A bunch of second graders are singing along to a YouTube video of a Spanish nursery rhyme “Los pollitos dicen” about a chicken taking care of her chicks. One boy is so overcome by the song that he covers his face with his hands and says, “This song is so beautiful!”
These are the kinds of stories that Camille Ramasastry, senior, gets to experience every day at Holmes School in Clarendon Hills. Ramasastry is one of 20 students in a program called Invitation to Teach, a program in which students are given the opportunity to work at a local elementary or middle school at the end of the school day for the semester long class. She explained that she had to do an application process to get into the program.
“You have to apply, interview, write an essay, and teachers fill out a form to rate how good of a student you are,” Ramasastry said.
In her bilingual second grade class, Ramasastry helps with math, reading, Spanish, and physical education. “I do everything from making copies and grading papers to leading small groups and co-teaching lessons,” Ramasastry said. She wants to eventually teach high schoolers, possibly history, English, or Spanish. So far in the experience, she expressed that she loves the students from Invite to Teach and Read to Lead.
Ramasastry’s least favorite teaching characteristic is negative reinforcement. “I understand that it does work for some students, but I’m one of the sensitive kids who always needs positive reinforcement to keep me motivated. Keeping the classroom positive is important to me.”
She hopes to be a teacher that makes the students feel comfortable and cared for. “I think it’s fair to say that we all love those teachers who make a point of connecting with us on a level that is higher than that of teacher and student. I want to be a teacher that the kids will go to when they want to vent about their problems or tell a funny story or talk about what they’re planning on doing this weekend. Teachers who show they care are the best,” Ramasastry said.
She has tried to take these characteristics that she is fond of from her current teachers into the elementary classrooms she’s visited.
“I love making a bond with the kids and being someone that they look up to and think of as another parent when they’re at school away from their own parents,” Ramasastry said. “I love knowing I have the power to teach someone something they never learned before. The moment when something I say clicks for them and they understand, it is a great feeling.”