Posted in Elementary Education Preparation

What I Wish I Would Have Known

Now a senior, there are some things I wish I would have known as a new student in the Mckay school from the very beginning. I remember on that first day of ElEd 302 (the beginning class for teaching management techniques) my professor, Dr. Losser said that though we would learn some wonderful techniques, all that knowledge would be forgotten once we got into the classroom. At the time I laughed and thought, “I hope not.” Little did I know how true that statement could become. Here are some things I wished I would have known or at least anticipated better before starting my first year.

I wish I would have known how difficult it would be to remember best management practices. In the elementary education preparation classes we are taught to use proximity, positive praise, and private warnings. Though these are all simple practices to follow, it is easy to forget them when a child is acting out. I wish I would have known that there were going to be days when I would forget the techniques I was so explicitly taught. I guess that is why experience is the best teacher.

I also wish I would have known how to effectively set up a classroom. Part of me really wishes there was a “How to…” class so other elementary school teacher educators like myself could learn the most effective way to set up a bulletin board, where to buy the best school supplies, when to spend money on school supplies, and how to set up a classroom. On the other hand, I know that I would not have been as invested in making my classroom my own if I only used other ideas. Deep down, I am so glad I was given the opportunity to try again and again to make my classroom an attractive and safe learning environment.


Finally, I wish I would have known that there are going to be many mistakes made and that is alright. While I was listening to my professors talk about their experiences in the classroom, I imagined that I could be like them. However, I didn’t realize that they too had to go through the daily stress, wear, and work that all teachers have to go through. Nobody starts out perfect, and I shouldn’t have expected I could start perfect either. I’m learning that perfection takes time, effort, service, and practice–LOTS of practice! It’s exciting, knowing that I can improve and while I wish I would have known more before entering the field, I’m glad I’m learning through doing now!

What do you wish you could know about the major, or for those of you who are alumni, what do you wish you would have known? I would love to hear your thoughts.

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Posted in Secondary Education Preparation

Student Teaching Away From Provo

Having grown up in sunny Arizona, it can be difficult to adjust to life in Provo during the winter months. Snow is almost foreign to me since winter in Arizona is comparable to Utah’s springtime. I have many friends who share my lamentation over the colder months, and many of them have looked for ways to escape Provo so as to avoid the snow, ice, and general gloominess. Some of these friends have taken a semester off to study abroad, teach English overseas, intern in warmer regions of the United States. This leads many education majors to wonder if there is a way to spend time away from Provo and still get college credit towards their education program requirements.

The McKay School offers two distant learning opportunities that education majors can take advantage of during their student teaching experience. These are opportunities for students finish their education programs with real schools and in real classrooms outside of Utah.

The first program allows students to complete their student teaching in Houston, Texas. The Aldine School District hosts this program, and takes student teachers from universities all around the United States including BYU.  This program offers students the chance to work in culturally diverse classrooms making it a great option for those who plan on completing their TESOL K-12 endorsement practicum alongside their student teaching. While students who choose this option are required to find their own housing in Houston, the school district offers some assistance in finding suitable apartments in safe, convenient locations. The Aldine School District also requires students to bring their own vehicle to Houston.

The second program is hosted in Washington D.C.  This program allows students to experience inner-city schools first hand. Currently, the mentor teacher who oversees this program is a BYU graduate who acts as a liaison for the student teachers and the public school system.  She also offers BYU students tours of the city’s major historical sites. Since housing is a large expense in D.C., the McKay School offers to subsidize a portion of this cost. Students also do not need to have a vehicle for this program since public transportation is the most efficient way of traveling to the schools. It is also important to note that while Washington D.C. does offer a culturally diverse teaching experience; students who plan on completing their TESOL K-12 practicum experience cannot do so in Washington D.C.

Student expenses for these programs include the cost of travel, housing, food, transportation to the school and normal BYU tuition. Those who are interested in either program should attend a general information meeting that is typically held during the first few weeks of each semester. They should apply for student teaching just like any other education major. In addition to applying for student teaching, candidates for these programs should obtain two letters of recommendation from faculty members. The forms for these letters are found with the student teaching application form.

For a long time, I was very interested in the Washington D.C. program. Since I am a TESOL K-12 minor and plan on completing my practicum alongside my student teaching, I am unable to take advantage of this opportunity. Many who have taken advantage of these programs find their experiences at inner-city schools very rewarding. Additionally, there is a certain feeling of confidence that comes to student teachers who succeed in these programs. While teaching out of Provo might seem like a ‘trial-by-fire,’it is an excellent way to gain added experience. For those looking to take a semester away, whether to avoid of the impending winter or just to get a break from the campus life, I would add this as an options.  It is a great way to experience a the world without getting behind in your education program.

