At first glance, her morning looks just like any other for the past decade. She gets up, eats breakfast, and catches the bus to school before 8 a.m. But dig a little deeper, and you’ll see one major difference: she is no longer the student; she’s the teacher.
Stephanie Sablich is a senior at Anderson University majoring in elementary education. In order to earn her degree, she completed a term of student teaching. Typically education majors find a student teaching job somewhere near their university. Sablich, however, decided to pursue a position in Chicago.
When she got to Chicago, Sablich was phased in to teaching. The program she was with slowly gave her responsibilities, and every two weeks she would pick up a new subject to teach. Sablich eventually did all the planning, prepping, and teaching for a first grade classroom.
Sablich stayed busy all day. At 9:15 a.m., all students were in their classrooms ready to learn. Throughout the morning, students would work on literacy by breaking into small groups based on achievement level. In addition, they would go to an oral Spanish class three days a week.
Lunch and recess would signify the start of the afternoon, which was followed by independent reading. The students would then go to either gym or music, each twice a week. Forty minutes later, students would be challenged in a math curriculum called “Everyday Math.”
To end the day on a good note, Sablich liked to wrap up with something light, like reading them a book. By 3 p.m., the students were racing to their bus and Sablich called it a day after an hour or two of prep time.
A dynamic aspect of Sablich’s teaching position was that several of her students were English Language Learners (meaning they were learning English as a new language). At this young age, many of them were still developing English language skills and were not yet fluent in the language. However, living in a primarily English-speaking world gave them access to some of the English idioms and phrases that were not necessarily proper or typical.
“For example,” said Sablich, “I had a little boy who spoke very little English. He was often pretty unfocused, probably because he understood very little of what went on in the classroom. One morning, I was talking to him with a mix of English and Spanish, and he responded to me ‘Sure thing!’ Another time, I found him singing the ‘bow-chicka-wa-wa’ song, and then agreeing to do an assignment by saying ‘A-ok!’ Again, this boy was lacking understanding of basic vocabulary necessary to engage in everyday conversation, but he could repeat English idioms better than many English-speaking students.”
While Sablich did some practicum work in the central Indiana area, she really enjoyed teaching in Chicago. “The demographics are very different in Chicago than in Anderson,” Sablich said. “The staff is smaller [in Chicago] than in Anderson, and every school is controlled by a local board: six parents, a principal, teacher, community member, and a student.”
Sablich learned a lot through her student teaching in Chicago. “To look back on where I was, that was only two and a half months ago,” she said. “What a world of difference that has made.”
While she has grown academically, she also believes she has grown a lot personally.
“On a personal level I’ve never had the opportunity to get so close to a group of kids,” she said. “When you spend that much time with them, it naturally follows that you would.”
After she finishes her degree, Sablich hopes to teach in Chicago on the west side of the city. Although it’s a rougher part of town, she feels that is where her heart is. Eventually, Sablich hopes to pursue educational policy after teaching for a period of time.
— Joshua Mifflin is a senior from Anderson, Ind., majoring in communication arts and Spanish. Mifflin is an associate with Fifth Street Communications writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2008, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the fourth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.