This is the fifth in a series about student internships at Asbury University. Follow these links to read about media communication major Josh Jones, journalism major Leslie Ferrell '14, political science major Bethany Wallace '15 and Equine and Business major Libby Vandervennet '14.
Arlie Martin ’14 remembers the moment when God called her to be a teacher.
She was a junior in high school, taking a tour of Asbury with her aunt, Jean Howell, an Asbury employee. When she passed the King Curriculum Lab, a resource center for education students, she stopped.
“I remember looking in the big glass windows at the curriculum lab, and I knew that this was where I was supposed to be,” she said. “I very distinctly heard the voice of God saying, ‘This is it — this is where you’re supposed to be, and this is what you’re supposed to do.’”
After high school Martin acted on that calling and enrolled at Asbury as an elementary education major. Now, a few weeks into the Spring 2014 semester, she is living out her calling as a student teacher at Wilmore Elementary.
Martin sees education as an opportunity to ministry to children’s needs, not only educationally, but spiritually and emotionally.
“As I’ve gotten further along in my studies, I’ve really come to see how much of a mission opportunity it is,” she said. “I never knew how much of an ‘in’ teachers have with young students and with their parents, to be able to show Christ through action, and beyond just telling them they should believe in God. It’s a really good way to display your faith each and every day and build strong relationships with people, and you can do that anywhere in the world.”
One of the things Martin has learned as a student teacher is the patience to wait while students process concepts their own pace. Martin says she helped one student with a math problem for a month before she saw progress.
“We had moved on, but it was still incorporated into a lot of the math things we were doing,” she said. “I was sitting at a back table with him, and I said, ‘Now, just remember that when you do this, if you have a three-digit number, you’re going to have three boxes that go along with it.’ And he sat there, and all of a sudden, he goes, ‘Wait! The number of digits and the number of boxes is always the same!’ And I said ‘Yes — always the same.’”
The student took the paper back to his desk to work. When he brought his work back to Martin, he had correctly worked every problem.
“It didn’t really have a lot to do with me saying it, but just taking the time to sit there and work with him and listen to him,” Martin said. “It was one of the most rewarding moments of my life.”
Listening is a crucial part of being a good teacher, Martin says, and the surprising openness and honesty of students gives her plenty of opportunity for it.
“Because you carry the title of ‘teacher,’ they see you as someone they can fully and completely trust,” she said. “Every minute, I have kids saying, ‘Ms. Martin, I want to show you this,’ or ‘Ms. Martin, I want to tell you about this,’ or ‘Ms. Martin, I’m really sad because of this.’ It really is amazing, and disconcerting at the same time, because you know that these kids are just putting their emotions out there, and you know that you’re responsible for not only their physical safety, but for their emotional wellness.”
Even though the responsibilities of teaching can be intimidating at times, Martin says her classes at Asbury gave her the tools she needs.
“I feel so well-prepared,” she said. “One day this past week, my teacher was out sick, and she came and said, ‘Hey, this is our lesson plan — you’re just going to teach the full day tomorrow.’”
Martin was assisted by a substitute teacher, but she did all of the teaching herself.
“The classroom management went well, the lessons went well, they did all of their work and they understood the concepts,” she said. “I leaned a lot on what I learned in my courses, and it went so smoothly. I know this is going to sound like such a plug, but Asbury really does do a phenomenal job of preparing us for the classroom.”
For Martin, being a good teacher means being like Christ. Even when she is tired, or stressed, or finds it hard to be energetic, she says she remembers how her students depend on her and she tries to model the unconditional love of God.
“You’re always going to have those students who test your patience, but at the beginning of the day, it’s a clean slate, and you have to come in like it’s going to be the best day ever,” she said. “It’s all about forgetting the wrong things that students can do, and coming in with a new and fresh perspective, just like God does for us when we stumble. God love us at all times, and I think that loving students like God loves them is the best way to shine that light.”
--by Joel Sams ‘15