The student becomes the teacher

Theater teacher Kimberly Roberts provides a ‘real-world experience’ in her classroom for her student teacher

Fear. According to Max Cseresznyes, theater student teacher, “fear” best describes what a student teacher feels entering a new classroom for the first time. From the worry of connecting with students to teaching a whole class solo, Cseresznyes’s learning process as a student teacher includes nerve-wracking experiences in addition to rewarding moments.

Kelsey Jones
Cseresznyes is student teaching for his last semester at Ball State. Roberts is mentoring him this semester at SHS.

“I definitely still had the unease of ‘What are these students going to think of me?’ (and) ‘How well am I going to be as a teacher?’ within the first couple times of teaching and the other simple, basic concerns,” Cseresznyes said. 

Finishing his last semester of college at Ball State University, Cseresznyes is studying to be a theater teacher and is currently being mentored by SHS theater teacher Kimberly Roberts.

Before attending Ball State, Cseresznyes went to Fishers High School and was introduced to theater by a friend during his sophomore year.

“As soon as (the theater) callout meeting happened, I was hooked,” Cseresznyes said. 

When it came to deciding what he would study in college, Cseresznyes wanted to combine his passion for theater with teaching because of the role that teachers have played in his life.

“I feel like I could do what (my teachers) did for me for other people and be the person that (students) need,” Cseresznyes said.

As his mentor, Roberts says she believes that it is important to include Cseresznyes in the everyday teaching process as much as possible, which is a value she holds for all of the student teachers she’s worked with. Recently, Cseresznyes was able to take over for Roberts and teach a lesson. When the students had to move around during the lesson, he was able to move with them and help when they had questions or needed guidance.

Kelsey Jones
Roberts helps Cseresznyes teach. She never leaves him to struggle on his own.

Roberts says immersive learning opportunities are valuable for student teachers. 

“I think it’s important that they get real-world experience because they’ve spent a lot of time talking about educating but maybe not always having the opportunity to do it,” Roberts said.

Along with granting him classroom responsibilities, Roberts has also involved Cseresznyes with some of the school’s theater performances. For example, Cseresznyes is assistant directing the spring play, “Almost, Maine,” and was also the deck manager for One Acts. A deck manager oversees the scene changes for a play.

This involvement has allowed Cseresznyes the opportunity to get to know the students on a personal level. Cseresznyes says when he knows the students, he is able to pick out their different traits and think about how to construct his teaching so that every student benefits. 

“I know who’s friends with who and who has problems with who, so how do I ensure that each group can benefit as a whole?” Cseresznyes said. 

The responsibilities also comes with difficulties, but Roberts’s approach doesn’t put her student teachers in situations for which they’re unprepared. She has an introduction process. At first, it’s all about getting Csereznyes comfortable around the students, showing the rules of the class and allowing him to observe her teaching style the first few days. Then, he is able to slowly step into the role of being the teacher. 

“…Just watching Mrs. Roberts teach and filing those types of strategies to utilize for later and just talking with the students, I’m already getting to know so much more about (the students),” said Cseresznyes.

Kelsey Jones
Cseresznyes is always helping students and figuring out the best possible way to help them understand information. Cseresznyes says he has learned a lot from Roberts on how each student has a different learning style.

Getting to know the students starts with simply taking attendance each morning. Then, the responsibilities begin to increase. Cseresznyes starts by teaching a portion of the class and helping out with lesson plans. He then takes over one or two of the activities for the day. As he takes on more of a leadership role and becomes more comfortable, he will begin to teach full lessons while Roberts gives him feedback. 

“As we go farther and he’s making these adjustments and getting his feedback, then I am going to go away a little bit because it’s important for him to have the opportunity to do it on his own,” Roberts said. 

Roberts says that it is important to leave Cseresznyes alone to teach the class after supporting him along the way because walking into a classroom for the first time is “terrifying.” Cseresznyes says that, from this experience, he hopes to build confidence in his teaching and encourage his students.

“…It’s just the confidence in being able to teach what I’m passionate about but also being able to inspire students to know more about theater in a variety of manners,” Cseresznyes said.

The students in theater classes say they notice the effort Roberts puts in to help Cseresznyes learn. They have seen how she communicates with him and makes sure he is involved in what goes on during the class. 

According to senior David Masengale, Roberts helps walk Cseresznyes through areas of the class that he might struggle with as he steps into the role of teacher. Roberts makes sure that she knows what her student teachers need, whether that be that they’re ready to go right into teaching or that they need a little more time to adjust. 

“If he is trying to talk (during a lesson) and he is struggling, she’ll help him through with what to say,” Masengale said.

Senior Katie Berry says that having a student teacher in theater class is different from any other class because theater is a much more personal class. Berry says that this aspect of the class helps to encourage Cseresnyes to engage in different ways with students.

“(Cseresznyes) makes sure he has a professional level (relationship) with his students and then he has a personal connection to them, so he’s seeing both sides (of students),” Berry said.

So far, Csereznyes says his main takeaway from his experience with Roberts is that not all students learn the same way, and he is responsible for finding methods to ensure everyone understands the material.

“What Mrs. Roberts has enforced and bestowed upon me is the different strategies to connect with these students and get to know them more on a personal level,” Cseresnyes said. “To ensure that not only do I get to know them, but I’m able to teach content to them in a variety of manners.”

Through the experience of mentoring student teachers, Roberts says she values the relationships she develops along the way.

“Seeing one of my student teachers from 10 years ago who is now in a classroom teaching and posting on Facebook about their successes in the classroom, that is so rewarding because you feel like you helped with a little part of that,” Roberts said.

After Cseresnyes finishes his time at SHS, he plans to go on and earn his Master’s in either directing or drama therapy or start teaching. But Cseresnyes says he isn’t ready for his time in Roberts’s room to end.

“It’s only been three (or) four weeks, and I’m gonna miss all this come May,” Cseresnyes said. “I’m just enjoying as much of the time I can with the students.”

Julia Brookshire