Nearly 250 East Valley students met last week at Mesa’s ASU Polytechnic campus to learn what it’s like to be a teacher.

“We don’t need more teachers, we need more great teachers,” said Bryan Harris, the director of professional development and public relations at Casa Grande Elementary School District, who gave the keynote speech.

Students came to Arizona State University Polytechnic campus to attend the “Becoming a Teacher 101” event, which put high school students in the classrooms of Mary Lou Fulton Teacher’s College professors. In three breakout sessions, the students saw a brief overview of what they would learn in an education classroom and asked questions about what it’s like to be a teacher.

“I know I want to be a teacher,” said Chad Kahawai, a sophomore from Tempe’s Corona del Sol High School. “I’m learning the basics here.”

Kahawai was one of many students in the Future Educators Association who attended the event.

The reason high school students want to go into teaching vary, perhaps with as many reasons as students, but many have an overarching desire to be of service to others.

“I want to make a difference and I love working with children,” said Jennifer Johnson, a junior at Corona del Sol.

“I would be the fifth generation of teachers in my family,” said Alexis Doll, a senior at Corona del Sol who is leaning toward attending Northern Arizona University next year.

But the event wasn’t only for students who know their chosen career path.

“Not every student here knows they want to be a teacher,” said Connie Pangrazi, assistant dean of Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at ASU Polytechnic. “But we want to introduce that opportunity to high school students.”

The event allowed students to ask questions about teaching to teachers, as most of the professors previously taught in the area they now instruct in, Pangrazi said.

Teaching contributes to the greater good of society, impacting not only the students one teacher teaches, but also the people a student impacts in turn, Pangrazi said.

“Students tend to associate content with a teacher,” Pangrazi said. “If you can get them to like a teacher, there’s a better chance they’ll love that material.”

The students had the opportunity to learn what the daily life of a teacher looks like, something they’re usually on the opposite end of.

In one seminar, students were asked to investigate an orange, to list every fact they know about an orange by using their five senses. Afterwards, they were asked to do the same, only this time with a plastic orange and later with a picture of an orange.

The lists dwindled in one group from 15 characteristics to four and then down to three.

“I like how she’s teaching hands-on, instead of a PowerPoint,” said Amber Jones, a junior at Mesa’s Mountain View High School.

In another session, students learned about the different types of disabilities that may qualify for an accommodation and the options available for such accommodations.

“I’ve learned a lot, like how special ed has changed,” said Cindy Juarez, a sophomore at Corona del Sol.

“Even from when we were in elementary school,” added Alexis Doll.

The Polytechnic campus is also home to the physical education department and students were able to see how today’s PE teachers do more than teach classes.

Now, PE teachers are taught to integrate as much activity into the day as possible, Pangrazi said. While schools have been shortening recess over the last few years, it’s important that teachers find ways to get kids to focus.

By using short activity breaks, students can get out their restless energy and then return to learning, Pangrazi said.

“We believe that every child needs a great teacher,” she said. “It’s the greatest profession there is.”

The Mary Lou Fulton Teacher’s College has about 5,000 students over four campuses, she said.


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