My name is Rachel Osterhaus. I was born and raised in Wichita, Kansas and lived there until the summer of 2006. My childhood was a happy one; I was blessed with two caring and supportive parents, two creative and loving sisters, and our outgoing & eccentric baby brother. I attended Saint Elisabeth Catholic grade school and Bishop Carroll Catholic high school in a large community which taught me the values of stewardship, companionship, as well as teamwork. After graduating from Bishop Carroll high school (a 5A school) with honors, I made the decision to move to Manhattan, KS and attend Kansas State University to pursue a bachelor’s degree.
My experiences at K-state opened up many doors for me. As a freshman, I was uncertain of the profession I wanted to pursue. I have always had passion for literature and writing, but due to my involvement with Big Brothers Big Sisters and a high school mentoring program, I soon discovered that running as deep, if not deeper, in me was a desire to share, to inspire, to pass on some of my own passions to the community. The kids I worked with inspired me to pursue a bachelor in Secondary Education with my emphasis in Language Arts.
In the fall of 2008, I boarded a plane and landed in Canberra, Australia to participate in K-State’s International Study Abroad Program. While living in Australia I was exposed to many different cultural lifestyles and individuals who taught me the beauty in diversity. Additionally, due to some course work I did there, I have been motivated to explore further education in the future and attain a second emphasis or masters in teaching students with disabilities.
As I step closer to entering the teaching field I believe I carry with me an arsenal of personality traits that describe my strengths. My beautiful parents instilled in me a gentle and patient nature as well as determination and spirit. I believe that in order to successfully work with students, patience is going to be vital, as well as, determination in the face of a future undergoing vast changes in social, cultural, and economic statuses. I have found that I have a passion for watching others learn while sharing my talents wiht them. I thrive helping them grow in whatever way I can.
For several years in high school I worked in the toddler room at a daycare. While the work was in fact exhausting for a teenager, I looked forward to being there every day because everyday a small miracle would occur: Tommy would take is first steps, Susan would say her first words, Jenny would giggle. Every day I reaped the reward of being a part of a child’s growth and development. Student Teaching, during the past several months, has allowed me to continue enjoying this exciting field while further polishing my teaching skill set
In addition to patience, gentleness, determination, and spirit, I also carry within me a creative and flexible mindset. During the past several years I have traveled in Europe and Australia and much of the United States learning more and more about our diverse and beautiful world. I have learned that no matter how planned one’s itinerary can be, road blocks and detours are certain to occur. I feel that in the classroom, despite the hours of planning and preparation, the unexpected should be expected and being capable of adjusting to and making the most of these minor alterations is of value. Having the charge of a classroom full of unique individuals is no small task, and naturally, each day is going to be a little bit different from the previous, different from what I planned; fortunately, I enjoy creatively working through problems and understand that flexibility just ends up adding a bit of spice and flavor to each day.
Of course, while I am optimistic about my strengths and my ability to be a good teacher, I don’t deny that there are foreseeable struggles for me in the field. The number one challenge I anticipate is “leaving my students in the classroom.” Often, I find myself growing very emotionally attached to the people in my life. I can see this being troublesome when I am dealing with hundreds of kids a day, and thousands of kids in a career of teaching. Every student will be special to me, but my goal is to learn to balance the emotional attachment toward them, their triumphs and trails, with a professional outlook toward their success.
Additionally, as a novice teacher, I believe my greatest weakness at this time is simply stated: inexperience. Teaching is an organic profession that requires and open mind and a desire for life long learning. It will take years of experience to believe myself an accomplished educator. Those years of gaining knowledge and skills are a part of the journey that instill in me a sense of desire for accomplishment and professional development.
And of course, I will struggle to make it through mornings when the coffee pot is empty!!!
To me, the purpose of education is to open doors. The reason I have gone to school and and spent so many countless hours buring the candle while grading persuasive essays, journal entries, unit exams, and preparing daily lesson plans as a student teacher, is because those hours of labor intensive work have opened doors in my mind, my imagination, and doors for my future. Students, as they grow and develop through the years, discover potential they never realized they had. They discover passions and ambitions they never would have dreamed they would. Education is essential to the development of a brighter future, a future full of promise and inventiveness. It is an opportunity and it creates opportunities. Education exists to open doors for students - and their educators - to teach them about themselves, the world, and help them guide the future.
When it comes to considering how my students will learn best, I believe demonstrating effective teaching skills are essential. Three main criteria are of the utmost importance: clear and organized expectations, comfortable communication, and room for creativity.
Clear and organized expectations are needed because students, who live in a world chalk full of uncertainties, should be given the opportunity to walk into a classroom knowing exactly what to expect and what is expected of them. They need to have a clear goals set for them and a clear understanding of how they are expected to meet such goals. They should be able to find a secure sanctuary when at school - the classroom should be a safe haven and an environment of reliability and camaraderie. Students should feel accepted and rest assured knowing their teacher is someone with whom they can communicate. Part of an educators success relies on demonstrating to the students that as their teacher, they are an approachable professional, someone they can trust and depend upon. Finally, room for creativity is on the top of my list for helping students learn. Everyone has a different learning style and a different way of expressing what is in their mind. Leaving room for creative expression and unique learning styles is essential for my student’s success. As a teacher I hope to stick to these essential characteristics of effective teaching, these ideals that are crucial to helping students learn and grow.
Currently, I am thrilled to finally be entering the professional world of education. My student teaching experience has been an outstanding opportunity for me and has built inside of me an even stronger desire to walk in the shoes of a teacher and continue gaining valuable resources to help me make the most of my career. I can hardly contain my excitement for the road ahead, the thrill of being able to engage with students, and the joy that will accompany each moment of shared learning and teaching.