Dear Future Teachers,
College is a whole different environment than I had ever experienced in high school. If you're like me, maybe you're nervous about beginning college, or you don't really know what to expect. Even though I'm passionate about my major I knew I had a lot to learn (and I'm still learning!). One would think that if you spend 13 years of your life in the education system as a student, you'd pretty much know what Education is about, right? WRONG. I've learned so many new and unexpected things during my first two years of undergrad, and I'd love to share some of those with you today! Whether you're starting an Education track, or you're considering pursuing a career as an educator, here are 5 things to know about Education majors!
Education classes are so much more than simply learning how to teach content.
While I have taken classes discussing techniques to teach elementary level math and focus on children's literature, many of my other classes focus on other areas of being an educator outside of content-teaching. There is so much more to teachers than their lesson plans. Teachers are responsible for social-emotional development of students, understanding the different barriers each student faces that can impact their schooling, and abiding by different sets of policies and politics surrounding the field of education. I've taken classes discussing child and adolescent development, social justice education, the Latinx experience in education, education politics and policymaking, and the benefits of community youth programs. My classes are more holistic in understanding the field of education on top of learning how to become a great teacher!
There is a LOT of reading and writing, but most of it is pretty intriguing!
I won't lie, there is a LOT of reading and writing involved in this major. There is a ton of information to be learned, but luckily, the majority of it is pretty interesting, making the reading much more bearable. I've written countless papers as well. Every school and education program is going to be different, but at UNC, I've written several 10-page papers, and I know there are even more to come as I continue this program. Personally, I prefer papers to hours-long testing in math or science, but preparing for the writing workload is still important! I definitely recommend learning how to create proper outlines and utilizing office hours!
Group assignments and collaboration with other students occur frequently.
Group projects seem to be wildly unpopular, and I definitely struggled with working in groups myself. I used to dread being assigned to yet another group project, but recently I've come to love collaborating with other students. Not all groups are perfect, of course, and I've encountered many people who don't have the same habits that I do when it comes to completing schoolwork. I still get a little anxious if I can't pick out my partners myself, but most of the group assignments I've been given really are better when there are multiple people to work with. Some of the concepts we tackle are complex, and it's really interesting to be able to see other perspectives and come up with a finished product you might not have come to on your own. Plus, I believe teaching itself should be collaborative, and group projects help you learn how to work with others and discover your own strengths when placed in groups.
People are going to think you're major (or your career) is easy... it's not.
My pet peeve is when students in other majors talk down on Education majors. "How hard can it be? You're just learning how to teach little kids." I'm here to tell you that college is challenging no matter what your major is! It can be a little invalidating for people to speak down on what you're studying, but don't let it get to you! Teaching is a crucial career, and anyone who is studying Education is going into one of the most important jobs there is! Like I mentioned before, it's more than just teaching students how to read and add, and it's definitely a lot more work than simply playing and having fun with kids all day. The work you accomplish in this major is valid and admirable; and trust me, you WILL work hard!
The education system is severely inequitable, in more ways than you could imagine; but don't give up hope!
One of the biggest realizations that I had during my first two years of studying to become an educator was just how unjust our K-12 education really is. At first, it bummed me out and made me feel hopeless. I had always known that school wasn't equitable, but I never saw to the fullest extent how deeply engrained these problems are in the school system. However, I also came to the realization that I was studying amongst many other students who were also learning of the various inequities in schools, and they all shared the same burning passion to create a difference as educators. Nothing can change over night, but I've learned so much about how I, and my classmates, can be better for future generations of students. Yes, the system is broken, but there's a whole generation of strong-willed future educators who have the desire to educate themselves and create a more equitable environment in classrooms!
I love my major, and I brag about the amazing classes I get to take all of the time. My roommates and close friends/family definitely get an earful of all the mind-blowing and fascinating things I've learned over the last 4 semesters. If you're studying Education, or something similar, I hope this post was helpful to you! I'd love to hear about what you've learned in your own experiences/programs. If you have any tips or information you'd like to share, send me a message through the Contact Me form on my home page, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!