I remember telling people four years ago that I was accepted into the teaching program. Although I can recall excitement and proud sentiments, one phrase was said to me more frequently than anything else: How nice it will be to have such an easy major!
At first I laughed, because I thought they were right. I would learn how to stand in front of a classroom and teach children by using textbooks and fun activities. I would walk in, talk all day, and have students take tests and write journal entries, then leave because my job (or so I thought) was done. I went into this program very naïve of how much work a teacher truly does to have a successful classroom with motivated and engaged students. So as I went on, I got defensive of that comment because it was simply not the case at all!
As I prepare to leave this university, I must say that a degree in education is exhausting, intense, and requires a ton of dedication. Teaching requires an initial passion, and if the candidate does not have that, the work and effort is simply not worth it. But I knew teaching was my passion, so I put in my hard work and effort every semester, every class, and every assignment. It is important to note that not every class will push you to your fullest, and that's okay because they were still interactive, hands on, and engaging. However, the classes that pushed me the most, are the ones that I now feel fully competent in the material. Two professors especially, Dr. Melissa Burnham and Dr. Julie Pennington, taught intensive, rigorous courses during my program. They both required me to put in all my energy, focus, heart, and soul into the assignments, tutoring sessions, and practicum experiences. Because of these two professors and their classes, I feel competent in the areas of knowledge they taught. I now know what it's like to reflect, analyze, and critique my work in order to give students a great learning experience. I am experienced in creating detailed lesson plans, building focused activities using curriculum and common core standards, and setting specific goals for individual students to achieve in their learning development.
As I walk across the stage this May, I want people to know one thing and one thing only: this degree was a labor of love. It was not even an ounce of easy. This degree meant changing my weekly schedule to include practicum hours, lesson plan sessions, and meeting peers in the LRC's graphics room to make materials for our students. Lastly, this degree showed me that teaching is not an easy profession, but rather a profession that requires a passionate, skilled, and dedicated candidate. After my experience in the College of Education, I believe I am now that passionate, skilled, and dedicated candidate, ready to start my teaching career.