A Year in Review

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 2.20.00 PMIt is hard for me to believe that just nine short months ago I arrived on CMU’s campus for the first time as an undergraduate student. I was excited, nervous, and anxious to transition into a full-time college student and to enter the “adult world.”

I cannot even begin to describe the immense impact that my first year of college has had on my life. It has undoubtedly been one of the greatest challenges thus far as it has made me look deeply at myself, my passions, and the role I want to play in making the world a better place.

While I could list the numerous clubs I joined this year or some of my most cherished memories, I’m going to keep this post short and sweet by telling you a few of the most important lessons I learned throughout my first year at Central Michigan University.

Lesson 1: Always ask for help

I learned that asking for help is not something that you should do, but something that is of uttermost importance to your success as a college student. Don’t know where your biology lab is? Ask someone. Struggling with a concept in Calculus? Go to office hours and the Math Center. Not sure what classes to take next semester? Make an appointment with an advisor. There are so many people on this campus who want you to succeed and would do anything to help you; make sure you utilize these resources and always ask for help when needed.

Lesson 2: Just because you may fail, doesn’t mean you are a failure

As a college student and someone who holds myself to high academic standards, I felt my heart drop deep into my stomach when for the first time in my entire life, I didn’t have all A’s. I spent hours a day going over calculus notes, doing calculus homework, and studying my butt off for days on end only to receive a B+ in the class. While in high school, I would’ve been deeply disappointed in myself for receiving a grade less than an A, Calculus I taught me that it isn’t the grade that defines your success as a student, it is your work ethic and dedication to understanding the material that does.

Lesson 3: Always, always follow your passion

Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 2.27.45 PM.pngI came to CMU with a strong passion for teaching and education. I knew, with my whole heart, that becoming a High School Teacher was my calling and that with my career, I would be able to positively impact the lives of my students. As I enrolled in my first education course, completed all forty-five of my required observation hours, and joined the Student Michigan Education Association, my passion for teaching has only grown since I’ve been here. I am so grateful that my passion has allowed me to not only take education courses that I have genuinely enjoyed but has also connected me to other students on campus who share the same passion.

Lesson 4: There is happiness everywhere

1e49b39f-6255-45f1-a5ff-a99a8ce05957.jpgWhile being a college student can seem inherently overwhelming with never ending assignments, papers, group projects, and presentations, I have found that there is happiness everywhere, you just have to look for it. There is happiness within the close friendships you form. There is happiness when you get an awesome grade on a test you studied for days on end. There is happiness when the sun rises on the walk to your 8 am Calculus lecture. There is happiness when you sip your favorite Starbucks drink while studying in the UC. College is a place full of endless moments of happiness, you just have to embrace them.

There are many more lessons that I have learned throughout my first year of college and I cannot wait to see what new adventures the next three years will bring.

 

 

 

 

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EDU 107 Reflection

Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 1.16.13 PMMelinda Pellerin-Duck once said that “I couldn’t see myself doing anything else but teaching; it is my vocation. It is part of my life, my soul, and my heart.” Going into my first semester as an undergraduate student, I was beyond ecstatic to be taking my first education class. For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to become a teacher. Once I stepped into EDU 107, I felt like my dream of becoming an educator was actually becoming a reality. Introduction to Teaching has furthered my perception of teachers’ roles both inside and outside of the classroom, helped me view myself and others with a more open mindset, demonstrated how to create a welcoming classroom environment, and reinstilled my love and passion for teaching.

While I have had previous experience working in a middle school classroom as a teacher aide, I’m grateful that EDU 107 has continued to further my perceptions about teaching. One of the most beneficial aspects of this course was that it made me start to think from an educator’s point of view. The more we listened to speakers, talked about different aspects of being a teacher, and actually did field observations, the more I could really see myself having my own classroom. I found this to be especially when I was back at my high school doing my observation hours with one of my favorite teachers. Everything about being in a classroom helping students, grading papers, and facilitating discussion felt so right. It was through these experiences during Introduction to Teaching that helped me start to really think like a teacher.

