Posted in Miscellaneous

Why I Chose Elementary Education as my Major

Some people might ask, “Why did you choose elementary education as your major?” It’s a great question and every individual in the elementary education program might have a different answer. My mom was an elementary school teacher and although she stopped teaching when I was very young, I heard about a lot of neat things that were part of being a teacher. Growing up, I would often use her school supplies and create a pretend classroom in our playroom. I would set up desks and have worksheets… it was a blast! I have also been an avid babysitter ever since I was 12 years old which has given me great experience with working with children. I love kids and I love playing with them. One night, probably nine months ago, I was babysitting for a family in my ward and they asked if I would help their son write a talk to give in Primary at church the next day. I consented and was excited! Jack, who was six, was in the process of learning how to write, spell, and sound out words. He chose an article in the Friend magazine and I read it to him. It gave him an idea for his talk. I helped him write it and I was just in heaven as he sounded out words and really “got it”. It was not the easiest thing, but it was so worth it in the end. There were definitely a lot of eraser crumbs on the counter when we were finished, but I loved it!

That’s when I had a feeling inside of me and realized that as a teacher, I could feel that way all the time. To see the light in Jack’s eyes and to feel my excitement for Jack’s understanding meant the world to me! That experience really solidified my desire to be a teacher and now, here I am, a freshman at BYU, on my way to becoming just that! I have talked to other BYU students about different majors and the qualities that an individual should have in order to pursue a certain major. When speaking of teacher education, people tend to say, “You have to like little kids to be able to do that” or “You have to have a lot of patience to do that”. I feel that those are some gifts that I have been blessed with and I am best able to use those gifts to bless the lives of others in the elementary education program here at BYU.

What made you choose a major in education? Does the major that you chose enable you to use certain gifts and qualities that you have been blessed with?

Posted in Miscellaneous

A Successful Learning Experience

Latter-day Saint author Dan Wells said, “Until you’ve given yourself permission to fail, you will never succeed.” The beauty of this quote is the assurance that no one can succeed if they haven’t first accepted fallibilty will come.

I am so glad my mom sent me this quote after a hard week at school, because it brought me back to reality that in school and with teaching, it is okay to make mistakes. It is in those less-than-perfect moments that we grow and learn.

“Failure” is a hard word for any dedicated student, and I believe it is particularly hard to accept here at BYU, where much is expected of each of us. As a freshman I would call my dad in tears and moan that because I was not performing at the level I wanted, I was a failure, and didn’t deserve to be at BYU. Being the kind and wise man that he is, he gently reminded me that everyone feels that they fall short at some time, especially in a rigorous environment such as BYU; however, as long as I try again, failure is not the ending destination.

With those words in my heart and mind when other tests, assignments, or evaluations didn’t turn out as well as I would have liked, I used them as a motivator to make goals to do a little better for the next time. Throughout the rest of my collegiate career, I used any frustration as a stepping stone to make goals to do a little better and try again. When I look back at the time I spent in classes at BYU I realize I would not have been as dedicated if I hadn’t given myself permission to make mistakes, because then I never would have seen the improvements and successes along the way.

Now, as an intern for BYU (which counts as the status of a first-year teacher), I am re-learning the importance of deficiency in various areas and giving myself permission to fail in a new setting. I thought that I was accepting of failure after the talk with my dad that freshman year, but I never contemplated how I would feel as a professional. That is the beauty of learning and education: we are constantly learning the same principles and growing from them.  

Though it is hard for me to welcome moments of inadequacy, I am glad my mom sent the email mentioned  in the first paragraph. The advice . Success only comes through repeated failures. Why ‘repeated?’ Because if you fail and then give up, you’ll never succeed. You have to have the courage to fail again and again, because with each failure you learn, you make adaptations, you tweak whatever it is that you’re working on until–Voilá–YOU SUCCEED!”

Failure is hard: it’s hard to accept and live with, but it is monumental for our growth. Without failure, there would be no success, for there would be nothing to compare our successes to. As a student and as a teacher I have learned and am continuing to learn this timeless principle, which to me, is a success in and of itself.

Now I ask you, how do you feel about failure and success? Are they both necessary in learning experiences? Why or why not?

Posted in Miscellaneous

The Effect of a Good Teacher

David O. McKay once shared, “In God’s great garden have been placed overseers called teachers, and they are asked to nourish and to inspire God’s children.” Throughout my early elementary school years, I had two teachers who both nourished and inspired me. My third grade teacher, Mrs. Kelly, was very inventive in her teaching strategies. She taught my class to learn the multiplication factors through song. She taught us about the pioneers by having us write a short story about life as a pioneer and taking our picture in our log cabin classroom. She would read us “Stories with a Hole”, little riddles that taught us to think creatively and out of the box. Mrs. Kelly taught us to serve one another. Every week, she would choose a student in our class to receive the B.U.G. Award, or the Being Unusually Good Award. Mrs. Kelly did many things that made learning and interacting in the classroom fun!

