Posted in Elementary Education Preparation

Enjoying the Journey

As I am nearing the end of my collegiate career, I’ve been thinking a lot about all the lessons I’ve learned. One of the lessons that I learned too late was how to enjoy the journey of a college experience. As a freshman I felt a lot like a child; I just wanted to grow up and enter the big wide world and graduate! Looking back, I know that my time at BYU was wonderful, but I should have enjoyed the time as it came instead of hoping for the next best part of life. Below are two ideas for how to enjoy the journey of college.

First, live in the moment. The best experiences I had at BYU involved classes where I enjoyed the lectures and lessons I participated in. Some of those lessons were given from GE classes such as biology or a religion class. While they did not relate particularly to the education major, the lessons I learned are still with me and even now help me focus on what is most important in life. Another reason those classes were such a great experience in my life was because I focused on the class and didn’t worry about the final and what the grade would do to me; rather, I looked at meeting new people and forming relationships with classmates. When I made a friend, learned lessons from the professor, and applied those lessons to my life, the class went amazingly.

My grandma is one of the best examples of living in the moment, and she constantly finds the good in each day. While there were classes she took at BYU that probably didn’t get her closer to her career goals, she has told me how she met people and professors that influenced her life for the better.

Second, be grateful for the opportunities provided to you. Let’s face it, we live in a competitive  world. There is always something better, someone who is better, and there are better ways to do everything. Knowing this, there are two options: give up and compare yourself and try to be like everyone else, or be yourself and enjoy what comes your way. Too often I do the former, and that never leads to true joy. Life takes its ups and downs and sudden turns, but it is our choice how we react. To enjoy this wonderful ride, one could choose to look for the good that is all around us. Next time you walk outside and see your breath in the frosty air, think about how wonderful it is that you get the opportunity to be alive.

Wherever you are in your collegiate career or if you are working full time this year, make it a goal to enjoy the journey. Take every day and see the beauty in each and every one. This will be a wonderful challenge for me too. I’ll be enjoying the journey through taking more time to really listen to my students. How do you enjoy the journey?


Posted in Miscellaneous

A Reflection on my First Semester of College

Hello again! I hope you all had a wonderful fall semester and a relaxing Christmas break!

It’s hard for me to believe that I am already done with my first semester of college. After 13 years in public school, I am finally living my dream of being at BYU! Not only that, but I made it through a whole semester away from my family independently! I thought I would give you my opinion of the classes I took last semester.

I took Human Development (SFL 210) from Dr. Laura Walker. This class was a hard one to leave at the end of the semester. Dr. Walker was knowledgeable about the topic, and it gave students a chance to reflect on their own personalities and actions based on what they learn. This class fulfills the general education requirement for social science, and a required class for the elementary and early childhood education majors. Tips: start on the papers early, and get help on said papers from the TAs.

I also took Biology 100 from Dr. Gary Booth. One thing that I did enjoy was that we were required to participate in a service project, which is how I discovered adaptive aquatics. This class fulfilled my GE requirement for biological science. I am done with science! Tips: study the notes , be prepared for quizzes, and start early on the research paper. And make sure to get help from the TA’s.

One of my favorite classes was American Sign Language (ASL 101). I always wanted to take ASL, so I jumped at the opportunity to take it at BYU. My class was two days a week, 1 hour and 40 minutes per class, so sometimes it seemed to drag on. Tips: make sure to get your cultural activities and labs in. The lab gets crowded closer to the end of the year.

I also enjoyed my Book of Mormon class with Brother Byron Merrill. He definitely knew his stuff. One part that was hard, however, is that at the beginning of the year, he asked us to read the first half of the Book of Mormon in two weeks.  He has really good stories and a good sense of humor. Tips: use the study guide to study for the tests, and keep up on your Book of Mormon reading!

Social Dance was a fun elective to take. Even though I am not the most coordinated person on earth, it was fun to learn how to fancy dance. Tips: make friends with the guys in your class so that you will have a partner for the tests. And remember to smile–all the time!

Last but not least, I took Art for El Ed majors (VAEdu 326) from Jethro Gillespie. This was a fun class, and it fulfilled part of my Arts and Letters requirement. I loved learning about how to incorporate art into the classroom. Tips: Get started on your lesson plans and art projects early. Enjoy making  your art, even if it doesn’t turn out the way you would like.