Additionally, EDU 107 has allowed me to view myself and others with a more open mindset. We spent a significant amount of time in this course discussing student diversity and inclusion. I am an advocate for promoting diversity and I feel that this course has furthered my understanding of diversity really means. Contrary to popular belief, diversity isn’t just about skin color. Diversity is about every person we come in contact with having a different background, different beliefs, and different perspectives. During class, we did an activity that really helped me redefine diversity; we had to answer a few questions about ourselves, our background and then share our answers with others. Although our class is not very racially diverse, we all differed within the answers to our questions. EDU 107 has truly helped me broaden what diversity means.

Walking into Introduction to Teaching every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday was a breath of fresh air. I absolutely loved coming to this class because teaching is something that I’m very passionate about, but I also really loved the classroom environment. Unlike most college classes, the atmosphere in this room was always warm, welcoming, and friendly. I think that part of what created this warm environment was the interactive component of the course. If this course was set up in lecture format, the environment would’ve been more formal and professional. However, since the content was very hands-on and interactive, I felt that it created an environment where students felt comfortable to share their experiences and collaborate with other students. In my future classroom, I will definitely arrange the furniture so students can sit in groups because I feel that groups allow for discussion and collaboration that traditional rows do not.

Even though EDU 107 has come to a close, my heart is still set on becoming a teacher. I know in my heart that being in front of a classroom of students and helping them succeed, both academically and personally, is my purpose. My teachers have been some of the most inspirational and influential people in my life; they have challenged me, changed me, and empowered me to be the best me I can possibly be. I want to be that person for my students. Education is one of the most powerful tools in the world and I want to make learning fun. I want to help my students to enjoy learning and help them understand the immense value and purpose that education serves in our society.

After much pondering and doing field experience in both middle and high school level classrooms, I have decided to pursue a Secondary Level Certification from the state of Michigan. I believe that being a high school teacher is really the place for me to be. As a high school student, my teachers did an exemplary job developing meaningful relationships with me and showing me that there is more to learning than simply taking a test. My characteristics of being empathetic, kind, compassionate, and dedicated would allow me to fulfill the role of being an excellent high school level educator. Becoming a high school teacher would allow me to develop my own relationships with students and help them find value in learning as well. One area that I plan to further develop myself to becoming a phenomenal high school educator is finding how to motivate students who simply don’t value their education. I plan to develop myself in this area by gaining experience working directly with these types of students during my field experiences and find out what motivates them.

EDU 107 has been a very rewarding, eye-opening, and intriguing course. Throughout this class, I was able to gain new perspectives about teaching, broaden my definition of diversity, and gain insight on my future teaching style and objectives. Through this course, I have reconfirmed that teaching my passion, love, and purpose. The meaningful discussions, readings, and experiences have truly impacted me as a future educator and I know that I will carry the content learned in this course throughout my journey to becoming an educator.

Dreams do Come True: Observation Hours @ HHS Part 2

It was a blessing spending an entire school day observing one of my favorite high Screen Shot 2015-10-24 at 2.08.51 PMschool teachers. In high school, Mrs. Street was my World History teacher, Economics teacher, and my Student Leadership/Student Council Advisor. As one of her students, Mrs. Street was always someone I thought was a phenomenal teacher. After my day of observation, I’ve learned that what makes her such an incredible educator is her genuine care for her students, her interactive, meaningful lessons, and her inviting, warm, and welcoming classroom culture.

During my day at Holly High School, I observed two classes of 11th grade Economics and two classes of 9th-12th grade Student Leadership. Although I graduated from Holly High School and have already completed a full day of observation there, I did notice some new differences in the students. Observing predominantly upperclassmen students was very different than observing freshmen. These more mature upperclassmen almost found it hard to stay on task and complete the assigned task because they “simply didn’t want to” whereas when I observed freshmen, they just seemed to be confused about the expectations of them, still trying to adapt to high school level courses. Additionally, it was the day of HHS’ Annual Pink Football Game and the students were very lively, especially the leadership students who planned the event, and were excited to get through the day and experience the Pink Game Pep Assembly and the football game later on that night.

HHS Administrators, Mrs. Street, a few leaderships students and I after the Pink Game Pep assembly!

HHS Administrators, Mrs. Street, a few leaderships students and I after the Pink Game Pep assembly!

