In 2022, the bell will ring to signal the start of another day for Mr. Bird and his earth science class at Blue Valley High School. Students will rush in to take their seats in a classroom filled with Grateful Dead posters and Kansas City sports memorabilia.
A typical day for the earth science teacher will consist of reviewing his lesson plan he made the day before with possible topics including climate change, tectonic plates or how rocks form. Lecture will go smoothly, with minimal distractions from highly interested students. For lunch? Shrimp poppers and a side caesar salad to fuel him through the afternoon until coaching soccer practice.
This will be just another day in the life for teacher and coach, Mr. Bird.
At least that is what Ryan Bird, junior in secondary education, hopes 2022 will look like.
“I want to be able to influence young people the way that my teachers influenced me, and I enjoy how students keep me young and keep me laughing,” Bird said. “They’re pretty funny. I also love having summers off. It’s a dope schedule.”
All before the climate change lectures, intense soccer practices and shrimp poppers from the cafeteria, Bird sits in Bluemont Hall soaking in the type of content that he will share with students in his future classroom.
Bird’s current day-to-day schedule as a secondary education major consists of balancing classes, working a job, keeping up with an extensive workout regimen and maintaining a modest social life, which he hopes will get him to where he wants to be in five years.
“I really want to teach in the Blue Valley School District, as well as coach soccer and basketball,” Bird said.
Bird gained his first field experience in front of a classroom last fall at Junction City High School.
“I spent two hours, three days a week at the school and helped teach a chemistry class,” Bird said. “I was surprised at how quickly I was able to connect with the students there.”
Bird said being able to connect with students and being patient is important as a teacher, and that teachers need to have great interpersonal communication skills.
“(Students) might stop working on you, but you can’t stop working on them,” Bird said. “I think I can relate to a lot of the students, because I wasn’t the perfect student throughout grade school.”
Bird will start the block portion of his education next fall and spring. Blocks are similar to student teaching, but more geared towards testing the knowledge acquired through education classes. They are used as a way of testing out teaching to see if it the right career path.
Mackenzie Nelson, senior in special education, is currently teaching a block.
“In my block, I teach math, literacy and social studies,” Nelson said. “I love getting to know the kids in my class, and my favorite part of the day is when they all run up to me with hugs and say, ‘Hi, Miss Nelson.’”
Riley Clark, junior in secondary education, has known for a long time that education was his strong suit.
“Growing up, I had always known that I liked working with youth and working with peers,” Clark said. “During high school I had two really great professors, Mr. Ballew and Mr. Wilson, which were very influential in my becoming of a teacher. They chose to take an investment in me and saw potential in me, which was great.”
Nelson said her love for kids is something that is typically synonymous among education majors.
“It is aways my favorite part of my week, and something I look forward to,” Nelson said. “It makes me so much more excited to become a teacher every time I go.”