Living out the School of Education’s Mission

 

If you tuned in to last week’s post, you’ll remember that we discussed the School of Education’s mission and motto, SALT (Service, Academics, Leadership, and Teaching). However simple it may seem, the acronym reminds us of our calling as educators. As a matter of fact, the calling stems farther than educators, but to all believers.

SERVICE

As followers of Christ, we are all called to serve, and we are each called to serve in different ways. As believers, we are called to serve our neighbors, whoever they may be. As educators, we are called to serve our students, their families, and the community. Note that we are called to serve all of our students, even the ones that drive you up the wall.

At Nyack, we believe that individuals can serve better when they know better. That is why education majors receive thorough and comprehensive instruction, which they can then implement in their field experiences and student teaching. Throughout the education program’s curriculum, teacher candidates are taught about student and community diversity, various teaching methods, and how to utilize the methods in various situations to reach all students. By doing so, our teacher candidates better understand those that they serve, that they might serve them better.

ACADEMICS

Academics is obviously a crucial part of teaching and education in general. As teachers, we must not only throw information at our students, but to show it to them, why it matters, and how to apply it to their lives when applicable.

Education is not about being able to pick the right answer on an exam, though today’s school system might tell you otherwise. Education is about seeing and understanding the big picture, about knowing why to choose that answer on the test. Without that deeper understanding, education has lost its purpose. We need to change the focus of education from a student’s GPA to their effort and willingness to learn, showing students that their worth is not determined by their SAT scores.

As educators, we need to take state standards and teach them effectively, showing our students why the information matters beyond the scope of a test score.

LEADERSHIP

Teachers are the primary leaders in the classroom. As such, they need to both lead and encourage their students, modeling for them how a great leader should act. In essence, their behavior should model that of Christ, just as every believer’s behavior should.

Educators need to lead their students by example, showing them how to respond to conflict, how to interact with others, and how to respect one another and their opinions.

TEACHING

It is no surprise that teaching is a part of the acronym. Because it is so obvious, I feel like we often lose sight of its importance. As teachers, we need to be cognizant of our students and teaching methods, and we then need to evaluate what methods work best for a given class. Our goal as educators is not simply to teach, but to teach effectively and thoroughly. That is best accomplished when we take a step back and look at the bigger picture, evaluating what instruction practices and curriculum are the most beneficial for our students.

For more on what it means to be SALT, check out the School of Education’s webpage.

Why I Chose Teaching as a Profession

People have been asking me what I want to do with my life since I came out of the womb, and even more frequently since I graduated high school. I’m sure that you know how that goes.

I knew what I wanted to do, at least in part, since I was a small child, and that passion hasn’t changed. I have always wanted to become a teacher, and I cannot imagine doing anything else, nor do I think that anything else would bring me as much joy as the classroom does.

Even though I knew teaching to be my calling, I had tried to convince myself otherwise, convince myself to pursue another career path, but it was to no avail. When I was in elementary school, I tried to convince myself that I wanted to be a chef. I would get to be around food all day, and that seemed amazing! I even went to a cooking school that summer. (I now make an amazing cavatelli and Bolognese from scratch, in case you were wondering.) I learned from an amazing woman, and I will never forget her. The reason I will never forget her is for her teaching, for her passion and ability to teach that to others. My desire to become a teacher was reaffirmed with her.

Years passed before I had truly given extensive thought to my career path again. Sitting in Mrs. Durieux’s 9th grade English class, I was assigned to choose the top three careers that I would be interested in pursuing. Naturally, my first choice was teaching. Second was Cytotechnology, something in the medical field to appease my mother. The third was pediatrics, which I didn’t even remember I chose until I looked up the paper right now. (Are you amazed that I can still find the file? Because I certainly am.)

I chose the other two careers to appease others and their hopes for me, not because they were things I truly wanted. Sure, I love the science that was required for the other careers, but that love in no way compares to my love of the classroom and students.

I’m not going into education to make the kind of money a doctor does. (But if anyone knows how to make that kind of salary happen, feel free to contact me.) I’m going into education for my future students, to shape and guide them the way my teachers have shaped and guided me. I can say without a doubt that I would not be the woman I am today without my educators, those who taught me not only about their subject matter, but about life and what it means to be a decent human being.

I chose teaching primarily because I believe it to be the calling that God has placed on my life, but also because of how highly I esteem it. Furthermore, few things bring me more joy than watching the light go on in a student’s head when they finally grasp a concept- not even my first cup of coffee in the morning. Although perhaps an even better feeling would be when a student doesn’t look at your classroom like it’s a prison, but like it’s a home. And that is my main aim as a future educator.

New Education Blogger Debut

Welcome! I’m so glad you’ve joined me.

My name is Alexis, and I am the new blogger for the School of Education here at the Rockland Campus.

My birth certificate says Alexis Mazey, but you probably know me as Rex, as I am affectionately called that by friends. And no, it is not because I have short arms.

I grew up in a small town in Northeast Ohio. Now when I say small, I mean a two-stoplight town, a my-backyard-is-a-cornfield town.  (I’m not kidding. My sister once invited her friends over to watch Children of the Corn and then got some other friends to jump out of our cornfield and scare people. Even my dad was in on the prank. Honestly hysterical.)

Growing up in such a rural town has given me a deep appreciation for nature. My family and I used to hike at a local park when I was younger, and hiking is still one of my favorite things to do. I find running on a treadmill to be an impossibly boring form of exercise, but kudos to those of you who can last for more than five minutes without your lungs wanting to explode. I cannot. Better than me having to run, I could hike for ages and not grow weary of it. Well, at least not mentally. I have yet to reach John Muir’s stamina.

