I’ve made it to the halfway mark and let me assure you, the work load is not slowing down! In fact, it’s only quickening its pace. It is important to remain vigilant, and remind myself that as I work through intellectually, emotionally, and physically trying times, I am the best version of myself.
Professor Torrell would always reassure our summer Senior Seminar II class of this as we worked tirelessly through the hectic conclusion of the English undergraduate program while most of our classmates from the previous semester were elsewhere on vacation. Old Westbury English undergraduates who take Senior Seminar I and II will be given a taste of the extent to which the graduate program goes to educate its disciples, and should continue practicing effective time management, as it is arguably the most important aspect of keeping anxiety low and staying on track. Especially for those who plan to pursue an MAT in English, be sure to collect reading lists as soon as possible, and read on! In some cases, certain content may need to be read multiple times which can become quite time-consuming, so be sure to pace yourself. As English majors, we love the many processes involved with literature, but in the graduate program, we must allow ourselves more time to ensure proper retention and reflection of the literature we read. Reading and analyzing at least two books per week sounds easier than it is in the midst of working and attending to obligations outside of campus. While I don’t find the curriculum to be much more difficult conceptually (the English undergraduate program does a grade job preparing its students), it is undoubtedly more work at a faster pace.
Now that I’ve settled in a bit, my anxiety is, for the most part, transforming into a strong sense of excitement. Despite some personal obstacles, I’ve managed to stay up to speed with my reading- and writing-intensive English courses. Facilitating discussions in these classes has also been a necessary and productive component in developing a better understanding of how to present certain ideas in front of a student body. While leading class discussion does occur in English undergraduate courses, it is required in the context of every graduate English course. Thus far, I’ve only facilitated one discussion on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night in Foundations of English Literature with Professor Hegde, which went smoothly. I have an oral presentation on Ernest Hemingway’s collection of short stories, In Our Time coming up in Foundations of English Literature with Professor Hobson which I look forward to presenting as well. Additionally useful is the advice Professors Hegde and Hobson have both provided on how to approach certain mature literary content in a high school context. While I’ve gotten to feel very comfortable in front of my fellow classmates and professors, I know that feeling may very well change in the midst of adolescents.
Considering the time I’ve been involved in the English department at Old Westbury (although it’s only been a couple of years, it feels like it’s been longer), I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from the education courses that coincide with my major, or if they could match the quality of the English professors. I’m happy to report that they have been a pleasant surprise. In a relatively short period of time, the content being offered through both my Foundations of Education and Growth and Development courses have provided me with some great insight on various classroom paradigms that I will inevitably encounter as an educator. The more I learn about being an educator and the many responsibilities that the profession entails, the more difficult being an educator seems. And while the prospect of bearing so much responsibility is terrifying, it’s also telling of how important being an educator is. With so much responsibility, I plan to positively influence as many students as I possibly can. Admittedly, up until this semester, becoming a teacher didn’t feel as much like a reality as it did an idea. However, now that I’ve been fingerprinted and assigned a school for Spring 2016 observation, I know its official, and I’m very excited to enter a secondary school classroom.
I believe being fearful of one’s own professional future is something more common than we’d like to admit, and a feeling that I’ve encountered on various occasions since graduating Huntington High School in 2008. The more I invest in training to become an educator, the less afraid I feel about my future. The more I learn about the influence I can have on adolescents who need guidance to succeed, the more I cherish my moments as a student and anticipate my future as an educator. Perhaps one of the most fascinating exercises that has taken place thus far, has been devising a teaching philosophy derived from a variety of different teaching methods based on personal philosophies in Professor Card’s Foundations of Education class. It is through introspective exercises like these that I remain aware of how important it is to construct such a philosophy – for the sake of knowing who I am as an individual and as a future educator. In the context of Growth and Development with Professor Gonzalez, some of the course content reiterates what I’ve learned in previous psychology courses I took at Nassau Community College, particularly the content which examines the stages of human development. Of course, what lends this particular course a much stronger sense of enjoyment, is examining human development in the context of the students in a classroom. By understanding why students behave a certain way at certain stages of their lives, I can more effectively manage my classroom when the time comes to teach.
I have a lot ahead of me, but I’m confident that I will continue to succeed at Old Westbury. As I work through this semester, I will prove that even my best can become better, especially with the guidance of such engaged professors! It’s clear to me that each and every professor I’ve had the pleasure of being taught by this semester is genuinely interested in their subject of expertise, has vast experience in their field, and offers incredible (and pertinent) experiences from their own life which lend themselves to the curriculum in such wonderful ways – and as an English major, there’s nothing I appreciate more than a good story!