Dear Education Students
Dear current and future Education students,
I am writing to you as a student who is at the finish line of the four year Bachelor of Elementary Education Program. It has been a LONG journey for sure!
This post is an honest reflection of my time in the program, some advice to take with you through your degree, and I hope some motivation to continue.
From my first day in the program to now, I have seen some incredible growth in confidence, knowledge, and professionalism within myself. I was a quiet person who loved to stay within my comfort zone, but the program required me to get out of it. I was challenged at every turn to evolve and grow into the teacher and leader my professors knew I could be.
You may not struggle with this, but I did. Sometimes there would be comments thrown my way that made me question my career choice.
You know, the comments you get from people who do not understand the world of education, “This program is too easy” and my favourite, “Try having final exams, then talk to me about how hard your program is.” But let me tell you right now, all of those comments are wrong.
The truth is, this program is just as difficult as any other degree here at UVic. But it is a different kind of difficult. This is a professional program that requires retention and development of skill rather than relying on memorization and the ability to write an exam; that is the difference.
The education program at UVic encourages us as pre-service teachers to develop a holistic approach to teaching and learning. We study theory, the developing brain, art, music, science, technology, philosophy, math, language arts, teaching students how to read, behaviour management, leadership, special education, drama, assessment, physical education, and so much more.
We are generalists at every subject, behaviour management wizards, and exceptional leaders. When I look back at our degree, I remember being exhausted from the assignments, presentations, group projects, practicums, and research that was assigned. Most of us in the program also hold down a job, or in my case, multiple plus volunteer positions.
It is a lot, and it requires a special kind of dedicated and passionate person. I admit that after my final semester of coursework, I was questioning my career choice again. But this time it was the exhaustion talking. I’m happy that I stuck it out and I am proud of the person that I have become because of this degree.
This is the part where I give you all of my wisdom, in bullet point form of course.
- Show up to class: our degree requires full participation, and honestly you will miss out on so much hands-on learning if you do not go.
- Connect with your professors: These are stressful times and there are a lot of hoops to jump through. Our professors are there to guide us and make sure that we succeed. And believe it or not, they really want you to succeed. Plus, the professors in the Education program are some of the most incredible people!
- Do your part: This program requires a lot of group work and you will be with these people for the entirety of your degree.
- Be Present: This means putting your technology away when your peers are presenting and actively participating in classroom activities. You will learn so much from your peers and professors.
- Self care: It can get stressful very fast due to the amount of assignments and presentations that you will have. Please take care of yourselves. Eat well and get enough sleep. Do not forget what makes you YOU! And do not forget what called you to this field. Make sure to ground yourself and to always walk in your purpose. This self work is always worth it.
- Share: We are in this together, not alone. Share your resources, skills, and passions with your peers and students. This will help you greatly when planning for your practicums.
- Accept feedback: Learn how to accept feedback and to grow from it, especially during practicum. Above anything this will determine your success on practicum.
- Believe in yourself and take risks: Being a teacher means being a leader and a performer. You got this!
- Find your niche: Find an aspect of education that lights your fire! For myself, it is Indigenous education with a focus on language revitalization – this has kept me going!
Here I am at the end of my degree, planning for my final practicum. I was exhausted and wondering if this career was meant for me; it is. In the month before your last practicum, you will have a three week course called Teacher as Leader: The Professional Role. It is here that your passion will be re-lit within you.
My current professor Dennis Harrigan has reminded me, through a series of exercises, why I want to be a teacher and what is most important to me.
On the first day he said, “Always know the why in your life,” and shared a video of Brené Brown speaking to teachers on how to create courageous classrooms. I recommend checking out her website and watching this video to anyone who aspires to be a leader, teacher, or even a parent.
I am inspired and excited for my life as an educator!