Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Reflecting on My Semester

Things are starting to wind down. After a semester of projects, papers, lesson plans, field experience, and class discussions, all of us students in the School of Ed are preparing for the end of the semester push. As I finish my last few weeks of regular classes, it's natural for me to reflect on what I have learned this semester. Hopefully, my explanation of my class schedule will give you an idea of what a day in the life of a student in the School of Ed is like, and what you'll learn as a student who takes on a major in education.

I've been taking five classes this semester, and because I'm an English ed major, many of them involve the study of teaching English. First of all, I have Intro to Teaching Writing (ENG 433). It is a three credit class that I go to for 55 minutes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. In this class, I learn the most effective techniques for the instruction of writing. What are the best practices? What about traditional writing instruction is now considered archaic, and what should we do instead? How do we encourage students with writing apprehension to come out of their shell and get their ideas on paper? The answers to these questions help us to become the best writing teachers we can.

Next, I have Creative Writing (ENG 305) on Monday and Wednesday for about an hour and a half. The class name is fairly self-explanatory. We have worked on analyzing and writing short fiction as well as short stories. I've been able to get in touch with my creative mind and do some free writing, which is something I've wanted to do for quite some time. It has also increased my confidence in my ability to evaluate and comment on student writing, which is obviously beneficial for someone who plans to be an English teacher.

Another class that I have is Shakespeare (ENG 363). I go to it on Tuesday and Thursday for an hour an a half. Again, the title of the class gives away its subject, but it too is very beneficial in fostering my future as an English teacher. We have read four or five plays written by Shakespeare, and have analyzed each of them in great depth. As I plan to be a high school teacher, I will definitely be teaching some Shakespeare. Though this class does not have a focus on education, it has taught me what questions to ask, what assignments are effective, and how to structure a class on Shakespeare that is both effective and engaging.

I also have a psychology class this semester. It is Educational Psychology (PSY 370), and is a requirement for all education majors. It meets twice a week for an hour and a half. We have learned about a bunch of different psychological approaches to teaching and learning (constructivism, behaviorism, information-processing theory, etc.). We have also learned about student motivation, learning styles (and the fact that they don't exist!), and different types of intelligence. All of this will obviously contribute to my teaching in a very big way, and it has helped me to narrow down my ideas about what kind of teacher I'm going to be.

Lastly, this semester I am taking Teaching English in Secondary School (ENG 405). This class also meets twice a week for an hour and a half, but this is also my Field II experience class. As part of it, I have been at Logan High School for about 12 hours a week (Tuesday-Thursday for about four hours). I have had to compile a total of 100 hours at Logan this semester, and I have had many invaluable experiences there. I was placed with Ms. Forde at Logan, and we have collaborated on two sections of senior English and one section of junior English. I do a lot of observation there, but I also have had to be up in front of the class quite a bit teaching lessons. It has been very time consuming and a lot of work, but there is no better way to learn to be a teacher than to be "thrown to the wolves." I have been allowed to make mistakes, and I have learned a great deal from those mistakes and even my successes. These are the experiences that really catapult me toward student teaching and my future career as an educator.

Overall, my semester has been the busiest one yet, but also the most productive. It is when I have learned what it will really be like to be a teacher, and I am so grateful for that. Without these experiences, I would not be as prepared as I will be to enter my first classroom as a teacher instead of a student. I look forward to that every day, and these experiences have not hindered my excitement.