Levi Colglazier, a senior at the ILC, is in his second year of interning at Methow Valley Elementary, working in kindergarten and first-grade classrooms.
Not only has Levi learned valuable skills in working with elementary-aged students – a skill and experience he may draw upon as he considers a future career in education – but Methow Valley Elementary students have benefited from the extra support that Levi has been able to provide. Somewhat recently, Levi sat down with ILC Internship Coordinator, Kelleigh McMillan to reflect upon and describe experience. Here’s what he had to say:
Kelleigh: I’ve had the opportunity to see you in your internship, working in the classroom with the students. It’s obvious that they really like you. Why do you think the children connect with you so easily?
Levi: Since I worked in the kindergarten classroom last year and then in the first grade classroom this year I know some of these kids pretty well. They see me as a playful person. I’ll run around with them and some of them see me as a big brother type and as a friend.
Kelleigh: What is your favorite part about your time working with these students?
Levi: They make me really happy. No matter how hard of a day I’m having, when I walk in that door and the kids are so excited to see me it just turns my day around and puts me in a good mood.
Kelleigh: What do you think the biggest thing you have learned about working with children through your internships?
Levi: I think it’s really interesting how students all think differently from one another and how they solve problems differently. When I move around the classroom and the students are all working on the same assignment and I visit with them one-on-one, I see how differently they each approach their learning.
Kelleigh: What is something that you’ve learned about yourself through this work?
Levi: How to have more patience. I’ve learned deep breathing techniques to use when I’m frustrated and learned how to always keep my cool. These are things that I’ve also been able to help the kids with. I work with a student who gets really easily frustrated. I take him for walks in the hallway and teach him how to take a big deep breath. One day while I was in the classroom but not working with him he was having a really hard time and I watched him from across the room take a big deep breath and asked the student who was bothering him to please stop. He did those things and then reported to me what he did, and that it helped.
Kelleigh: It looks like you take a lot of pride in that, being able to help others move through a hard time. What would you say your biggest challenge has been?
Levi: Sometimes I feel like I’ve used up all of my tools and I’m at a loss as to what to do next. I just approach the students one at a time through conversation and I ask the student to explain to me what they’re working on in their own way. This helps me refocus and remember why I’m here.
Kelleigh: Now that you are in the spring of your senior year, what do you envision for yourself after High School?
Levi: I never thought it would be an option for me to do this as a job and sometimes I don’t think very well of myself, but this experience has shown me that it’s possible to do this work as a job and be good at it. Suddenly I feel like I have a lot of options and being a substitute paraeducator in the Methow is one of them.