A brief interview with Azariah (Oz) Kurlantzick (class of 2020) about their summer internship and what it taught them. We hope this will be informative for Majors and Minors, especially those interested in education or the MAT program here at Clark.
What was your internship, name and brief description of activities?
I was a Teaching Fellow for Generation Teach at their Western MA location in Holyoke. I taught two Reading classes for rising fifth graders with a curriculum provided by Generation Teach and two Coding classes for middle schoolers of any age, for which I designed the curriculum myself.
What are some things you learned from this internship?
I learned a lot about connecting with younger students, as I had had no previous teaching experience with students younger than fourteen. I had also never been in charge of a classroom over a period of time because my previous experience was mainly with teaching workshops and volunteering in other people’s classrooms, so I learned a lot from having to manage a classroom over a period of five weeks and seeing the same students every day.
How did this internship align with your goals/your degree?
This internship aligned with my goals and degree because I was teaching young students how to engage with text, which is something I am learning to do as an English major and also something I would hope to do if I continue in my current path towards becoming an English teacher.
What was a funny/interesting/strange experience you had with it?
It was really fun to teach and interact with middle school students. Although the age group has a bad reputation (which, I’ll admit, is somewhat deserved), there was hardly ever a day when none of my kids made me laugh.
What was one thing you wished could be improved?
I wish there had been more people who were there for the sole purpose of serving the students. The goal of the organization is to produce teachers and the Teaching Fellows were there to learn to teach, so none of the staff was focused only on making sure students were safe and happy. Many of our students received much more individual support during the school year, so a lot of behavioral issues arose from that lack of support, and because of a shortage in staff, especially staff dedicated to improving our students’ experiences, we were ill-equipped to handle that.
Would you recommend this internship, do you have recommendations about internship for other English students?
I would recommend this internship, but I would encourage those who apply to find and talk to someone who has worked there in the past, because although it was an important experience, it was not what I expected. For students interested in Generation Teach, I would also recommend looking into Breakthrough Collaborative, which is a similar organization.