Sarah Eller

As Interviewed by Jamie Dawson, on March 30, 2014

Sarah Eller: In Her Own Words

I wanted to become a teacher, and I wanted to be able to work with kids in small groups, and really help the kids that needed help. I had a good education growing up. I had some really good teachers, and I actually enjoyed school, so that was part of the reason that I decided I wanted to become a teacher when I got older. It was more just kind of my own education history. I went back to school to get my degree in education, and started teaching. This is my fourth year teaching kids with special needs.

I think it has helped me in a lot of ways, because I learn how to see things in other people’s perspectives, and really kind of think through where people are and what they’re going through and how it affects them, and that affects how you deal with other people. I think just learning how to become a teacher, in general, has helped me learn how to be patient and really learn how to help at home, and have that patience and understanding, and try and figure out what my kids really need at home, to help them as much as possible. I really enjoy teaching children with disabilities, because I’ve learned as much from them as they have, hopefully, from me. I think it’s helped me grow as a person, to try and become as good as a person as I can, and try and just grow in a lot of ways, and that’s really helped me.

I am currently working with preschoolers, but I’ve worked, in the last four years, with all ages of elementary. There’s a big difference in elementary between right now I’m working with really young kids so we’re working on very beginning skills, beginning reading skills and social skills, and when I’ve worked with the older kids, it’s very different. We’re able to work on much higher skills. Right now, it’s usually about probably seven or eight students to one teacher, but it can kind of depend on classrooms, as well. I’ve dealt with a lot of different disabilities. My favorite part of being a teacher is really working with the kids and getting to spend time with them, getting to know them, and seeing them grow and develop and mature.

I think my students will be successful after they are done with school. They might learn things in a little bit different way, but I do think they will be successful, absolutely. They’ll, like everybody, face different challenges because our society a lot of times sort of has paths for people, so I think they’ll have to learn how to adjust and learn in their own way, and do things in their own way, and learn how to be successful in their own way, as compared to some of the other paths that are expected for them.

In the school system, I think things work very well, a lot of kids are getting the services and the help that they need. I think, just making sure that, and it happens a lot already, but making sure that all kids are included in everything as much as possible, I think is a very important thing. All kids are part of the school. My students interact and treat each other generally very well. Social skills and building friendships is always something we’re working on, but in general they treat each other very well. My students enjoy learning. I think all kids enjoy learning. They might not like doing some work here and there, but I think all students like to learn. The students within the school are, from what I see, very well accepted. They have friends, and it’s, as I said, part of what they’re learning in school is how to build friendships and social skills, but it’s a great school environment.

I very much enjoy working with the students. I think they’re great. It’s fun to get to know them, so I very much enjoy teaching. In general, I hope that my kids are enthusiastic about what I’m teaching. That’s an important part of my job, is to make sure I’m teaching in a way that the students are really enjoying and learning and excited about what they’re learning. That’s a very important part of my job. You have to learn how to teach things in different ways with a lot of kids, cause everybody learns in different ways, so a major challenge is learning how to teach things in a way that can help them understand what you’re trying to teach them. It’s kind of being creative in different ways. Part of what working with younger kids, is we’re working on a lot of social skills and learning how to be in a school environment and learning how to get along with other people. My students really do enjoy coming to school and enjoy learning new things. They’re usually very enthusiastic. I have a good relationship with my students. It’s about learning that balance of being their teacher and teaching them but also building a good relationship of trust for them so that they can still be comfortable and have a good learning environment.