Master of Arts in Teaching, 2014
School of Education
October 1, 2011
“I have known since age six that I wanted to be a teacher.”
While other children were dreaming of becoming a doctors and saving lives, astronauts that travel to the moon, and the next President of the United States, I dreamt of one day becoming a teacher. I have known since the age of six that I wanted a career in teaching, and I have kept that as my main focus in everything I do. It started when I would come home from the first grade and read to my sister as if I were her teacher, even though she was only an infant. Once she started school, I made it a priority to help her with homework and to check that she understood the material. In my own schooling, I always found joy in helping my classmates with assignments, and even though other students thought it was “not cool,” I enjoyed being a teacher’s pet! I looked up to my teachers, hoping to be just like them one day.
When I was old enough, I started volunteering as a teacher assistant at a summer school program. I worked with K-3rd graders, giving them a head start to their next school year. Two summers later, I was employed and given more responsibilities. I took half the children to a separate classroom where I would work on worksheets with them and assess them. I always simply loved what I did, but I never realized how big of an impact my job was having until a father came over and personally thanked me for teaching his son subtraction. Not knowing that the father had already worked with his son on subtraction for a long time without success, I had tried five different ways to teach the little boy subtraction before he understood. When his son came home one day and finished his entire subtraction worksheet by himself, his father was amazed! I couldn’t help but be excited for my student and his father, and I also felt a huge sense of accomplishment on my part! Over the four summers I was there, I gained plenty of experience working with children; however, these were just the first few pebble stones on my path to teaching.
The next step to my future was going to college. Upon my arrival at UCI, I was just like any other new freshman — lost and unsure of what I was doing. However, I was fortunate enough to have been placed in the Education dorm in Middle Earth, where many other residents also had an interest in teaching. Here, I found my second home; by the time Welcome Week was over, I felt as if all the residents were my family! We shared all our teaching experiences with excitement and thrived under our common goal. My RA held events that introduced us to the Education minor and the Teachers of Tomorrow club. I quickly added the minor and started taking classes right away and finally felt I knew what I was doing in college.
I benefited so much from doing fieldwork at sites such as THINK Together and Sepulveda Elementary School in Santa Ana. These experiences were completely different than what I was used to because the students were from a different culture and background. I also started attending Teachers of Tomorrow meetings and learned so much about what it is like to be a teacher from the guest speakers and learned what I needed to focus on to get into good grad schools. I could not believe I did not know about all these resources until then; they are PERFECT for what I want to do. Switching my major, adding the minor, and joining the club were the best decisions I’ve made in college, and also what makes me love UCI.
After I was settled into college and in my second year, I put all my efforts into gaining more experience. I continued with the Teachers of Tomorrow club and volunteered for the position of Webmaster/Historian. I’m not much of a computer person or a writer, but it was the only position still open so I jumped at the opportunity and became a part of a great team that helped me fit right in. As Webmaster/Historian I took pictures at events and made extra time to learn how to update a web site. This was all very new to me, but I believe, especially as a teacher, I will always be learning new things and trying to improve my skills, so I challenged myself. I played around with the program, I researched online, and I asked UCI’s Office of Information Technology for help. With experimentation and help, I made it through the year and now I feel more prepared for teaching because I know that if I run into an issue, I will be able to figure it out, whether it means asking for help or just trying a different technique. At the end of the year, I was chosen as the Teachers of Tomorrow President for 2011-2012! I am really nervous to have such a big responsibility but I know it will be another learning experience that will help with my leadership skills, which every teacher needs.
Also during my sophomore year, I started working at Extended Day, a daycare on campus for children of UCI faculty, staff, and students. I knew this would allow me to gain hands-on experience working with children; however, it actually gave me a lot more than that: a new perspective on education outside of the regular K-12 classroom. The center provides activities such as arts and crafts, sports, music and drama, books, computers, cooking, science and games. We work at developing cooperative learning, decision making, and problem solving skills. I never had to teach children something as simple as how to hold a fork and knife properly or something as complicated as to talk each other through an issue instead of complaining to a teacher. Whereas in a normal K-12 school, teachers focus on teaching academics, Extended Day provides the children with lifelong skills that will help them survive in society. I have worked there for a year now and I see the changes in the children, especially the kindergarteners who came in new to the program. I’m excited to be starting another year with them and to be able to continue to see their growth.
Near the end of my sophomore year, the Teachers of Tomorrow club’s advisor, Gisela Verduzco, told me about a Peer Academic Advisor position in the Department of Education. I applied and was very fortunate to be selected for the 2011-2012 academic year. I have gone through the initial training and am excited for the upcoming year because I have never before counseled students, especially those older than elementary school. I know that this position will broaden my skills as an educator as I learn ways to help students and to make sure their road to graduation is smooth.
All the things I have done and all the things I will do in the next two years as an undergraduate are helping to pave the path to my goal. I intend to go on to graduate school to get my multiple subject credential and Master of Arts in Teaching. My main goal is to teach third grade or lower for several years and then move up to administration.
The Department of Education at UCI has been my life! I started out in an Education dorm, added the minor, joined and became the President of the Teachers of Tomorrow club, will start doing research this fall, and will serve as the new Peer Academic Advisor for the department. I could not have made a better college choice nor asked for a better college experience because of what I have been provided with at UCI. If it weren’t for the department and all the people who work here, and all the resources and support they offer, I would not be where I am today and would not be as prepared as I am now.