Seeing Her Student's Potential
Seeing Her Students’ Potential
Janice Kim, MA, Elementary Inclusive Pre-Service Education
During her first field placement, in a first-grade classroom of English language learners in
Washington Heights, Janice Kim quickly realized that, in at least one respect, she did not want to emulate the teacher in charge.
“He was one of those teachers who love to yell,” recalls Kim, who has completed her master’s degree in TC’s elementary inclusive pre-service education program. “Then one day he asked me to take over, and I thought, I’m going to do things differently. But it’s really easy, if you haven’t figured out who are you are and practiced standing in front of a classroom, to do things you never guessed you’d do. I ended up yelling myself. It wasn’t one of my proudest moments.”
It was, however, essential in helping Kim, whose mother is a nurse and whose father is a pastor, form her identity as a teacher.
“The program is very encouraging in getting us to be more reflective and aware of our students,” she says. “I realized that, before I started, I had never really viewed children – as much as I loved them and loved working with them – as people in their entirety. I had never walked into a classroom with the attitude of, What can I learn from them, what knowledge and value sets do they already have and how can I work with them? Instead, I was focused on what I could put impart to them. And TC really challenged that.”
Kim’s focus is on working with special education students, a group she says “gets the least proper care and needs it the most.” In her second student placement, at P.S. 6 in Manhattan, she worked in a cooperative team teaching classroom with both a general education teacher and a special education teacher.
“It was great to see how they included students with IEPs [individualized education plans],” she says. “Other teachers often put those students in separate groups, but these two teachers switched things up so much that none of the students really knew who had an IEP. And that’s what I loved about the program at TC. It really stresses that every child has a strength and also has areas they can work on.”
For Kim, that idea was vividly illustrated in her Washington Heights field placement.
“There was this little boy who was the shortest child in the class and also a selective mute. He was very intelligent but his attitude towards school was very resistant, partly because of the way adults approached him. I tried to build a good rapport with him. In group meetings on the rug, I’d call on him. It took him time to talk, and the others would get restless, but I’d tell them to wait. I think he saw that, and it created a bond between us.”
On her last day on the job, Kim asked if any of the students wanted to get up and read a poem aloud to the class.
“This boy raised his hand, stood up and read it all aloud, with no help from me. I was just beaming. You could see that the other kids didn’t look at him differently, it was just the adults. And I’m hoping from that experience that the adults will change their view of him.”previous page