I would like to invite any of you who have applied for one of these programs to share your experiences. Where do you wish to do your student teaching? What factors helped you decide to apply? For those currently in one of the programs, how has your experience been so far? I would love to hear from you.

Posted in Miscellaneous

My Experience at Freshman Orientation

Kristie Hinckley is a freshman at BYU who has decided on education as her major. Kristie will be a guest blogger for the McKay School Blog. Her first post documents her perspective of teacher education from the very beginning of university life: Freshman Orientation.

Thursday, August 25

We checked in for orientation at Helaman Field, met our Y Group, and played games.

Convocation was held in the Marriott Center. This was the first time that I had ever been in the Marriott Center and it was awesome! Ryan Greenburg, BYUSA President, spoke, along with Cecil O. Samuelson, President of BYU.

Lunch was held at Helaman Field and then we headed off for a campus tour.
We began at the Service & Information Fair. It gave us an opportunity to sign up for different Y Serve Service Organizations. We also got one of these BYU cinch bags.
We had dinner on our own and then went to the Tradition of Honor Activity in the Marriott Center. It introduced the Honor Code and showcased the BYU dance team, a BYU football player, and a BYU student band. We got some sweet seats!
Next on the agenda: Y Photo & Rise Up Rally
This was very neat. I had not been to LaVell Edwards Stadium in years. It was very organized. We all sat inside the rope markers to form a huge Y of the Freshman Class.
Here’s a picture my Dad took of us in the Y formation…

Friday, August 26

At 8:00am, we met our Y Group and headed to the morning devotional. The devotional was by Todd Parker, a professor at BYU. He taught us about the unique opportunity of being able to attend BYU religion classes.

After the devotional, we split up for the College Showcase portion of orientation. I headed to the McKay School of Education. We split into groups and learned about different majors within the School of Education. These included: Elementary Education, Early Childhood Education, Physical Education, Communication Disorders, and Special Education. This was very helpful. I learned that the Elementary Education Major now includes Kindergarten through 6th Grade, rather than different programs for K-3 and 4-6. Also, a degree in Elementary Education now includes the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) program. I’m so excited to be a part of the Elementary Education program!

Afterwards, we met with our Y Group, ate lunch, played games, and met with our Freshman Mentor, Catherine. We talked about our fears, why we are excited to be at BYU, and how Catherine can help us out during the semester.

Lastly, we had an Evening of Traditions. I went bowling with some other girls from my Y Group and then to Helaman Field to watch Tangled.  It was lots of fun!
New Student Orientation was a fabulous experience. I learned a lot and met many new people with whom I can walk to classes and interact with on a daily basis. Thanks NSO for a great introduction to a wonderful University! Go Cougars! What activities have helped you to get involved in your major, or even to get acquainted with University life?

Posted in Elementary Education Preparation

How the Secular and Spiritual Meet in Education

Light is Everywhere

One of my favorite quotes is, “The glory of God is intelligence, or in other words, light and truth.” Ever since I started to question what knowledge was, my father would always quote this passage of scripture to me, and it made me think harder about what intelligence really was.  I have found that intelligence is both secular and spiritual, especially in the field of education.

For example, as students understand truth about any secular subject, their lives are more filled with the light of knowledge and understanding. Their way of thinking is broadened to accept new ideas when they are taught various strategies in math, reading comprehension techniques, and tolerance in social studies. Though they are learning secular subjects, it makes a great difference when a teacher has an open attitude. Then students will be able to feel the truth of the lessons taught, and their spirits will be touched.

I will never forget the day when I was working in a first-grade classroom and teaching a read-aloud lesson from “The Rainbow Fish” and emphasized loving and appreciating who you are as a person. After reading the story and telling the students collectively how much worth they are to many people, I saw a light in their eyes I had never seen before; one that reflected truth and understanding. That day, the secular met the spiritual.

The secular and spiritual meet in education as every learner realizes that the more of the world they come to learn about, the less they really know. Secular knowledge is good when it is balanced with humility. This concept first came true for me as I entered college. Though I was learning so much more about the world and how it functions than ever before, I knew that I still had so much more to learn, and it would take a lifetime to learn it. I’ve never felt discouraged though, because I know that as I continue to search “out the best books words of wisdom,” I’ll be filled with more light and truth.

For those of you who are more interested in how the secular and spiritual meet in education, I highly recommend the book, “Learning in the Light of Faith,” by Henry B. Eyring. This book shows how the spiritual and secular really do meet together.

Are there some of you who have felt that the secular and spiritual do meet in public education, though one is not addressed?