Posted in Secondary Education Preparation

TESOL K-12 Minor

Katie Couric explained that there aren’t enough teachers to meet the needs of English Language Learners in the United States.  With this in mind, is it worth it to pick the TESOL K-12 minor (Teaching English to Students of Other Languages)  while at BYU?

For a long time after getting accepted to the Social Science Teaching program, I had in my mind a mapped-out plan for how the rest of my education at BYU would go. I listed the classes I still needed to take, organized when I could potentially take those classes, and saw that I could finish my degree in the fall of 2011. I felt accomplished; I had finally organized the remainder of my undergraduate career! In a triumphant manner, I pinned this plan to the wall of my bedroom so I could admire how close I was to finally finishing my degree!

A few days later in my Exploration of Teaching class, my professor admitted that social science teachers often have a hard time finding employment. He explained that most school districts have a surplus of history, government, economics, and geography teachers;  this surplus would make it almost impossible for me or my classmates to find a job. It was then that he offered this one piece of advice, “If you want to be more marketable, pick up the TESOL K-12 minor.”

I knew I had to declare the minor. If I did not, I would have little hope of finding employment after graduation. The next day, I visited with an academic advisor from the McKay School. We created a new academic plan that accommodated the minor’s 19 credits. To my dismay, the plan extended my undergraduate career for an additional semester. When I got home, I begrudgingly took down the academic plan originally pinned to my wall and replaced it with a new revised plan.

I later learned that the additional semester was a necessary inconvenience. In the 2007-2008 academic year, 5.8 million English Language Learners were enrolled in US Public Schools.  Numbers like these have many school districts and some states now requiring teachers to get some type of English as a Second Language (ESL) endorsement. The TESOL K-12 minor through the McKay School is an example of an ESL endorsement program. Those who finish the minor are certified to work with English Language Learners.

While the thought of another 19 credits might scare some education majors away from the minor, the benefits from the minor outweigh the inconveniences. For many secondary education programs, completion of the TESOL K-12 minor will waive three classes that are normally program requirements (ScEd 350: Adolescent Development, ScEd 353: Multicultural Education, and ScEd 379: Classroom Management). It is important to note that these classes are waived only if the TESOL K-12 minor is completed in its entirety.

Additionally, the Teaching English to Language Learners (TELL) classes associated with the minor offer countless resources that can be used in teaching any subject. For example, in TELL 420 (Assessing Linguistically Diverse Students) I have gained access to hundreds of rubrics and grading materials that I would have never discovered had it not been for the minor. Other resources include classroom activities, lesson plans, and language learning tools.

There is no foreign language requirement for the minor, but those who speak Spanish fluently may consider declaring the TESOL K-12—Spanish Minor. This minor not only gives students an ESL endorsement, but it gives them a bilingual endorsement as well. Some states and school districts pay bilingual teachers a generous stipend for their language abilities.

There are several other things I could address about the minor. For general questions, the McKay School has set up a FAQ page. Those interested in declaring the minor should meet with an academic advisor in 120 MCKB.

For those secondary education majors who have declared the minor, what has your experience been with TELL classes?  What are your thoughts on working with English Learners?

Posted in Elementary Education Preparation

How to Prepare for the Internship Interview

How To Prepare for the Internship Interview

So you decided to apply for the internship…now what? Now it is time to start preparing for the interview with the potential principals and facilitators you want to work with from the district you choose. Look back on my post about student teaching or the internship to refresh your mind on what the internship entails. Also, you may find this intern selection timeline for the 2011-2012 applicants useful.

Usually, the internship interview happens in March, and the hiring process starts soon after the interview date. However, I was in New Zealand in March, and wasn’t able to attend the interview in person, so I had to do a video interview in December before I left the States. Similar to the normal interview process I could only interview with one district, and I had to answer several questions. Here is a sample of some of the questions I had to answer:

Intern Interview Questions
*One sentence about your background (who you are, family)·
*One thing about me that people find interesting is . . .
* I did my first cohort work with ______________ district in ______________ semester
* I would like to be an intern because . . .
* I think my strengths as a teacher are . . .
* The one area I am trying to really improve is . . .
* What will help you be an effective classroom manager?
* What are one or two effective balanced literacy strategies?
* What are one or two effective standards based math strategies?
* Being an intern is very hard work and requires far more than a typical job’s 40-hour work week.  What will you do to deal with the stress and workload?

Of course, beyond answering these questions honestly and confidently, you must dress and act confidently and professionally. What do I mean? Well, if you are a girl it is advised you wear make-up, dress in nice dress pants and a flattering and modest blouse, or a modest dress, or a skirt and professional looking top, and have a bright, big smile. For you handsome guys, dress pants, dress shirt and tie are most professional. There is nothing more appealing than a confident, happy person ready to dazzle any potential employer. Here are some outfits I would consider wearing to the interview:

A nice dress
Simple but pretty blouse always makes me smile brighter
A plain modest top with dress pants and flats always looks professional
An attractive top that brings out those sparkling eyes, with nice khakis to match

Though what you wear does portray how you want to be received by employers, the most important thing about preparing for the interview is being yourself. If you are loud and funny, show that personality in your interview, while still acting professional and courteous; if you are quiet and sweet, show that. Never be ashamed of the person you are. Principals will hire you because of who YOU are, so live up to wonderful person you are and get ready to shine!

