Jeffrey R. Holland said, “To teach effectively and to feel you are succeeding is demanding work indeed. But it is worth it. We can receive ‘no greater call.’” I love this quote by Elder Holland. Teaching is so worth it. The children we will teach are of such great worth. Have you had any experiences that helped you realize that your job as a teacher will be worthwhile? What are some things that you will do to remind yourself of that when things get tough?
It’s the week after Thanksgiving again, and only a week away from the end of the semester, and that word is being spoken everywhere you turn –”finals.” Every year they seem to creep closer and closer without warning, but this year, I will give you some tips that have helped me succeed that week of studying, testing, and exhaustion.
First, don’t panic. I remember as a freshman getting ready to take my first final: American Heritage. I can hear the sympathetic sighs now; yes, American Heritage was a hard class, namely because of the test questions and rigorous thinking it required. Initially I started to panic as I thought of this test, but with some perspective from other students and my parents, I realized that this final was just like any other test I had taken for the class during the semester. As long as I took the time to study the necessary material, review past notes, and have others quiz me, I knew that I would be okay. Throughout college, I have kept that perspective of, “It’s okay if I get an average grade, as long as a I pass and give my best effort.” This outlook has helped me to face finals with poise and relative calmness.
Another way to get ready for those finals is to find a place and time where you will not be distracted and be dedicated to studying. For me, it was on the second floor of the Harold B. Lee library in the Periodicals section in the morning and early afternoon. My mind is most alert in the morning, so getting to the library early was crucial for my studying success. Also, I loved having a large open space to work in, windows to look out of, and no cell service to distract me. Others may study best at home or in the “No Shh” zone of the library; it really doesn’t matter, as long as you feel that your time is being used well.
Finally, and probably most important, know your limits. For classes that I struggled with, like math, I thought that if I kept studying, I would remember everything be more prepared. Experience taught me otherwise. Those finals that I did better in were those that I set times to have breaks and leave the material for a while. These breaks were short, sometimes just a lunch break, or a quick chat with a friend, but they kept me rejuvenated and more alert for the next study session. Decide what types of breaks are best for you. I would advise that they only last for 15-30 minutes because for me I am less motivated to study the same material if I haven’t looked at it for over a half-hour.
This is what I know helps me. What helps you prepare for finals?
Final advice: No matter where you study, how long you review, or what types of breaks you take, know that this whole semester has been there for your benefit to prepare you to succeed. Utilize the great study habits you have been perfecting throughout the semester, and use them to show those finals who really is the boss. Good luck!!
While working for summer camps is a nice way to fill those lazy summer vacations with productivity, many undergraduates ask, “What can I do to gain good work experience during the academic year?” In answer to this, I turn to working as a Resident Assistant (RA). At BYU, the on-campus, single student housing is dedicated to first year students—many of whom have been out of high school for a matter of months. As an RA, I was assigned as the supervisor of an entire building of eighteen-year-old college freshmen. My jobs included various administrative jobs such as locking the building at night and helping residents observe visiting hours.
These administrative duties, however, were just a small part of my responsibilities. Most of my time was filled by giving advice to these freshmen students, many of whom were living away from home for the first time. I facilitated their transition into college life by acting as a mentor. From this experience, I learned about giving academic advice to students since that was what most residents came to seek my advice about. In a similar fashion, teachers are expected to meet with struggling students and try different ways to foster learning. Teachers are also expected to act as mentors to their students—giving advice for academic success when it is warranted. Admittedly, working as an RA is still a bit detached from teaching in that there aren’t formal lessons involved in the job. With this being said, working as an RA is a great way to develop leadership and mentor skills needed as a teacher.
The final part-time experience I have had in preparation for teaching is working as a teaching assistant. Unlike working at a summer camp or as an RA, working as a teaching assistant for a professor can give prospective teachers actual experience teaching in a classroom. As many undergraduates have probably noted, teaching assistants working with specific professors doing odd jobs such as grading papers, emailing students, and—depending on the professor—teaching lectures. Some positions, such as teaching assistants associated with American Heritage, are actually assigned their own classes to teach in lieu of a professor. Obviously, this is a part-time job that resembles high school teaching better than most. One of the only differences between working as a teaching assistant and working as a full-time teacher are the students. Teaching assistants typically teach other college students while public school teachers work with teenagers. While it is true that there are differences between college and high school students, what teaching assistants gain from their experience are the skills of leading real classroom discussions, grading assignments, and ensuring classroom management. Regardless of the grade level, these three skills are critical for any good teacher.
I recognize that there are other part-time job opportunities that would look good on a resume. I would like to hear from you. What jobs have you had that helped prepare you for teaching?