Reflection on my first education course

The first two weeks back in the chair of a student have been interesting to say the least. I feel as if it’s much more laid back from the student perspective since I am not worried about graduating or even getting my education certificate. Without that stress, I am able to thoroughly enjoy the class. On top of that, I do not have nearly the workload that I had as a full time student (one class versus 5) which allows me to fully focus on this course and its content.

My vocation of teaching

As a class, we’ve been talking a lot about vocation, and so far I feel as though my vocation involves teaching but less in the sense of a traditional K-12 teacher. As an instructional technologist, I find myself teaching others on a day-to-day basis. Whenever I can teach a faculty member or a student some aspect of technology that will enhance their life, such as making a website, I find that as a personal win. Any teaching strategies I learn or any takeaways I plan on directly applying them to my work.

Aside from the one-on-one support, the Academic Technology department occasionally teaches sessions in conferences. Any methods I learn and insights on what makes a good teacher will be very useful. In fact, we just piloted a Domains Camp which is a day-long event where we teach participants all about digital identity, domains, and web design. Techniques for teaching, such as how to keep a room of students engaged, will come in handy when I plan a lesson.

My educational philosophy

We took a quiz to determine our education philosophy and it was not surprising to me that I sided most with Existentialism. I grew up never quite fitting in and it wasn’t until college that I realized how it was okay to not fit the norm. In fact, I now embrace all different parts of myself. No matter who I’m teaching, I want aspects of my teaching to reflect this. Embracing each individual also helps me practice culturally relevant teaching. While I may be unique in aspects of my own life, it helps me remember that every student in the room has their own identity. 

Characteristics of a good teacher

The past two weeks have led to the most reflecting I’ve done of my childhood in a long time. Reflecting allowed me to pick out which teachers were my favorite and which ones weren’t. In class we were asked to not just reflect on those teachers, but WHY they were or were not our favorites. Out of the top twelve characteristics laid out in Chapter One of The Foundations of American Education, I found the following most important (which influenced my decisions on who was my favorite teacher the most):

  • Cultivate a sense of belonging: This was big for me growing up because I was a very insecure teenager struggling with my mental health. If I felt like I belonged in the classroom, it helped reduce my stress and make me feel safe.
  • Forgiving: Teachers that understood life happens sometimes made the class less stressful.
  • Prepared: Teachers that came unprepared to class immediately set the tone of having the students doing the majority of the work. I much preferred classrooms were the relationship of classwork felt like a mutual one. When this relationship become one-sided, I lost some motivation to complete coursework or even learn the subject if I wasn’t particularly interested.

Looking ahead

I am definitely nervous about the aspect of doing Village Project (volunteering at an after school program at a local school) because I am not the most comfortable around kids. My hope from the experience is to gain confidence for this. While I primarily work with college students, we do have a group of local fourth graders that visit every semester. A confidence around kids will help me interact and connect with the fourth graders when they visit our office.

Aside from Village Project, I am eager to learn even more about teaching and am grateful for this opportunity to take this course.