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"You Learn From Them Too:" Insights from an Elementary Education Student

Updated: May 10, 2023

Meet Courtney Lynn Caiña

Courtney is a loud n' proud Elementary Education student here at BYU's McKay School. She is fast-tracking over the summer in order to be ready for her internship this Fall. She will be teaching her own 5th grade class at Riverview Elementary in Spanish Fork!

Courtney always knew she wanted to teach, but she took a winding path through Art Education, English, and Chinese before deciding on Elementary Education. She realized that she didn't have to settle with one specific topic--she could teach it all!

As she dove into the Elementary Education program, Courtney thought that she would eventually teach 1st grade. Again, her plans changed when she was offered the opportunity to teach a 5th grade class for her internship. She realized that this age group fits well with her fun and sassy personality.

Advice for Incoming Students

Courtney may have found her path through the McKay school, but many of us are still navigating our way through the program. When asked what advice she could give to incoming students, Courtney said, "Seriously, pay attention in class." The education classes here at BYU build on one another, helping prospective teachers understand principles of management and theory without receiving an overload of information. "You don't see it at first," Courtney continued, "but there is a big picture to why we do everything the way that we do."

"You Learn from Them, Too"

It may have taken Courtney some time to decide on Elementary Education, but it didn't take her long to see the impact she could have on the lives of her students through teaching. "It’s huge knowing that these kids spend more time with you than they do with their families," she stated. Courtney realized how, as a teacher, she can influence all aspects of the lives of her students for good. She continued, "You become a big part of their life in building relationships, and even just helping them know that they can be successful." However, teaching isn't just about giving your students new information. Part of being a teacher means you are constantly encountering new situations and ideas; it opens up the prospect of lifelong learning. “When you think of teaching, you often think that I'm a teacher standing in front telling kids what to think and say," Courtney stated, "but you forget that you learn from them, too.”

Value in Teaching

When asked about what she thought the value of becoming a teacher is, Courtney stated, "I think it’s huge knowing that you’re making an impact on these kids’ lives." However, Courtney also realizes the amount of responsibility teachers have to help each individual student. It's a lot of work, preparation, and pressure. Rather than focus on the difficulties, Courtney believes that even though there is pressure, "It’s also such a huge reward when you see a kid reach that ‘lightbulb’ moment and you think ‘Yes! I helped them get there!’" While the responsibility is great, teachers have the opportunity to help each individual student succeed and discover their strengths. As Courtney expressed, "There’s so much value in being the person that helps them recognize their potential."

If you would like to chat with a current Elementary Education student about your questions, visit our Contact Us page!

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