All in all, it was a great semester and I enjoyed every class. It was so sad to be done with them! I am looking forward to my classes this semester, though, and all the years as an elementary ed major ahead of me! If you have any further questions about these classes, comment and I will get back to you ASAP!

Posted in Miscellaneous

The Shock of Not Getting the Grades that You Got in High School

Grades just came out. Some of us are happy and some… not so much. Regardless, it’s a new year, a new semester, and we get to start fresh. It’s a great opportunity to assess last semester and to see how we can each improve.

I was a good student in high school. I worked really hard to get good grades. Here at BYU, I am working that hard, if not harder, and I am not seeing the same results as I did in high school. In talking to friends and other students, I learned I am not the only one that got higher grades in high school than they are in college and it is hard to not see hard work pay off. However, there are certainly many people in my corner. Parents, friends, church leaders, professors, and teaching assistants are all ready and eager to help me to make sure I succeed. This gives me hope.

Getting into BYU was academically challenging. Each student had to earn good grades in high school and now, as we are studying among lots of great students, we must be challenged in order to succeed and set ourselves apart. In reading the BYU mission statement, it says, “Students who graduate from BYU should be capable of competing with the best in their fields.” Teacher candidates are being prepared to go out into the world and do great things! Parents and administrators will depend on us as teachers to educate the minds of young students. We will be expected to teach will creative methods and to shape future policy of education.

In talking with other students here at BYU, I know that I am not the only one who is shocked that the grades they are getting in college are not nearly as high as those they got in high school. Some students that I have talked to have gone from acing all of their honors and AP classes in high school to struggling to get an A or even a B in their regular college classes. Others are getting close to the same grades that they got in high school, but are having to work twice as hard for the same result. Just remember that all your hard work will pay off in the end when you have the opportunity to teach young children and make a difference.

How do you feel about grades in college compared to high school and the shock (or lack of it) that you felt in coming to college?

Posted in Miscellaneous

How the 1st and 2nd Cohort compare

Here we are again at the start of a new semester. Many of you are going to be entering your 1st Cohort, or starting your 2nd. Some of you may not know what it is. A cohort is a term used to describe a set of classes a set group of students take together as they journey through the elementary education program. Its purpose is to guide pre-service teachers through the program with the help of professors, other professionals, and collaborative groups (fellow pre-service teachers), and to experience teaching in a real-school setting. My goal for this blog post is to inform those who are entering the education program or are already in it, on how the 1st and 2nd Cohort compare.

The 1st Cohort is an opening set of courses to what teaching and education are all about. During this time, pre-service teachers will be given the opportunity to learn the basics of classroom management, such as motivating activities and transition words, like “All Hands on Deck (one that I use) or “Hocus Pocus, Let us Focus.” At BYU, they also learn the best management is one where the teacher is proactive and not reactive. The teacher can see potential behavior and plans to address any misbehavior before it even happens.

After a month of preparatory classes, pre-service teachers are given the opportunity to put the lectures to practice as they enter grades 1-3 classrooms led by a mentor teacher, who guides them as they prepare, teach, and reflect on the lessons that they give. Of course, while preparing and giving these lessons, pre-service teachers are expected to focus on classroom management and motivation, reflection, and the classroom learning environment.  All these are explained further through the INTASC standards that each BYU undergrad is evaluated on. The best part of the 1st cohort is the foundation it gives an excited pre-service teacher to lead a classroom like the one pictured below.

In the 2nd Cohort, pre-service teachers are also given a time to be taught teaching strategies, and are still expected to address management, motivation, create well-thought out lesson plans during their practicum experience. However, there is a little more required and a few differences. For example, during this semester, pre-service teachers are expected to extensively address INTASC standard 6-Communication and Technology and standard 8-Assessment. In order to feel more prepared for student teaching or the internship and the Teacher Work Sample (TWS), pre-service teachers are given the opportunity to practice addressing all the standards. While still mentored by BYU education professors and a mentor teacher, now the theory is being put to practice with the upper grades (grades 4-6). This way pre-service teachers can experience the range of students in an elementary school and get a better feel for how to effectively teach both younger and older grades.
Though there are differences with the two Cohorts, both are a wonderful foundation for any aspiring teacher because they give you the opportunity to learn in the college setting, and then take those strategies and use them in a real classroom. Use the opportunities of the Cohorts wisely and learn what each has to offer. The lessons learned in Cohorts 1 and 2 are invaluable.

As a pre-service teacher, what further questions do you have about the cohorts?