Dear Future Teachers,
To become an educator, you must hold a bachelor's degree. Many of you may be majoring in Education, or something similar throughout your college careers. While most colleges and universities have required classes outlined for future educators to obtain their degree and be recommended for licensure, more than likely, you'll have some wiggle room to fit in electives or classes that interest you. I recognize that Elementary Education, Secondary Education, Physical Education, Arts and Music Education, ESL Education, and Special Education all have different requirements as they are all separate fields of education that require specialized classes and certifications. I am focused in Elementary Education, however the 5 classes that I am going to recommend today can be applicable to ALL education tracks. Whether you're aspiring to become a teacher, or you're just interested in the field of education in general, here are 5 classes that I've taken that I highly recommend for you!
Each of the 5 courses are classes that I have taken and can vouch for from personal experience. I also recognize that not every Education program will have the specific classes I've taken at my own institution, but I encourage you all to explore similar or equivalent options if they are available to you!
1. The Latinx/Latine Experience in Education
This class was personally important for me because I am Latina, and I never learned about the history of Latinx individuals in my K-12 career. My "Latinx Experience in Education" course taught me about the history of Latinos in the United States, specifically how they were treated in schools. We read literature that exposed me to more information on Latin ethnicities in US schools than I had ever learned in K-12. The class was also incredibly validating of some truths I was aware of, but never had the vocabulary to express before. While I identify strongly with my culture, that doesn't mean I fully understood the lived experiences of ALL Latinx individuals in the US, so this course broadened my perspective immensely. I think it's important for all future educators to take classes discussing marginalized communities and their experiences in the school system because unless you've lived it, you won't understand how deeply history continues to impact these populations today.
2. Politics, Policymaking, and America's Schools
The U.S. Education system is full of different policies regulating schools, and politics heavily influence the decisions made about public schools. From funding, to creating alternative schools, to school reform, there are many policies shaping schools. It's extremely important to understand education policies because they impact what schools look like, how students are taught, and how you, as a teacher, are evaluated. Politics isn't my strong suit, but reading about the history of various education reforms and understanding the laws that dictate schools helped me better understand the systems in education that aren't working and why there isn't a quick solution to any of the issues in U.S. schools. I also was able to do a deep-dive into a school policy that interested me, and I heavily researched the effectiveness of class size reduction policies. It is definitely an interesting class to take!
3. Social Justice in Education
This class has been one of my absolute favorites in undergrad! We read a lot of literature and watched film that opened our minds to many new concepts to implement in schools. Specifically, we learned about project-based learning, democratic classrooms, open classrooms, increased student input on curriculum, etc. What I appreciated the most was that we spent each week talking about a different demographic of students to gain a well-rounded perspective on the experiences of ALL students. We discussed gender, race, class, ability, LGBTQ+, language, location, Special Education, school discipline, and so much more! The course was discussion based and we learned from our peers just as much as we learned from our professor and/or assigned readings.
4. History of Higher Education
I recommend learning about the history of American Higher Education because post-secondary institutions greatly influenced K-12 schools. We discussed the role of higher education in the US throughout history, who was allowed to attend college, how the institutions evolved, what contributed to the stratification of colleges and universities, and how colleges today came to be. This course is important because higher education is still not accessible to all students, and through class readings and discussion, we explored what barriers remained for the majority of students. We also learned about the large impact of POC and women on the development of our nation's universities, which is not always advertised to the general public.
5. Children's Literature in Elementary and Middle Schools
The course I took was specifically aimed for books in the elementary and middle grades, however the literature students are exposed to early on does impact their education as they grow older. Books tell stories or normalize specific concepts, which can influence how students see the world. In our class, we talked about the importance of representation within literature, looking out for books that perpetuate restrictive ideals, and how books can be used to teach students about heavy topics such as racism, deportation, natural disasters, etc. I gained so many ideas for the types of books I want to stock my own classroom with one day! For high school teachers, looking back at children's books, you can spark conversations with your older students about those books and how they relate to society! It is so much more than reading picture books, and I highly recommend taking a class on the literature we teach our students!
This list is not-exhaustive, and there are many classes that I hope to take in the future. As I continue my own education, I plan to share more Education classes that I believe are impactful and useful for everyone interested in the field of teaching. If you have taken any classes that you believed all Education majors or education advocates should take, send me a message through the Contact form on the bottom of my home page!