry  professionals. I really enjoy Spark! Teaching and Learning and I can only imagine that many other Spark! participants enjoy it too!

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