Friday, January 06, 2012

Another Step Forward

One more step down today.  I met with a general counselor to help plan my classes.  I learned a lot too.  But I am such a procrastinator.  After all, classes start on the 9th.  But that step is done.

I have to say, I am nervous.  Not per se for the classes, or for college itself, but balancing school and a full-time job.  It has been my anger/disappointment/frustration with work that has spurred me to return to college to get my degree.  We have cashiers that have been there for over 15 years.  And no offense, but they're worn out husks of what they probably could have been.  I don't want to be that and I think I have so much untapped potential that retail will never touch.

The counselor recommended that I take two classes or about six credits.  That sounds good to me.  He said that English was a good choice.  Math, science and English were the only areas where "you won't just be unemployed after graduation."  He also talked about English teachers being able to teach other topics like drama, etc.  That sort of makes me cringe.  Not that those topics aren't very important to students, but that to have a career I'd have to generalize more.  Ugh.  But, I want a career, not just an empty degree. 

He also recommended that I get to know the EDU professors very well.  I'll need a letter of recommendation to get into a teaching program.  That will be a change for me and one that I knew I'd need to make.  Back in high school, teachers really loved me.  I had one that cried when I graduated.  I got along well with all of them and really well with a few.  Skip forward to BYU.  I don't think any professors knew my name or anything about me.  And it wasn't just because of large classes or something.  I went to class, took notes, and left.  I never liked those students you'd see crowding the professor after class asking questions and getting attention.  But... it's probably those students who finished their degrees and have promising careers and homes now. 

So what advice do any of you have so that I can step out of my comfort zone and know professors well enough that when the time comes, they can write me an excellent letter of recommendation?


Duck said...

Congratulations on taking the steps you have to become a teacher. I am a teacher at the secondary level (math) and it is the BEST job in the world. I hope you will feel that same way about being a teacher.

My minor and major areas at university were math and German. The thing that helped me most (to get my first teaching job) was to have taken several math and German classes from the same professors who eventually became my advisers when I did my student teaching. By then, we had "history" together. They knew what kind of a student I was. They observed me in my student teaching. They offered suggestions in my teaching. I received wonderful support from them and it was mainly because of them that I was hired for my first job.

And, if you will need to "supplement" the English with another subject, I would highly recommend you choosing one that you enjoy AND that gives you more choices in being hired. Math is always in demand. Coupled with English, you would probably be able to pick and choose wherever you wanted to teach rather than only the places where there "might" be positions available.

And, in all likelihood, you will be asked to do after-school activities. Clubs, sports, academic advising, tutoring, etc. are all possibilities. The more you are willing to help with, the more likely you are to become so valuable that ANY school would clamor to get you.

Hope that helps a little. Best of luck for your teaching future. :)

Happy day.

A Gay Mormon Boy said...

Just a little background: I was an undergrad research mentor for a couple of years and am now pursuing a PhD in literature after some time teaching English abroad.

First of all, I commend you on your ambitions. It's difficult to balance work, school, and time with a partner. Also, education is a really fulfilling calling.

Duck has a good point about Math. It's a marketable combination (along with some of the harder sciences) if you would enjoy teaching both subjects.

Regarding your question about standing out for letters of recommendation, I'd say undergrad research can be particularly helpful. "Undergrad research" can be as simple as finding answers to questions beyond the scope of the class or connecting the subjects of two classes. For instance, I brought Portuguese literature to bear on my work in English when I found an American poet who wrote in Brazil. There are lots of possibilities, but it makes school more special for you. It also requires more mentorship from professors, which is a time-consuming, but rewarding way to make an impression upon your professors.

Crys said...

Wasn't there a Cameron who sat in the front of all our Chem/bio classes and asked all the questions he obviously already knew the answers to...I wanted to kill that kid :) Speak up in class when you have meaningful contributions, undergrad research, good work. When I was grading undergrad work most of the papers were blah blah boring. It made me feel bad about how many papers I turned in that I'd written the night before. It takes all of ten seconds for your teachers to know that. Occasionally I'd come across a paper where the student actually put in some effort. The good ones I'd read aloud to Jason. I definitely kept an eye out for those kids.