Sunday, April 15, 2012

Starting the Journey to Becoming a Teacher

Yesterday, I took part in the Spring accepted students day at St. Michael's college. As an Education professor my job was to answer questions from students and their parents about our elementary school teacher education program.

I met some wonderful families, the sons and daughters full of excitement and anticipation, the mums and dads nervous and apprehensive; I remember having those same feelings so well ten years ago when my own daughter was searching for a college. For a couple of hours I answered questions about State teacher licensure reciprocity, about what our program was like in terms of field experiences, whether courses could be transferred from one college to another and how our program compared with others. Two prospective students stood out for me.

The first wanted to be a music teacher and wondered if we had a program leading to music licensure. I told her that we didn't and that not many colleges, especially in Vermont, offered that somewhat restricted licensing program. I suggested that she might want to think about getting her elementary education licensure  through a double major in Education and Music. She clearly loved music and told me enthusiastically about all the instruments she played. I could just see her as a second grade teacher in 6 years time turning every student in her class, and probably the school, onto music. I have nothing against dedicated music teachers, of course, but when the classroom teacher is a musician it makes such a difference.

The second student seemed to want to be an elementary school teacher but his parents were terribly concerned about their son's writing skills. I told them how St. Michael's had the Writing Center to help students improve their writing but they seemed more interested in wanting to know how much their son would have to write; would the required papers be any more than five pages long?  I tried to let them know gently that elementary teachers must be able to write since it is one of the main things they do. I suggested that his passion for becoming an elementary school teacher would really have to drive him to improve his writing skills if he wanted to succeed.

I wonder if  both students will choose to attend St. Michael's. If they do, I wonder which one will choose to begin the journey of becoming an elementary school teacher. Perhaps they both will!

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