The School of Education faculty is committed to providing educational experiences that facilitate the development of four strands described in the School of Education Conceptual Framework. During this program, I developed competency in content knowledge, reflective practices, collaborative interactions, and educational leadership.

As a content expert, I have the background knowledge to discuss the material I am teaching in depth with my students. I can answer their questions, even if that means having the confidence to tell them I do not know the answer but I do know how to find it. I have learned to break down the multi-step skills and processes that I use as an adult into smaller pieces so that I can explain them to my students. For example, I do not think about using a prefix in a word or when trying to figure out meaning. I simply understand what the word means. In order to teach students to understand meaning and use prefixes to modify meaning, I must first explain what a prefix is. Then I can teach the meaning of various prefixes, and finally I can teach students how a prefix changes the meaning of a word. I have found that much of planning for teaching is trying to think like someone who doesn't already understand what I am teaching. Doing this gives me greater understanding of what I teach and makes me a far better teacher and more of an expert.

As mentioned above, thinking is an essential part of the teaching process. In order to teach an 8-year old, I have to be able to relate to an 8-year old and how they see the world. After I have made an attempt to explain or teach a concept, it is equally important that I step back and reflect on how effective it was and why. Without this step, I would simply be repeating the same lessons over and over without regard for whether my students were learning or whether I could improve. No matter how good a lesson seems in advance, sometimes the actual execution of it does not work for one reason or another. It is crucial that I evaluate my performance and adjust based on my reflections.

Education relies on collaborative processes. The best scenario for student learning is a collaboration between the student, their family, and their teacher. Beyond that, teachers benefit from shared material and experiences. No one teacher can have all of the knowledge and perspective needed to teach every student, but by working together we can reach more students. For example, I was able to enhance my students' engagement in a lesson on ancient Egypt by showing them pictures of me in Egypt. When a colleague was doing a presentation on Egypt, I shared photos and souvenirs from my trip with her so that her students would also get that connection to Egypt. Grade level planning meetings and scheduling helped me plan my instructional timelines and having more experienced teachers to ask questions of was invaluable. My student teaching experience was greatly enhanced through my collaborations with my classmates as well as with veteran teachers, and I will look to foster similar collaborative relationships in my teaching career.

One aspect of education that I find fascinating is that it is always changing. Keeping up with new trends and research and how they can be applied in my classroom stimulates me intellectually and provides a never ending challenge. Reading about and then sharing this research and discussing it with other teachers expands my horizons, and I find joy in sharing my knowledge with students and teachers alike. Another component of educational leadership that I gravitate towards is mentoring. I work hard to develop a strong rapport with each of my students and make each feel that I have "taken them under my wing." I care deeply about each one of my students and look for the "hook" that will foster a trusting and collaborative relationship between us. One way to do this is by attending extracurricular events such as sports, recitals, and birthday parties. While I was unable to attend many of these events as a student teacher due to my schedule, I eagerly anticipate doing so in the future.

As I begin my career in teaching, the core skills I developed while at William & Mary will serve me well. My strong work ethic, wide knowledge base, and propensity for critical thought and questioning will surely help me to make an impact on my community and my school. That impact is one of the reasons I decided to become a teacher, and I look forward to beginning to leave my mark on students and schools.