Above: Brittany Peterson, a senior majoring in Spanish (left) is student-teaching at Ballard High School.
Did you know that, as part of Educator Preparation Program, WLC offers course work for students who are pursuing a career in teaching a World Language in secondary schools? In addition to earning a major in WLC with a concentration in the language they plan to teach, future language teachers also participate in a minimum of 108 hours pre-student teaching clinical experiences, take courses in curriculum and instruction, and complete a minimum of 14 weeks of student teaching.
One of our current student teachers is Brittany Peterson, a senior majoring in WLC (Spanish). This semester she is student-teaching with Mrs. Jill Chongo at Ballard High School. We asked Brittany why she decided to become a language educator and what challenges and rewarding experiences she has had at Ballard so far.
1) How did you decide to become a language teacher?
I had a great Spanish teacher in high school, and I have always known I wanted to be a teacher. I started out as an elementary education major, but after working with teens at a summer camp for a couple years and coaching I realized I was meant to work with high school students. I couldn’t see myself teaching anything other than Spanish because I have always loved other languages and cultures, and I knew that was what I wanted to continue learning.
2) Is there a particular teacher / life experience that has shaped the way you teach (would like to teach) yourself?
My calculus teacher in high school had a huge influence on me. It was always so obvious how much she cared, and she made calc fun, which is a feat in and of itself! My semester abroad in Cusco, Peru has also had a huge impact on how I want to teach. It has awakened my passion for social justice, and I’ve already had the opportunity to include things I learned about poverty and global development in Latin America in my teaching.
3) If you’ve done any student teaching, are there any experiences you would like to share? What has been your biggest challenge / your most rewarding experience?
We are reading a short novel in Spanish IV that highlights poverty in Ecuador, and I conducted a poverty simulation in order to better understand the situations we have read about. I split the students into 5 different families ranging from 1 very rich family to 2 families living on less than $2 a day. The students went through 4 weeks in the families’ shoes trying to survive the situations put before them. We then reflected upon the experience in class, and the discussions were extremely deep. The empathy students felt for these families, and the understanding of the stress put on them daily was amazing to see. Their understanding of poverty in Ecuador skyrocketed in a way that is almost unrealistic without actually going to Ecuador and seeing the poverty first-hand. This was the biggest challenge and most rewarding experience. I’ve never put together something as big as this project, but it was a huge success! I spent a lot of time organizing this activity, and the learning students gained was totally worth it!