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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Servant Leadership: Beyond the Classroom

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 11.47.12 AMThroughout my LDR 200: Introduction to Leadership course, I’ve had the opportunity to learn about many of the theories and approaches that help define what leadership is. For the duration of the semester, my classmates and I were split up into groups; each group was responsible for creating a workshop for a specific theory we given. Now that we

Now that LDR 200 is coming to a close, I’ve been thinking a lot about how these theories we’ve learned (even th12417568_625062540980523_9015609560789164536_nough some of them are hundreds of years old) are applicable to our everyday lives as college students.

One of the theories presented in LDR 200 that really resonated with me is the Servant Leadership Theory. Not only is my own leadership philosophy centered around this concept, but I believe that as a college student, servant leadership is nearly everywhere.

The Servant Leadership Theory is a philosophy and set of practices that enriches the lives of individuals, builds better organizations, and ultimately creates a more just and caring world.

12938074_625062574313853_7982738962821157617_nFor instance, this semester I joined the Student Michigan Education Association (SMEA). As our Outreach to Teach Community Service Project, we devoted an entire week during the semester to painting the inside of Ganiard Elementary School. Ganiard was looking for ways to make their school more of a warm, welcoming environment for their staff and students. SMEA members came together and spent more than 60 hours total at Ganiard prepping walls, stenciling, and painting. At the end of the week, our devotion to this project paid off and because of our efforts, the students and staff at Ganiard will have a warmer school environment.

Through this project, we displayed many of the characteristics of being a servant leader. We listened to other SMEA members’ ideas various ideas for the school and also collaborated with school officials to ensure we could provide what they11218480_625062567647187_9138030472145902539_n needed.

We developed a sense of empathy to better see what types of paintings would make students happy and comfortable to be at school.
We became aware of the impact our dedication to this project would have on staff and students at Ganiard.
Through this project, we built an even stronger community within SMEA as we each had a shared passion for teaching and the impact this project would have on the school.

I am so grateful for the opportunities I have every day at CMU that continue to inspire me to be a servant leader.

 

 

LAS in The D: Post-Service Reflection

12439428_10153662261279075_6020222316778167839_n.jpgThis past Friday and Saturday (April 1st and 2nd) I had the incredible opportunity to travel to Detroit, Michigan with 47 of my closest LAS friends to learn more about the city and give back to people in need. Little did I know these two days of service, adventures, and learning would open my eyes to a new sense of appreciation for this city.

Bright and early at 9 am on Friday Morning, we packed our bags and boarded the bus to Detroit. With a 3-hour bus ride ahead of us, I was tired and excited; I couldn’t wait to see what was in store for the wee12932994_10153662256084075_9142314577018864473_nkend.

Our first stop on our service trip was the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, a charter high
school located in Detroit. As a future high school teacher, I was really excited for the opportunity to facilitate service projects with high school students. During our time at JRLA, we were split up into small groups consisting  of 4-5 LAS students and 4-5 Jalen Rose students. Throughout the day, we did different service projects with these students; we made signs for Special Olympics Athletes, wrote cards to veterans, and so much more. Interacting with Jalen Rose students one-on-one and learning more about them and their various backgrounds throughout the day was one of my favorite parts of the entire trip.

12936660_10153662258959075_8687728559541065439_nAfter facilitating at Jalen Rose, we headed to Pizza Papalis, an authentic pizza restaurant located in the heart of Greektown, for some dinner. During our time at Pizza Papalis we had the opportunity to connect with LAS alumni over pizza. It was really neat to talk to LAS alumni about both their experiences at CMU and how LAS propelled them to do great things in theDIA.jpgir future endeavors.

Our next stop on the trip was the Detroit Institute of Arts. Although I have been to the DIA several times before, I was really excited to walk around and explore the exhibits again. The last time I visited the DIA I was in 7th grade and I feel that visiting again as a college student has given me a new appreciation for the art there. Instead of rushing through all the exhibits, I found myself looking through each exhibit to gain an understanding of what was going on in that specific area at a particular time. Visiting the DIA helped me gain a new sense of appreciation for art.

