Camp is over and school is (almost) in. I have been spending the better part of August preparing to start a new dance program at Ravenswood Elementary School. Along with all the changes, it is with a heavy heart that I say goodbye to many of my friends from the Columbia College Chicago Elementary Education MAT program as we all embark on our new journeys as professionals in the field of education.
I am proud to announce that all of my graduating cohort are fully employed educators for the 2014-15 school year! As Ashley, TJay, and I join the teachers of the Chicago Public School district as Middle School Mathematics, Visual Art, and Dance teachers, respectively, Anne has relocated to Austin, Texas to work with Gus Garcia Young Men’s Leadership Academy as a Middle School Language Arts teacher, and Eliza has relocated to Indiana, to teach fifth grade at a public elementary school.
Although goodbyes to my cohort and professors, my friends from other departments, and those in the Graduate Office are difficult, I am excited to meet new colleagues and build strong relationships, connections and partnerships with those in my field. I recently met with the arts team to discuss classwork documentation, showcasing student work, and performances. I also met with the middle school team to discuss expectations of middle school students, our new electives program in which students can choose their arts or enrichment classes, and Social Emotional Learning and behavior expectations. Lastly, I have talked briefly with the special education team, to get to know more about their programming and how I can better service their students in my dance class.
As a first-year teacher there are many challenges I will face as I embark on new beginnings. One of the biggest challenges, and something that is of utmost importance to me, is building relationships with my students. I understand that trust, respect, and progress in learning only happen in a classroom of any kind when there are open lines of communication, sharing of power, and respect for all individuals. Aside from planning curriculum; setting up my room; gathering materials and resources; getting my website, parent letter, and newsletters ready; writing grants for resources and possible arts partnerships; and getting to know the school, staff and community, my most important task is to get to know my students.
I plan on taking the first few weeks of school to really get to know my students by building a supportive community, presenting a safe space in which students can take risks and explore new things; and learning about each students’ background, experiences and interests. I am excited to build new relationships with the school community, staff and students in hopes to expand the school’s arts programming and utilize dance as a way of communicating, expressing, learning and creating.
While I am looking forward to the future and new beginnings at Ravenswood School, I will also miss my work here with the Graduate Office. I have loved serving at Columbia College Chicago as the Elementary Education MAT’s Graduate Ambassador and sharing my experiences with you all! The education department here offers a great program at an excellent school. The doors that have opened for me because of my experiences here are amazing, and what I have learned here is invaluable. I feel confident that I will enter any classroom ready to teach, equipped with the strategies and tools to teach students in a well-rounded, meaningful dance education. Continue to follow your passion and change the world!