Posted in Elementary Education Preparation, Miscellaneous

Teaching Experience in New Zealand

A semester before Elementary Education students start their internship or student teach, there is an option to do the New Zealand Semester Abroad. As I mentioned in my first blog post, Incredible Me, I participated in this program, and LOVED it! Here are some of the reasons why:

1. The beaches:

Orewa Beach

Beaches surround the two islands of New Zealand, and Orewa is located on the North Island, close to Auckland, where the 16 of us girls and our BYU professor, Dr. Jacobs, and his wife stayed for the three months we lived in New Zealand. Luckily, beach visits were a frequent experience. The wonderful part of doing a semester abroad in New Zealand during winter semester is that you miss the snow of Utah and enjoy the summer sun of New Zealand since the US and New Zealand are located on different hemispheres.

2. The beautiful land:

A View of Auckland City

Beautiful landscape with green lush meadows and mountains towering overhead was a common sight throughout all of New Zealand, both on the North Island or the South Island. Just being around such open land made me appreciate all the beauty that resides in the world.

3. Home Sweet Home:

I loved the feeling of home I felt the moment we got there. Each participant was assigned a roommate.  Host families took us in, fed us, included us with their family, and showed us some of New Zealand. It was with the people of New Zealand that I felt the most at home. Each person I met was friendly and interested in who I was as a person. I admired how family-oriented the citizens were and the frequent gatherings of family and friends for big feeds, as local Maori (the local people of New Zealand) would call it.

4. The Schools:

Allison in Front of Pomaria Primary School, Auckland, New Zealand

One of the best parts of going to New Zealand was gaining more experience teaching in a classroom under the guidance of a mentor teacher. Though classroom scenarios were similar to what were required at BYU, there were a few differences. First, how schools are named differently. For example, elementary schools are called Primary schools in New Zealand. Second, the students are separated into years, not grades. I taught in a 1st/2nd grade equivalent class, so in New Zealand I taught year 2/3. Third, the curriculum was different. Unlike the States, New Zealand schools determine their own curriculum, as long as they follow the main guidelines from the national educational board. The way they teach and what subjects they focus on is up to each individual principal and school. This gives the curriculum a personal touch, and it was something that really impressed me while I participated in the New Zealand educational system. Finally, we were only expected to do our practicum (teaching and observing experiences) four days of the week instead of the normal five days. That gave us time to travel, rest, sight see, or do homework for our BYU courses on that free Friday.

5. The children:

All the students were delightful and also challenging, just as they are anywhere. I learned more about how I handled stress, what forms of teaching I could improve on, and how better to discipline and love the students. The other teachers also grew in their teaching and their awareness of a new culture.

6. Exploring:

Of course, we didn’t just teach and go to school, we also explored and took leaps of faith as each one of us jumped off a 43 meter bridge! For those who chose to take part in this incredible experience, there were multiple opportunities to explore various caves, dormant volcanoes, cities, and cultural shows.

There is so much to see and do in New Zealand, and three months isn’t very long, but it gave me a taste for the beauty of the land and an experience I will never forget. I am so glad I took this opportunity to go to a place that helped me both with my educational career, and my awareness of others and the contribution they give to the world. The 2012 group has already been chosen, but if you would like to be part of the 2013 New Zealand semester abroad contact Education Student Services, to find out more about this program, or visit the program information site. Also if you are interested, there is an opportunity to participate in the Brazil Exchange Program, that will be beginning this Fall 2011. Both will be wonderful; that I promise!

Posted in Elementary Education Preparation

Student Teaching or the Internship

There you are, almost done with the Elementary Education program, and now you must make a decision: to student teach or apply for an internship. My objective is to inform you, future teachers, about what each option has to offer and the unique opportunities they give.

This is me in front of my bare classroom-before I even started to set it up!

Student Teaching:

  • becomes an option when students don’t apply for an internship; students are automatically signed up once their application has been processed by Education Student Services
  • lasts only for a semester
  • provides an opportunity to observe and work with a mentor teacher
  • does not pay
  • gives students practice teaching a class independently while being observed
  • results in Education Student Services placing student teachers in a district

Internship Candidates:

  • attend a district meeting to meet principals and facilitators
  • choose what district in which they want to work
  • attend an interview meeting with all other candidates
  • interview with principals and facilitators from the district they chose. **I’ll write a full post about preparing for a interview in a future post.
  • receive keys to their very own classroom, which they are responsible for setting up after being hired
  • assigned to a grade and a team
  • receive support from a facilitator
  • get paid half-salary and given first year teaching status
  • commit to a year-long requirement

This decision is not always an easy one. For me, the decision process was bumpy. At first I was determined to do student teaching, thinking it would be easier and it would give me the option to follow a different career path if I so chose. However, as I took more classes in the Elementary Education program and my passion for teaching grew, I felt I needed to apply for the internship and face my fear. Being completely honest with myself I realized why I didn’t want to do the internship: I was afraid—afraid of failure, of not being a great teacher, and of stressing out too much and then quitting halfway through the year. After recognizing those fears, I knew I had to conquer them and apply. I did, and to my surprise, I was hired. At first I thought, “Oh no, I really don’t want to do this, but I know it is the right thing to do.” But now that I am preparing my classroom and a curriculum, I realize that this experience will be really hard, but worth it. I’m going to gain so much experience and more confidence about who I am as a teacher and a person.

I hope the unique characteristics and processes I gave out were beneficial. Both are opportunities you must apply for.  If you have any questions about the application process, the Education Student Services in room 120 of the McKay building is there to help. Seek guidance from trusted college professors, friends, parents, and other people who know you, but make sure the final decision is your own.