An Open Letter from an Elementary Education Major

Throughout my educational career, I have been blessed with captivating teachers. They went above and beyond the basic lessons plans; teaching me not just the state standards, but life long lessons. They taught me that my learning can go beyond the classroom; to gain knowledge from all aspects of my life, including the people around me.

From the moment I was little, I dreamed of being a teacher. I would play school with my sister and friends, spending my free time making and grading worksheets for my imaginary students. Here I am, 15 years later, pursuing the same dream, except now it isn’t just fun and games.

From an outside perspective, I understand how people believe all elementary education majors do is create crafts and games for their students. The only books we should need for class are picture books. When we do practicum hours, we just play with the students or silently watch them from the back of the classroom. However, this could not be further from the truth.

Each craft and game we create is just the spotlight of a lesson plan we spent hours working on. These projects are the way students truly learn, because no child wants to listen to their teacher lecture for hours on end. Each lesson plan is similar to a miniature research project as we have to find the standard we are trying to meet, tie it into the topic we are teaching, and add a fun aspect to get the kiddos to remember the lesson.

We have multiple textbooks for each class along with multiple children’s books needed throughout the semester. People see the picture book as a fun book to spark the child’s imagination. We see picture books and immediately start depicting it and creating possible lessons that it could teach in our heads.

Each lesson we teach is not a basic step-by-step plan. We make extension activities to make sure students that get done early have a way of being challenged even more. We create differentiated instructions, because children learn in various ways and each child has different needs.

Despite all of these stressful and time consuming things, Elementary Education majors love it all. Teaching is a passion for helping children that only a select few are called to do. Teachers do not check out at three o’clock when the bell rings, they stay long after the last student has left and even then take work home. Teachers care for and love each child as if he or she was their own, caring about them and checking in on them long after they have their classroom. Although many people could not handle what we go through, we do it all with a happy heart, because teaching is not a career, it is a way of life.