I am not your “typical” student in many ways. When I started college I was the 25-year old freshman who felt out of place in all of the core classes with the freshmen “teeny-boppers” (as my grandmother called them). I was also the “I’ve been out of school too long to remember that!” sophomore who was trying to learn math. But that was all before I arrived at UAB. At UAB there is no “typical” student. Sure, you have your straight out of high school freshman, but you also have your soccer moms, the “second career seekers” and the late bloomers, who take 6 years to graduate, like me.
Over the years UAB has offered me more opportunities to grow and succeed than I ever imagined. From the very first education class, UAB had me in a classroom observing and reflecting on the real world of teaching. I have to admit, there were a few times that I felt more like that out of place 25 year old freshman observing in these classrooms, but with each observation requirement I began to grow and realize why UAB sends us out to fulfill these requirements in the first place. The more time I spent in the classroom I realized that teaching is challenging and complex. Not everyone has what it takes to be in this profession and it is better to find out sooner rather than later.
Of course, just when I thought I had a grip on the observations, the faculty went and upped the ante last semester in my Pedagogy 1 block. (Pedagogy 1 is the name for the first block of courses you take after you are admitted to TEP)! When I realized about 100 additional hours were added to the program requirements I thought to myself: “Ok, Amber, this is the real deal! Get focused!” Little did I know that those extra hours were just the beginning of what was added to the expectations. Before being admitted to TEP, we were only required to observe. This basically meant that we had to watch what was happening and take notes. Occasionally, we might be asked by the teacher to do a few tasks to spice up the experience, but for the most part, we are there to see “behind the scenes” and learn what the elementary classroom is really like. Once you are admitted to TEP those observations turn into two semesters of fieldwork. What’s the difference? Fieldwork lasts longer and it requires you to work closely with a classroom teacher and apply what you have learned in your courses. In other words: here’s a classroom full of children, write some lesson plans and teach them!
I can honestly say that fieldwork has changed my life! This week was the first week in the field for my Pedagogy 2 block this semester and I cannot even begin to tell you all the ways I have grown in just three days!! (More posts to come about that soon because it’s just too good not to share!) This week I have found myself so thankful for the P-6 program and the AMAZING faculty at UAB. My fieldwork experiences this week had some unexpected turns that required me to think on my feet and step out of my comfort zone, but because of all the things I have learned in my classes over the last two semesters, I felt prepared to handle everything that came my way.
Are you are a prospective student reading this blog? If so, then listen up! Teaching is not for the faint of heart, so don’t ever say I didn’t warn you! However, the Teacher Education Program at UAB is the best program around to prepare you for teaching. Not going to lie though…I am exhausted! Good thing it’s the weekend so I can rest up and stock up on more coffee so I can get ready for all the adventures in store next week!