A few hours later, we were back on the bus on our way to the Outdoor adventure center.jpgOutdoor Adventure Center where we would be spending the rest of our night. Before this trip, I hadn’t heard of the Outdoor Adventure Center, but it is such a cool place. It was basically a hands-on museum about the Outdoors and the environment. Staying the night at this place made me feel like I was experiencing night at the museum. There was even time set aside to explore the place as we wished, which was awesome.

CASSBright and early on Saturday morning, we headed off to CASS Community Social Services to spend the last few hours of our trip volunteering. CASS is an incredible organization  that provides food, health care, housing, and job opportunities to the people of Detroit. For our two hours of service at CASS, we were split up into three groups which each had their own specific task to accomplish. One of the job opportunities CASS offers people of Detroit is to shred papers. Many businesses, churches, and other organizations send their confidential papers to CASS to be shredded. Once these papers arrive, CASS is able to hire people to help sort the papers and shred them. For our two hours of service, my group was selected to aid in the process of shredding papers. While at12472655_10153662261904075_3750832391916377496_n first I was like “How hard can shredding papers be?”, it was actually quite a bit of work. Someone would be in charge of putting the papers on the conveyer belt and then the rest of us had the task of seperating colored papers from white papers; if it was white it stayed on the belt, but if it was colored, it had to be removed and placed in a separate crate. While this seems relatively simple, it got progressively harder when hundreds of papers were on the belt at once and the conveyor belt was moving extremely fast. Overall, I enjoyed my experience volunteering at CASS and I’m grateful that through our few hours of service, we were able to help an organization that does so much for the people of Detroit.

LAS in the D was by far one of my favorite weekends of my freshman year. I am so grateful I had the opportunity to give back to the city of Detroit and immerse myself in the culture. Detroit is so much more than the stereotypes it has been given and I hope that I can continue to learn more about the city.

 

Start With Why

Why-PicWhy are you alive? What is your purpose on Earth? What do you want to be your legacy?

At some point in our lives, we’ve pondered these questions and questioned our purpose on Earth. Whether someone directly asked us, or we had thought about it when we were unable to fall asleep, the purpose of life is a question many of us have asked.

But in our day to day lives, how often do we think about our purpose? How often do we make decisions that don’t actually align with our purpose?

why simon.pngThis is exactly what Simon Sinek discusses in his TED Talk, How Great Leaders Inspire Action. You see, people are drawn to purpose. People didn’t rally behind Rosa Parks because she merely gave up her seat on a bus; they rallied behind her because they supported her activism for racial equality. People don’t buy Apple Computers because they “look nice” (well, I’m sure some people do), they buy them because Apple markets their purpose is to enhance their consumers’ life and make technology easier to use.

So in the midst of all this talk about purpose, I questioned my own purpose.

Why do I get up in the morning? What am I passionate about? What do I want to change in the world and how am I going to do it?

In LDR 200, we were asked to create a why statement. Everyone’s why statement starts with “Inspire others to..” and then it was up to us to make our why statement our own. It only took me two worksheets and a few inspirational youtube videos to really get my creative juices flowing.

a47f04615a394cdb46fcac25cad1b7a6And then, boom, my why statement hit me like a big yellow school bus.

“Inspire others to live passionately and grow endlessly”

As soon as I wrote those words on paper, my heart glowed. I knew that these very words described my purpose on Earth. I believe wholeheartedly that life should be lived with passion and that everyone can always grow into a better person. If I could inspire someone to do anything, it would be to live a life filled with passion and always strive to be better than the person they were yesterday.

Though I may have figured out my why statement, I am excited to challenge others to find their why and wholeheartedly incorporate it into their everyday life.

 

 

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.