Since completing the Barnard education program in the Fall of 2016, I have been a long-term substitute, covering for a teacher on maternity leave and am now preparing to begin my first full-year as a teacher. I am very grateful for the opportunity to student-teach as a post-bac student, since it gave me an extra semester to work on my practices with students before taking on the role to lead a class for a full year. Barnard education program has been such a powerful component of my learning in and outside of the classroom. When teaching in a high-needs classroom, it is extremely important to consider what goals/purposes of education one believes in and it is especially important to consider what that looks like in high-needs classrooms. I have always believed teaching is a moral and political act that can address and change systems of inequality. Through the Noyce program at Barnard, I have also had access to wonderful opportunities to learn from other educators while practicing my craft, such as through the Noyce Summit, and being able to participate in professional development opportunities, such as the Teachers College Reimagining Education Summer Institute this summer. My strong preparation in-program has also supported me in becoming a fellow in the Knowles Teacher Initiative fellowship, which supports my growth as an educator through opportunities for funding for professional development and creating STEM teacher networks across the country.
This past year of being both a student teacher and a full-time teacher has been incredibly draining, yet exciting. For pre-service teachers, it is imperative to find something grounding that can help them find stability when everything else is moving at 800 miles per hour. I found this in having routines and a core group of peers to reflect and vent with. Without these supports, I don’t think I would have been able to leave the semester having learned so much. If I had started this semester with these supports, I may have been able to hold onto more, but I am very grateful for my experiences. In addition to finding supports for the semester, another key factor that helped me take away a lot from student-teaching was really immersing myself in my school. I fully saw myself as an active member of the school community, which was great for my students, but also gave me important insight into what I needed from a school as a teacher, such as a small, collaborative staff with very strong beliefs in teaching for social justice. Lastly, student-teaching feels very overwhelming and difficult during all of it, but it is over really quickly. Connecting to your school can help student teachers really find some calm in the storm of the semester.