One aspect that makes Mrs. Street such a phenomenal educator is her adaptability to different learning styles and her ability to engage students. In economics, Mrs. Street utilized independent work time, turn and talk to a partner, and class discussion to ensure she was meeting the needs of all her students. In leadership class, the instruction was completely individual work time so students were able to complete various tasks such as spirit day counting, selling t-shirts, and painting posters. The hands-off teaching in leadership allows students to take control of their learning and leadership experience while Mrs. Street is there to support her students and help when necessary.

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Mrs. Street’s Pinterest-y classroom

If you look up a picture of the perfect classroom, a photo of Mrs. Street’s classroom would most likely appear. Her classroom is one of the warmest, inviting, welcoming classrooms I’ve ever been in. I really loved how all the inspirational quotes and decorations made students feel so at home in her room. Additionally, although you’d expect a classroom with many decorations and even four large comfy chairs to feel cluttered, there was plenty of space to move around and the classroom did not even give off a cluttered vibe. As I saw students become so at home in her room when they entered, I came to the realization that I want to decorate my classroom so it has a warm, welcoming climate where students feel at peace.

My day of observation at Holly High School was a true learning experience. I discovered the difference between freshmen students and upperclassmen students within the classroom and the effect that a large event, such as the Pink Game, can have on students’ learning throughout the day. Additionally, I was reminded that it is essential for students to have lessons that encompass all learning styles and is both relevant and meaningful to them. Also, Mrs. Street’s picture-perfect classroom gave me ideas to make my future classroom as homey and welcoming as hers. I’m grateful for all the lessons I learned throughout my experience observing Mrs. Street and I’m excited to translate these learning experiences into my career as an educator.

Dreams Do Come True: Observation Hours @ HHS

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Mrs. Wheeler and I after my day of observation was complete

Spending an entire day in the classroom with one of my biggest inspirations guiding and encouraging me was an absolute blessing. My day of observations at Holly High School inspired me and allowed me to bring my passion for education into a high school classroom. Spending an entire school day working one-on-one with students and assisting them confirmed my love for teaching and my lifelong dream to become a teacher.

During my day at HHS, I observed four 9th grade classes of Digital Assist, a required class for freshman students that helps them transition from middle school to high school and acclimate them to the different aspects of technology utilized in the classroom. Having graduated from HHS, I previously thought that my school was not very diverse. However, after all of the diversity discussions we’ve had in EDU 107, I was more aware of diversity present within the classroom now than I was as a student. While the students were not very culturally diverse, they were diverse in other ways such as having different learning styles, varied socioeconomic status, and different behaviors. I felt that Mrs. Wheeler did a wonderful job in reaching oHolly_High_School_logout to all of her students and making sure all of their needs were met.

Additionally, Mrs. Wheeler utilized various types of instruction to ensure she reached all students’ needs. She started the class with a discussion based warm up question that was both relevant to their current assignment and related back to the real world. Essentially, she made her students ask, “why does this matter?”, which I feel is a very important aspect of education that I will incorporate into my future classroom. Additionally, she gave independent work time for students to use Macbook laptops to continue working on a digital project. During this time, I was grateful to be able to walk around the classroom and work with students one-on-one and assist them with any questions they had or help they needed. Making classroom content relevant to the real world is very important and I know that I’m going to incorporate that philosophy in my own classroom.

When I was one of Mrs. Wheeler’s students, I always felt at home in her classroom and when I returned to observe her, I immediately felt the same way. What made her room unnamed-8 so warm and welcoming was the way she decorated it. The two bulletin boards in the room were decorated with inspirational quotes, infographics, and also helpful information such as emergency procedures. There were inspirational quotes on the whiteboard, canvases on the walls, and even uplifting messages on the cupboard doors and behind her desk. The classroom was also set in small groups to encourage discussion and collaboration with the students. I’ve always dreamed of making my classroom feel like a second home and I definitely will utilize inspirational quotes, uplifting messages, and arrange the room so it feels like a comfortable atmosphere for students.

My day at Holly High School reinstilled my purpose and my passion for teaching. By watching one of my favorite high school teachers who made class so engaging, interesting, and meaningful; I gained an understanding of how how I can translate those qualities into my own classroom. What I loved the most was working one on one with students and knowing that I was able to help them or just be someone to talk to. I know in my heart I’m meant to be a teacher and my observation at Holly High School has only fanned the flames of my lifelong dream of becoming an educator.