Anyway, moving on.

Besides hiking or simply being outside, my passions include reading, drinking coffee, and eating. My favorite combination of these passions was backpacking through part of the Appalachian Trail last May. The trip was impossibly arduous and taxing, and it made me realize that I need to work-out more (confession: I need to start doing the working out thing), but the overall experience was amazing, despite my pained knees and tired feet. There is something magnificently beautiful and rewarding about hiking to the top of a mountain and seeing God’s creation in bloom. If you ever need to be reminded about how truly amazing our God is, just look around you.

In fact, I would recommend that you look around you right now for that reminder. I went to a STEMM high school, so I am constantly reminded by science how God created such complexities and intricate organisms simply by speaking. I am also a musician and marvel about how He created sounds such that certain waves go together to create such beautiful harmonies.

Those are just some creations that make me reflect and stand in awe of our Creator. What about yours?

A Tale of Procrastination

We only have a few more weeks left in the semester. The deadlines for so many papers and projects are staring us in the face, and for Education Majors the creation and formatting of lesson plans is certainly on our minds. It might be tempting to push everything to the last minute, to start, work on, and complete that fifteen page research paper the night before it’s due. However, do you really want this? I want to explain what happens when you procrastinate like that…

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What Happens When You Wait Until the Night Before….

  1. When you try to raise your hands in chapel the next day, you can’t because they’re cramped from typing that fifteen page, a hundred source paper…last night.
  2. At this point any minor computer malfunction becomes a life and death issue. Christie wifi going out makes you look up that verse about Jesus weeping.
  3. You end up angering your once pleasant roommate who now has to listen to you rustling bags of chips, opening cans of Monster, and loudly typing…at one in the morning.
  4. (You angered your roommate prior to this by stealing her chips and Monster. You get into a debate about situational ethics…at three in the morning).
  5. The building gets very quiet and very creepy at night when you’re the only one up to hear it.
  6. You feel absolutely defeated because you know this paper is lousy. You’re too tired to try, reach for that grade, or much less learn anything.
  7. The song lyrics from your earbuds start mixing with your paper. Why does Plato have one less problem without you?
  8. You actually see the sunrise, wait, it actually does that? You remember why you like sunsets.
  9. You run out of highlighter ink. You run out of printer ink. You run out of energy. You run out of time.
  10. You fall asleep and have to wipe drool off your computer.
  11. You feel embarrassed about turning this thing into class tomorrow. You feel like a mess, the paper looks like a mess. Let’s be real, it is a mess.
  12. You have zero time to proofread or make drafts of this paper.
  13. You embarrassingly turn in this sad, sad paper. You walk away exhausted, realizing that you may have missed the point of learning anything, and the thought occurs to you that the level of stress it took to write this paper was not worth it.

Friends, don’t do this to yourselves. Not only is it a miserable experience, but it makes the process of learning so painful. Learning should never be painful. Work smart. Pace out your assignments. Figure out when your paper is due, assign time slots for an hour or two a day, and work on your paper. Create drafts. Edit. Revise. Get feedback. Enjoy the process. Enjoy the gift of being able to discover ideas, information, and write about them. I’m speaking to myself as well as everyone reading this post. Let’s end this semester well, but let’s avoid the procrastination.

Top Teaching Program Nyack Education

College, Life, Politics

It’s hard for me to comprehend that early next month will mark 10 years since that chilly overcast graduation day on the hillside.  In some respects, it feels like weeks, rather than years, have passed since I was last sledding on cafeteria trays down the hill in front of Simpson Hall, or speed walking from one side of campus to the other to reach class in time.  But in other ways, it really feels like a lifetime ago.

I watched and often discussed the 2000 Presidential election in my little Dunbar apartment, arguing my uber-conservative Libertarian viewpoints against my semi-conservative and liberal friends.  The “me” of 2000 would hardly recognize the social-activist liberal “me” of today.

And I think that speaks volumes about college life and beyond.

I arrived at college in 1998 thinking that I knew pretty much everything.  I figured I would roll through college, maybe learn a few things, then graduate and get a job.  There is no way this wide-eyed, neatly Republican high-school graduate could have known how Nyack College would change his life.  Virtually every aspect of my life changed within the first year.  Influences from my friends, professors, coworkers at Temptations Cafe, or even books I was reading all conspired together to take me from immaturity to maturity, from simplistic in my view of the world, to seeing the complexity.

By the time 2000 rolled around, I was a self-described social Libertarian (i.e., VERY conservative), having shed my high school Republican persona, and now I had arrived!  I concluded my college experience with student-teaching in New City Elementary, a nice suburban school, and ultimately graduated from Nyack in May of 2002.

I began my teaching career in September 2002.  Once again I entered into teaching thinking that I knew pretty much everything (you’d think I’d have learned my lesson).  I was teaching in an urban New Jersey school district that was vastly different than my prior experience in New City.  And, once again, my life would be drastically changed within the first few years.  Seeing the needs of impoverished students had an impact on me in much the same way my college friends and professors had.

What I’ve learned is that changing your way of thinking based on new evidence does not make you weak.  Seeing things in a new way is a catalyst for growth.  It takes integrity and intellectual honesty to always seek the truth, even when the truth you find contradicts the truth you thought you had.

I won’t be surprised if, 10 years from now, I’m writing about the 30’s “me” with fond memories of my own naivety.  And I wouldn’t want it any other way.

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