Here’s my pioneer short story that Mrs. Kelly bound into books for each student…

Mrs. Weers, my fourth grade teacher, was another influential teacher in my elementary school years. Mrs. Weers had my class participate in many activities that brought our class together like a big family. For example, Mrs. Weers had my class sit in desks that were organized into “teams”. As we worked together and were kind to one another, we earned points. At the end of the quarter, there would be a reward for the team with the most points. Stars were the overall theme of Mrs. Weers’ classroom. The points that each team earned were represented by stars. For Christmas, Mrs. Weers made each of her students a star ornament. Then, at the end of the year, she gave us a star frame with a picture of her with each student, individually, and included a poem about stars on the back. She brought out the inner star in each one of her students. Mrs. Weers taught me the importance of working as a team, but she also taught me how important each person on the team is.

Each student in my class made a folder of “Snapshots of 4th Grade” that held memories from that year…

In my folder, here was my response to what I want to be when I grow up…

As a future teacher, I plan on using some of these strategies in my own classroom. I want my students to learn good values as they are a part of my class and I want those values to be built into activities that we do on a daily basis. I love how Mrs. Weers used this strategy with teamwork. I would like my classroom to be a place where everyone fits in and where there is plenty of participation and interaction within learning. I want to have a small bulletin board for a weekly spotlight of each child in the class. I want to make the classroom more than just sitting down learning. It’ll be hands-on. I would like to make learning fun and enjoyable. I love how Mrs. Kelly helped us learn multiplication factors through song. That was so effective for me, as a student, that I still remember the songs that she taught us! Those songs might not have helped every student in my class, though. I cannot wait to learn here at BYU how to use different teaching strategies to reach out to different students because I recognize that not all kids learn the same way. I hope that through the things I learn at BYU that I will be able to be an effective teacher and influence each child that will walk through my classroom door.

Through effective examples I have seen in my own elementary school teachers, I’ve learned that one good teacher can have a huge effect on a student, whether it be brightening a child’s day, helping them learn to read, or even just smiling at them. In my case, these teachers helped me realize that I want to be a teacher too! Was there a teacher that left a profound impact on your life early on? What did they do that left such an impression? Are there techniques that those teachers used that you plan on using in your own classroom?

Posted in Miscellaneous

Why I Picked Elementary Education

My name is Stephanie Johnson, and I am from a little town near Atlanta, Georgia. I am a freshman majoring in elementary education, working on my general education requirements and planning on applying to the education program soon. I am super excited to share my experiences with you!

If you look at my old school things, there’s a mirror made from yellow construction paper and tin foil in shaky kindergarten letters, “It’s clear to see I want to be a teacher.” People often ask me why I would choose to be an underpaid, under appreciated elementary teacher, when I could be anything I wanted. The answer is hard to explain. For one, I really love little kids. I love their laughs, their cheesy jokes, their innocence, and especially their ability to love and forgive whole-heartedly. My instinct is to help them and protect them in whatever way possible. For another, the education I get from my major will help me to be a better mother, which is my ultimate dream. I also really enjoy helping people understand things and I have patience for that. I like the idea of being able to use what I have learned and the skills I have to teach other people.

I have had the opportunity to test out my skills in a classroom. I did an internship my junior year in a kindergarten class, and it was the best class I have ever taken. I looked forward to it every day and missed it so much when it was over. I learned so much about being a teacher and about myself. I did all the tedious parts of a classroom, such as cutting out little booklets and stapling them together, or cutting out a billion frogs. I had those days where I had a headache and the kids were not listening to what I asked them to do. I understand, though, that it is worth it when you see the light go on in that one child’s eyes when she finally gets what you have been explaining to her over and over.

The wall from our kindergarten class

One of my favorite students was a little girl who was one of the youngest in our class. She had trouble sounding out words, and it was often delegated to me to help her with her writing. She didn’t seem to make much progress over the school year, but I did my best. At the end of the year, each student presented me with a letter and a picture. The letter this particular girl wrote looked like a jumble of letters, but my mentor teacher told me that she insisted on writing the whole thing by herself. I can’t read it, but that letter means so much to me.

I love the saying, “teachers touch the future.” The elementary age is such an impressionable one, and I can’t wait to be an influence for the good. How will the major that you have picked make the world a better place? I would love to hear your opinions!