Child counselor gains grassroots experience

Sumin Park ’22 is majoring in education and youth studies along with psychology in hopes of becoming a child counselor one day. To gain experience working with children, she is currently a student teacher in Beloit and pursuing teacher certification. Sumin welcomed us into her classroom to get a glimpse of her semester.

“I’ve always loved children since I was a kid, and that is why I chose education as my major. Psychology helps me understand how children think, and their psychological development, which helps me a lot when interacting with them,” Park said. “Currently I am applying to teaching jobs but hopefully in the future, I am thinking about child counseling. I am interested in anything with children,” Park said.

Park also hopes to obtain a certification in TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language).

“I’m interested in TESL because English is my second language and I had trouble learning it along the way. I thought, teaching English to non-native speakers, they might have the same experience as me. I think it might be very helpful to them, because I know what they are going through,” Park explained.

Currently, Park is a kindergarten student teacher at Todd Elementary School, in hopes to obtain elementary certification. Park is thoroughly enjoying her time as a student teacher.

“I just love the classroom! I am always excited to go into the classroom because of how they [students] think and interact with me and other friends in the classroom; it is just pure, cute and so adorable. It is really fun seeing them grow and making those tiny accomplishments. Sometimes they just talk about random things that make me laugh all the time and I love it,” Park said.

While student teaching, Park has found some challenges.

“I observed this class when I was taking EDYS 300 last semester, so I was able to gain some connections with the children which helped me. However, I was their friend last semester and now I am their teacher. So now I feel like they are having trouble setting their boundary with me, but my cooperating teacher is helping me a lot in that way,” Park explained.

Going into student teaching, Park had a few concerns.

“I was actually concerned about me being an international student and teaching. I was worried the parents would be concerned about someone from outside of the U.S. teaching their child, but they were really open. Some of them are happy, because I am bringing a new culture to them, which is very nice,” Park explained.

Park, being from South Korea, has shared some of her own country’s culture with her class.

“It was recently Lunar New Year, so I introduced what it was and how we celebrate it in Korea. I brought lots of snacks. They love it, and I love trading snacks with them as well,” Park shared.

COVID-19 has had an impact on her kindergarten students 

“They are falling behind academically and half of them are not meeting the expectation. They are, nonetheless, getting there,” Park explained.

Looking back on her time at Beloit, Park remembered that one of her classes proved to be very influential and beneficial to her student teaching.

“I think EDYS 300 helped me a lot. I don’t like readings personally, and in this class we had hands-on experience. We went to the classroom and we observed and interacted with kids. We got to see how teachers are using their strategies in the classroom,” Park said. “I am aiming for younger kids. I feel like classroom management skills are more important than instruction itself, and that observation helped me have a wider view of how to not discipline the children who are not doing as well, but rather praising the students who are doing their best,” Park shares.

Park left advice on student teaching for all EDYS students.

“I was freaking out until the first day of student teaching, because I didn’t have enough confidence and English isn’t my first language. But they are little kids and they will just love you as you love them, so have confidence, have fun, and don’t be scared!”

By: Tracy Ehlers
February 21, 2022

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