This post was written by alumni, Alex Little.
Congratulations! I remember the excitement as I sat in my bed, hitting refresh on OUAC at midnight, just hoping I was accepted into at least one faculty of education. This is a most exciting time, so relish in it, because as you begin your new path towards a Bachelor of Education, free time will be a luxury you might just choose to spend sleeping.
I would like to preface my experiences with a reminder that I am the final cohort to graduate from the one year Bachelor of Education program. Up until now every cohort produced approximately 9,000 qualified teachers a year. As of September 2015, the program has become two years long and only graduates 4,500 qualified teachers at the end of every school year, except 2016, in which Ontario will produce none.
If you asked my family and friends how I was liking Teacher’s College, their response would probably be along the lines of “she’s hanging in there” or “Luckily it’s only a year of her life, just a blip in the bigger scheme.” This would because I underestimated the work, the amount I had to learn, and that I only call home when I’m sad. I worked as a school board Deafblind Intervenor for five years before entering into my Bachelor of Education. I believed that this experience would prepare me…no, more than prepare me…for Teacher’s College. This year was going to be a breeze, what else could I possibly learn that I hadn’t already come across while out in the field, the same field that I was walking into during that last week of August. Well,
- Classroom Management
- Lesson Planning
- How to plan a field trip
- How to write an IEP properly
- What differentiation really looks like
- And the importance of an anchor chart
Just to name a few. I had so much to learn, that it was hard to reset my mindset once I had already arrived. I wasn’t prepared to learn so much new information in such a quick time span. Take it from me, no matter what experience you have had, you still have a lot to learn. I promise you.
The workload. It is endless. Throughout my time in the Disability Studies program, I read every reading. I kid you not, every one. Ask my friends, I even had them spiral bound at the end of each semester. I can honestly say, I can count the number of readings I did on one hand after October of my Bachelor of Education. There is just too much, take notes on what you think might come in handy later and move on, no time to dwell on it. The assignments. They are also endless, always creating lessons, units, tests, culminating activities, about a fake class. You will get frustrated, you will cry, and you will succeed. Just remember why you are there and the difference you will someday make!
The practicum’s. They seem so scary. The first one is terrifying. The second one is exhausting (I mean is it Christmas yet?!). The third one is rewarding. This is why you’re here. You’re the teacher, and they are so happy to see you, yes you, every morning. Don’t ever get discouraged along the way, because this last practicum has changed every doubt I ever had this year about whether I really wanted to be a teacher. Yes, there was doubt. I walked around for the last 5 years telling people I was born to teach, this is what I am supposed to do with my life. However, for the last 6 months, I questioned it almost daily. The expectations of the job, the lack of understanding from our society, the discouragement from the field about the lack of positions available, it all eats away at you, but just know that you will succeed and you will be so proud when you do!
Make friends. My class only has 28 people in it. We had every class together and I am close with all of them. However, I made two true friends. These are the people I called at midnight in tears because this assignment just seemed impossible. The people I meet with every Friday for a coffee (or beer) to go over everything that happened during my last week at practicum. The people who text you on the morning of your evaluation to wish you good luck. Your family will be supportive, but no matter how hard they try, they won’t get it. Friends are essential. If you are lucky enough to have a family, have a serious talk with them before you start the program. You will no longer be picking them up and dropping them off at school, you will be too busy at your own school. You will be doing homework into all hours of the night; dinners might not be as lavish as they used to be. However, prioritize and don’t drop everything, you have to be healthy too!
For those of you who hope to be special education teachers, good luck! That is my goal too. There are jobs out there for us, but you will have to sell it. Everyone just seems to think we are trying to get our foot in the door, and as you have probably experienced, special education is a way of doing that. Show your passion, show your experience, and get your Special Education Part I AQ and you’ll be fine!
For those that wish to pursue a Master of Education, I can tell you that our degree is highly regarded. I was accepted into the University of British Columbia for a Master of Special Education in Visual Impairment and Blindness. I will be flying out to Vancouver in July! I wish you all the best in your Bachelor of Education. It is so much fun, so rewarding, and full of opportunities to grow. You will make a difference, one student at a time.