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Education 2500 Final Full Circle Reflection Paper

Joshua Pidkowa

Education 2500 has been a fascinating, eye-opening experience. Despite the challenges, the

unexpected difficulties, and the initial nervousness that accompanied teaching in a classroom for the first

time, I will be walking away from this course with the firm understanding that teaching is the career that I

wish to pursue.

When I first entered ED 2500 I was unsure as to whether teaching was really the career for me.

Unlike many students who have known that education is their calling for years, I stumbled onto this path

after attempting, and failing, to have a career in the petroleum industry. After several years of odd jobs and

false starts I realized that I had to go in a different direction, as the course I thought my life would take

turned out to be dead end. I only began to seriously consider education as a career path after some

encouragement from my sister, who is a teacher herself, but despite her insistence that I would make a great

teacher, I remained hesitant. I had never thought that education would be the path for me, but I decided that

it was worth a try. I approached ED 2500 as a litmus test, to see if I had the aptitude for teaching, and more

importantly, to see if I would enjoy it. I am happy to report that after spending time in a real classroom and

gaining some insight into teaching as a profession during seminar, I am now convinced that a career as a

teacher will be more rewarding and fulfilling than I had hoped it would.

The moment in ED 2500 when I first began to consider that teaching might really be for me was

during Dan Grassick's presentation in our second seminar. I had never considered how teachers can (and

should) bring their own personality, interests, and experiences into a classroom, and I felt a rush of

excitement as I began considering this concept. Sharing ideas in order to further our understanding of

ourselves and the world around us has always been something that I've valued extremely highly. Having

the opportunity to be myself and share important concepts, skills, and ways of thinking with young people

in order to help them learn and grow...what could be better? My experiences in the classroom have

confirmed this initial excitement. Engaging with my students in this way has been exciting, fascinating,

challenging and extremely fun. The litmus test was successful, and I think I have made a good career

choice for my future.

However, nothing that is worth doing is easy. There are a number of different challenges that

impact teaching and learning, particularly in a 21 st century classroom. Modern students are more diverse

than ever; from speaking different languages, to having wildly different cultural backgrounds, to having a

wide range of mental and physical abilities. Providing a quality education to such diverse students promises

to be a daunting task, and requires phenomenal effort and skill on the part of the teacher. Modern students

demand that what they are taught has some bearing on their lives, and it is a difficult task for a teacher to

find a way to make the curriculum engaging for their students. This is especially difficult as we now live in

a world that is changing faster than ever, and filled with more distractions than ever, as teachers today have

to compete with the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in the modern attention economy that

dominates the minds of students. In many ways teaching is a task where perfection can never be attained.

A teacher must simply do their best at any given time to educate their students, despite the challenges that

they face, and accept the fact that there is no way to do their job perfectly.

Teaching requires a commitment to students and their success. Above all other aspects of the

profession this stands out. This commitment demands dedication beyond simply what is done in the

classroom, and a large number of hours need to be spend designing lesson plans, marking assignments, and

contributing to the school in a number of ways that often go overlooked. Teachers need to connect with the

local community and work with student's parents in order to maximize student success. Schools are integral

parts of their communities, and the important role that teachers play cannot be overstated. Each community

is different, whether it is cultural background, income, etc. The students at a school will reflect this

diversity and a teacher needs to be able to respond to these diverse needs. A teacher needs to expend a large

amount of effort understanding the psychology of how students learn, and the diverse nature of students

ensures that no single strategy works for all. In my opinion, education is more about getting students

excited about learning and helping them develop the tools to learn and succeed throughout their lives than it

is about filling their heads with facts. While educating students about the curriculum is important, it is of

equal importance to help educate them about life. This can be accomplished by setting a good example that

students can emulate for future success, which is a massive responsibility, as teachers help the leaders of

tomorrow grow and develop.

Though I believe I will be well suited for the challenges ahead, there are definitely areas where I can

improve. The most obvious area for improvement is my organization and time-management skills,

especially outside the classroom. This flaw in my character is something that I have struggled with for most

of my adult life, and though I tend to always get by, it remains a hurdle to overcome. The demands that

being a teacher will place on my shoulders will not be able to be met unless I restructure my life and

become a more organized person. Luckily, strategies abound for how to address this problem, but the

number one thing I will have to work on is staying disciplined and not letting things slide. I have a

tendency to focus on important goals and let the smaller aspects of life get put on the back burner, but as I

go forward into my future career as a teacher I will have to keep that from happening and maintain an

organized, collected life.

Teachers today face many challenges, and preparing for and dealing with them will be a difficult

task. The difficulty in developing a healthy work-life balance is a challenge that I have seen first hand in

my practicum. Teaching can begin to take over one's life if one lets it, and knowing where to set the

boundaries and maintain a healthy personal life is of the utmost importance. The challenge of being held to

a higher standard, not just in the classroom but in public life, is another difficult task. Maintaining proper

decorum as one interacts with the public at large is important, especially if one runs into their students when

out in the wider world. This can be accomplished a multitude of ways, mostly relating to ones dress and

one's actions, but it is important to keep a minimal presence on social media as well. As a teacher one must

be a role model to their students in all aspects of life, not just in their intellectual pursuits, and being

mindful of this role is something that teachers must do throughout their lives.

My experiences in ED 2500 have been extremely informative and rewarding, and as I prepare for a

career as an educator I feel very excited for the road ahead. Though it will be challenging the rewards will

be great, and I am thankful to have had the opportunity to get a first taste of what being a teacher is like

before fully embarking on this path.