Q&A: Jessica Swatosh

Jessica+Swatosh+%2812%29+poses+in+the+Lake+Central+library.++For+third%2C+fourth+and+fifth+periods%2C+Swatosh+traveled+to+Kolling+Elementary+School+to+assist+one+of+the+teachers+in+a+program+called+exploratory+teaching.++

Jessica Swatosh (12) poses in the Lake Central library. For third, fourth and fifth periods, Swatosh traveled to Kolling Elementary School to assist one of the teachers in a program called exploratory teaching.

Liz Bustamante

Q: What do you do as an exploratory teacher?

A: I help the teacher, and I took Peer Mentoring last year, so it’s kind of like that. I help the kids, but I also do a little bit more. I make copies, and [Ms. Stone, the teacher I help,] will give me groups of kids to take aside, and I will work on something else with them.  I’m in the Resource room, so I’m in the special education classes.

Q: Why did you want to do exploratory teaching?

A: I want to be a special education teacher. If I didn’t do exploratory teaching, I would have done Peer Mentoring again. I really just wanted something extra.

Q: What do you plan on doing with your experience?

A: I plan on being a teacher.  [What I do in exploratory teaching] is not exactly what I plan on doing because I don’t know if I want to [teach] younger kids. I like the high schoolers too. I don’t know if I’d want to be a resource teacher either because there are different classrooms, [but] I am doing Exploratory Teaching to eventually become a teacher.

Q:What do you get out of your teaching experiences?

A:”It’s a lot of experience because I feel like people don’t figure out what it’s like to be in the classroom until they do internships after college because you’re required to before you become a teacher. I feel like that’s when some of them find out they don’t like it, but I get the experience early on before I go away to college.”

Q: Are there any complications involved in leaving school to teach?

A: On blue days I leave after lunch. We don’t have to, but sometimes – it’s kind of fun – you can do what you want basically because you just have to be there around 11:15 [a.m.] So if I wanted to eat lunch in the car I could, but I take A lunch because I know people in A lunch. Then I leave, and I’m there for third and fourth hour until I leave at 2:09 [p.m.], just like I would if I was at school. Then on white days, I’m [at Kolling] for fifth hour, so I meet the teacher when she gets in the classroom at 7:20 [a.m.].  I stay there for about an hour in the morning, and then I leave so I can get back in time for sixth hour.

Q: What are the pros of exploratory teaching?

A: It was nice because last year in Peer Mentoring I got to work with older kids and now this year I’m with the elementary kids, so I can kind of see which I like better for the future.  It’s also nice because Ms. Stone is younger, and it’s her second year of teaching, and she’s the special education teacher, so I can relate to her more.

Q: What are the cons of exploratory teaching?

A: Sometimes I feel like you have to be careful with what classes you pick. My mom used to [substitute] at Kolling, so she already knew Ms. Stone, and so that’s how I got into her classroom. If you just get assigned to somebody random, sometimes you won’t like the teacher as much, so you have to be careful with that.

Q: Have you made any connections with certain teachers or students?

A: Yes, I like the teacher; she’s really nice.  Some kids are quieter than the others. There’s a few of them that she said talked about me when [I wasn’t] there and worried about me.  I don’t know, it just makes me feel special.

Q:What do you do on a daily basis?

A: [The teachers] kind of have a routine because it’s the Resource room. Different kids come in at different times, but there’s the main few kids that are there a lot. They’re all very close and the teachers and the aides are all very close to the kids because they’re in the same resource room every year.  I get in there, and there’s not much to do on white day mornings, so if she has copies or anything extra for me – because the students aren’t there yet; it’s just me and the teacher – I’ll do that and if not, I’ll just do homework.  Sometimes she’ll pull me aside to read with a kid or to do worksheets. If the kids are taking a break, I go in the back area with them and read books to them. I’m there when we do calendar times, and I’ll just help them.  Sometimes she’ll have me go on little errands, like I’ll walk people back to their classrooms. When this one kid comes in, he needs energy breaks, so he comes in the resource room four times a day, and we have this medicine ball that we have to throw to him to get all his energy out.

Q: How is teaching younger kids different from when you did peer mentoring with older kids last year?

A: I like how the older kids were more outgoing. They came up to you and they talked to you.  They were kind of funny, and they were just more outgoing and wanted to be friends with you and you could see them in the hallway and wave. But, the elementary kids, I don’t know if it’s just the kids I’m working with, but they’re a little quieter. It takes them a while to trust you. Some of them are still a little shy around me.