Friday, March 28, 2014

Back to High School

Since this week was spring break, I decided to do an observation in a high school English classroom since none of my previous classroom experiences have been at this level.

Photo I took in September 2011 of a hallway
in my high school that was decorated
for Homecoming.
Before coming home, I contacted one of my teachers from high school to see if I could observe in her classroom for a day. This teacher had a huge influence on my decision to become an English teacher, so when she responded with a yes, I was incredibly excited.  

I observed two of her classes, a freshman class and a junior class. Having this opportunity reaffirmed that I’ve chosen the right career path, especially since this was my first experience as an observer in a high school classroom.

It was interesting to be on the teacher side of the desk for a change, especially since I once had been a student in that very classroom. It was especially interesting since now that I’ve taken some education classes, I realized I listen to student answers in a different way.

As a student, I would listen to my peers’ answers and I wouldn’t really analyze them in my head or think about how they could be more fully developed. But from this experience as an observer, I realized that I started to ask more questions in my head about what the students in the classroom were saying.

Some of the questions I was asking in my head were also questions that my former teacher was asking, which also helped reaffirm my decision to become an English teacher.

There really is a difference from being a student in a classroom to being an observer.

From my experience, I was able to really recognize some of the concepts we talk about in my education classes, from transitioning units to keeping the students engaged, and so many more concepts. It was neat to be able to apply my acquired knowledge to this experience.

I also had the opportunity to speak to both of the classes I observed about college. Just being able to stand up and talk in front of a class that I could, one day, be teaching, was a great experience.

Having this opportunity made me even more excited to do my field experience this coming fall semester.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Impromptu Presentation? No Problem

I haven’t always enjoyed talking in front of crowds. In fact, I used to have a huge fear of speaking in front of people. Public speaking was one of the most terrifying experiences I could imagine.

In high school, I was required to take a communications class as a freshman, and every time I had to give a speech, I absolutely dreaded it. But by the time I had to teach a 90 minute class period with two of my peers as a junior, I was not nearly as daunted by the idea of public speaking.
Photo I took in October at an Alternative
Careers for Education Majors event.
Public speaking is a part of nearly

While I was still nervous and I didn’t necessarily want to give the presentation, I wasn’t afraid to get up in front of my class.

When I received my grade on that presentation, I remember my teacher writing a comment about how comfortable I looked talking in front of the class. It made me realize that after I got started, and my nerves disappeared, I was, in fact, comfortable.

But that was in a room full of 25 or so people I knew relatively well.

My next big speech was in front of a crowd of 200 or so at my sister’s wedding. I was incredibly nervous, and my fears never really diminished when I started talking.

During my senior year, I had to speak at an all school assembly for Homecoming and halfway through the assembly, the principal and one of my teachers pulled me off the stage to tell me they needed me to introduce the band and say a few words about upcoming events. I was not prepared to do this, and I was given about 30 seconds to figure it out.

Talk about pressure. The crowd at the assembly was around 800 people, and I was already really nervous to start, so given the added pressure of speaking on the spot was nerve-wracking. 

After this, I had a few experiences with giving presentations in a few of my classes, but I still wasn’t entirely comfortable with the idea of getting up in front of the class to give a speech.

However, I kept putting myself in public speaking situations to try and make myself more comfortable. I was a moderator for a debate before a local Board of Education election, and later on during my senior year, I submitted a speech to be considered for my graduation.

My speech was chosen, and I had the honor of speaking at graduation. Because of all of these experiences before I even came to college, I’ve only had more room to grow.

While I’m still not exactly thrilled when I have to give a presentation, I no longer feel a hindering sense of fear when faced with the task. Especially impromptu presentations, which seem to be a common theme this semester, as nearly all of my classes have required one at some point so far.

It also helps, since I am currently taking a public speaking class, which is really helping me improve upon my speech giving skills. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Did Someone Say Midterms?

Midterms seemed to appear out of thin air this semester. Before I knew it, my normal bedtime became 3AM, and lately, more and more of my time has been spent in the various libraries on campus.

The really cool thing about the libraries (yes, I just used “cool” and “libraries” in the same sentence – the two can go together!) is that students are allowed to reserve study rooms.

Lately, it seems as though I almost spend most of my time in study rooms. The rooms can be reserved for up to two hours per student, so my friends and I will reserve the same room back-to-back so we can have more time.

Photo my friend, Emily Dawson, took of me while we were
studying for our ENG 223 midterm earlier this week.
Earlier this week, I had a midterm in my ENG 223 (Strategies for Writers) class, and for me, one of the best ways to study is to write down terms and definitions and then discuss them with someone so I can ensure my understanding. So, my friend and I reserved a study room with a whiteboard, and I wrote out all the terms and definitions and we had a discussion about them. It turned out to be a surprising amount of fun.

What I learned was that nothing makes for a more entertaining discussion than trying to think of examples to explain terms that relate to rhetoric. Yep, that's right, studying can be fun.

Having a quiet place to study is really nice, especially when I seem to be so easily distracted when I try to study in my dorm.

Midterms are really stressful, and for me, I’ve always found them more stressful than finals. I think most of that is a result of having a lot of other homework to complete in addition to studying. But preparing for finals only requires studying and paper writing as generally, other assignments are completed by the end of the semester.

But I can see the light at the end of the tunnel that is midterms, and that light is spring break, which starts in a week. So while homework, papers, and midterms definitely piled up a lot faster than I imagined, at least there’s a much needed break soon…

Friday, March 7, 2014

My Peers are Awesome

As some of you may know, a big part of my job is to conduct student interviews with students who are majoring in one of the majors offered through EHS.
Still taken from a video interview of Delphine Koustmer '15.

I record these interviews with a camera, and recently, I started to edit them. Conducting these interviews has given me a different perspective about my peers and it’s interesting to be the interviewer, rather than the interviewee, for a change.

These interviews are informal and they revolve around the experiences of the individual I am interviewing. Once the videos are edited, they’re put on YouTube on the EHS channel, so anyone, from prospective students to current students, can view them.

Miami is full of incredible people, and conducting these interviews has driven this point home. My peers are dedicated to their field and they have enthusiasm for a variety of different activities.

Through conducting the interviews, I’ve learned a lot about campus too. Some of the interviewees are involved in activities I’d never heard of, which is really neat. Miami has a lot to offer in the way of clubs and activities, so while it’s no surprise that I haven’t heard of everything, I’m still amazed by the variety of organizations found on campus. There truly is something for everyone.

Because of these interviews, I’ve also learned more about different majors in EHS that I wasn’t fully aware of. Each major is set up differently, so it’s interesting to learn about the different classes that people need to take and how their program is set up.

But my favorite part of conducting these interviews is being able to get to know my peers better. These interviews allow me to learn where people come from and what led them to choose their major, and what made them decide to come to Miami.

Another interesting aspect is being the interviewer. Aside from my journalism class last semester, I’ve never really interviewed anyone. Usually, I’m the one being interviewed, so for me, it’s really cool to see how the two roles differ.

I have a lot of fun doing these interviews and I can’t wait to continue conducting them so that I can learn even more about my incredible peers, as well as the different majors offered in EHS.

If you’re interested in taking a look at the videos I've edited so far, here’s the link to the playlist,