Shelby Oelmann

Shelby gains a different teaching perspective

Shelby Oelmann always knew she wanted to be a teacher. As a kid she would play classroom with her friends, and as she got older, some family friends noticed Shelby’s ambition and allowed her to volunteer in their classrooms. When it came time to go to school, there was no doubt in her mind she wanted to teach.

This past summer, Shelby worked with children on a military base in Italy through the program, Camp Adventure. Her experience there furthered her desire to have her own classroom someday.

“I love the challenge of trying to get kids to behave,” she said. “Or trying to feed them new knowledge. Because of that I know teaching is my passion.”

Shelby’s Block 1 practicum taught her a new side to teaching. She was placed in an elementary school in downtown Des Moines. The classroom was more diverse than she was used to. Students came from difficult family backgrounds, which led to some violence among each other and difficulty paying attention in class.

Right away, Shelby knew she needed to gain the children’s respect by setting a strict curriculum.

“You have to scare them right off the bat,” she said. “Of course you want your kids to love you, but you also need them to respect you. Structure will do that.”

After that, Shelby continued to come up with new teaching methods to keep the kids engaged.

“We always tried to keep them active,” she said. “We did things like ‘brain breaks’ where the kids would do 10 jumping jacks after a few math problems. Every day we had to come up with something new.”

Shelby enjoyed the challenge. She said it was difficult, but she thinks every teacher should have an experience that challenges them.

“I feel like every future teacher should have a diversity experience like this,” she said. “It makes you think outside the box. It challenges you and helps you learn about different cultural backgrounds.”