Skylar, a freshman at the University of Nebraska, is an instructor at Civic Nebraska’s brand-new Community Learning Center at Lincoln’s Randolph Elementary School. A member of the Teacher Scholars Academy at Nebraska U.’s College of Education and Human Sciences, Skylar is studying elementary education with a minor in English Language Learning, so she’s adding to her experience every day during her time at Randolph. We caught up with her recently to learn about what makes her job special.
I started at the Randolph CLC in August. I was recommended by Ms. (Monica) Jochum, the principal of Randolph, and I have had siblings attend this school. So it’s always been close to my heart. I was really interested because I was looking for a school-year job that involved working with kids. Working with them is really important to me, and of course, it’s beneficial for my career goals.
The best part is working with students who don’t get the attention they need. I enjoy giving students the one-on-one time that they don’t have when they’re not here at school. I find a lot of students that are on the goal sheets or labeled as “behavior students” are those who truly have good core values. They just don’t know how to express them.
My favorite part is showing students that they are noticed. And that, no matter what is on a piece of paper, it doesn’t define them. I’ve worked very closely with a couple of our “behavior students” and it’s a great reward when they understand that they aren’t just a behavioral student.
My lesson plans vary each week. I try to keep them current with world news. There was a week where I did the weather. We made some water volcanoes. I did that lesson because of Hurricane Dorian, and we talked about something we could do in our school to help those far away.
We did a self-care week to help them understand when they’re frustrated, why they’re frustrated, and how they can help themselves. I also ask the students what they would like to learn about. They’re some of my best feedback. I get a lot of my lesson plan ideas from them!
I definitely see students gaining during one-on-one time. They get a very close relationship with all of the Randolph CLC staff. We tell them very, very often about how much we care about them and how much they mean to us.
There can be a very big gap between who you’re friends with and who you accept. At CLC, we emphasize being kind to one another. Our CLC students learn to help embrace one another.
The biggest thing I hope kids take away is understanding that mistakes happen, but it’s how you deal with those mistakes that matters. We have students here who didn’t finish one problem on their homework and it could ruin their whole day. I try to emphasize with them that it’s not about that one homework – it’s how are you going to go about today to make it better? I tell students: “As you are kind to others, kindness will come back to you.”