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We graduated! The past two weeks have been absolutely crazy, emotional, exciting and challenging, but within just a few days I completed student teaching, turned in my final projects and papers for classes, finished my courses for the semester, began applying for teaching positions for next school year while continuing to apply for summer jobs, visited with family, AND graduated.
After a semester filled with student teaching, six formal teaching observations, one-to-two evening grad classes at Columbia each week, EdTPA requirements, and starting the Chicago Public Schools’ daunting interview process, it seemed that I was ready for a break. But really, it was just the beginning to even more! As I finished my semester I began to reflect greatly on the current education system in the U.S. focusing my efforts on tracking, or ability grouping, and how it affects students in their core academic courses (reading, mathematics, science and social studies) as well as how it affects them in arts classes, with a specific interest, of course, in dance. The research came to culmination in my final project for the MAT course Education, Culture and Society. After completion of this project, I feel armed and ready to teach a diverse set of students with varying needs. I will hold all my students to high expectations and deliver differentiated instruction to meet the needs of all of my students.
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Once that class and my student teaching internship ended, it was time to enter the real world. But wait! First, some family and fun time! For Manifest and Graduation weekend, my family visited from Ohio and Michigan to celebrate. We attended Manifest, took in the sites of Chicago, stuffed our faces full of great food and drinks, and danced all night. The photo above shows my sister Lauren and I downtown after a delicious dinner. My family, of course, watched Columbia College Chicago’s 2014 Commencement ceremonies and it was phenomenal!
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Graduation was exciting and emotional. Everyone was happy to walk across the stage with the realization that WE DID IT! We completed two years of coursework in a challenging MAT program, hours of observation and field experience, a 16-week internship in pre-service teaching, and have become teachers ready to serve in the urban education system. After amazing speeches from Yolanda Joe, Associate Professor of Journalism; Richard P. Kiphart, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, and great musical performances from many of Columbia’s own music ensembles, it was time for the Chair of Columbia College Chicago’s Education Department to take the stage. Dr. Carol Lloyd Rozansky made an impactful speech to introduce one of today’s well-known education researchers and activists, Diane Ravitch. Then, Rozansky followed her introduction with a delivery of Ravitch’s speech. The moving speech was on the state of the U.S. Education System and a call for us as future educators, artists, makers, creators, scholars, and thinkers to create change for our society.
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After an impactful ceremony and time celebrating with family and friends, it was time to get right back to work. So far since graduation I have accepted a summer job as Assistant Director of a child-centered, student-led constructivist camp, interviewed for a few teaching positions for the upcoming school year, and started back at my previous work placement to finish out the school year as a preschool Teacher Assistant. Although busy, I am very excited for the upcoming changes and things to come. Even though this is the end of one chapter, this is just the beginning of another!