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Getting ready for the first day of school

Taylor Jorgensen Emery will have a bookshelf full of books that students can sign up to read at their own pace. Among the books she plans to teach are Leon’s story and The secret garden.

Become a Sixth Grade English and Social Studies Teacher

In early August, Emery’s classroom had bare walls, a few boxes of unpacked books, and neat rows of student desks (an arrangement she hopes to change). But the first day of school was still twenty days away.

“It is a work in progress !” Emery said, looking around. “It’s a good easy process.” As she walked around the square space, talking about her plans, the classroom in her imagination became very clear.

Preparing the room, creating inviting nooks, filling it with books and dedicating wall space to student work “is a way for me to show my students that I care,” she said. “The room will be energizing, but it will also be comfortable.”

Each spring, Bowdoin Teacher Scholars graduate a new cohort who typically find positions at schools starting the following fall. After completing the rigorous spring semester program, prospective teachers have a summer to prepare for their new jobs, develop lesson plans, and set up classrooms.

In early June, Saint Dominique Academy (his alma mater) offered Emery the position of sixth-grade English and social studies teacher. One of her first acts when she entered the space was to carry several streetlights, which emit a soft orange light from different corners of the classroom.

A garland of starry lights

Emery adds softer lights around her classroom to avoid turning on the ceiling fluorescent lights.

She also hung a string of shining stars around one of the whiteboards. She believes this alternate lighting scheme creates a comfortable and inviting space for students, sparing them the harsh glare of fluorescent neon lights.

Another of his preliminary adjustments was to move the professor’s desk to the back of the room. “I don’t need them staring at their teacher all the time,” she said. “Besides, it’s sneaky. I can see what they’re doing on their Chromebooks!”

One of the tall floor lamps will illuminate a reading nook with a soft rug and ottomans or comfy armchairs. She fills the adjacent bookshelf with her required reading—all the great novels and memoirs—and a wide assortment of books that students can borrow at any time.

Emery, who grew up in the Augusta, Maine area, said she always loved literature — one of the reasons she turned to majoring in English at Bowdoin.

As for her major in education, she had initially considered becoming a high school teacher, in part to nurture the love of learning that she fears some students will lose as they progress through high school. ‘primary school. As a young student, she recalls “losing sight” of what she originally loved in school, finding her joy replaced by a fixation on studying as a way to achieve a goal: get into a good university and then get a good job. .

At Bowdoin, she was surprised and excited when she came across the Bowdoin Teacher Scholar Program on the Department of Education website. This clinched her career decision and she enrolled in undergraduate (the program also accepts postgraduate students).

“I was just assuming you had to do certain things and take certain steps after college to do whatever it takes to become a teacher, which was fine with me, but when I realized I could spend that time here and skip in it and being in the classrooms and engaging in teaching students and being part of a cohort of people doing the same thing, I was like, ‘This is something I want to do, so why not now? ‘ “, Did she say.

She is thrilled to be back at the elementary school she attended for several reasons, one of them being her traditional position in the Lewiston/Auburn community, which has always had a large population of Canadians. French Catholics. “There are a lot of grannies and grandpas here,” she said, referring to French grandma and grandpa affections. Many children are descendants of these early Maine immigrants.

She also appreciates the role of Catholicism at the Academy. “The combination of faith and reason is one of the beautiful things about this school,” she said.

One of the ways she hopes to maintain the joy of learning in her students is to reduce the pressure they might feel to perform. “I want them to know that I’m here to help them, not penalize them,” she said. “I’m here to help them learn and grow, and I hope they see the fun in what they do.”

The school, which houses students in grades six through 12, is small – only about 40 students per class. She is one of two sixth grade teachers. One lesson she plans to apply to BTS is the importance of leaning on your community and asking for help when you need it. “We’ve talked a lot about who your community is and who you can ask questions to, and those questions are okay,” she said. She considers her community to be both her fellow teachers at the Academy and her BTS cohort.

Support mentors can be especially helpful when experimenting with new course approaches, an openness Emery hopes to embrace as a teacher. “I want to give myself the freedom to take risks, to try new things,” she said. “My greatest wish is to keep an open mind and let my creativity run wild.”

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