Someone I know was just accepted into an 18 month long non-degree program that will result in...
I was a little excited to see that a Wellesley student/aspiring teacher had found my blog. I miss Wellesley, and I am really glad you’ve enjoyed reading my blog. Expeditionary learning is fantastic, and I think that it fits in a lot of ways with the direction education is moving (minus, you know, all the testing). If you’re interested in more about EL, you can check out the EL site. There’s lots of great information there. A school does not have to be a part of the EL network to be an EL school. I’m not entirely sure of the details behind that. I know my school used to be affiliated with the EL network, but it grew to be too expensive for our school to maintain. We follow the EL design principles and adhere to the EL model. Our teachers and admins also attend professional development provided by the EL network.
As for jobs in EL schools, it depends on where you decide to go. In Colorado, where I am, there are only a few EL schools, but there is a parent-driven movement in our district to expand our ELOB (expeditionary learning outward bound) programming through 12th grade. Currently, it only goes through 6th. I’m hoping that EL will expand and there will be more jobs for teachers who are interested in it. It really is a great model that allows for inquiry, thinking deeply, exploration, and self-efficacy.
I appreciate that you added the (generally) to your question. :) Yes, generally I am very happy with my career choice. It is an incredibly fulfilling job that I am lucky to have. Sure, I have my rough days (and weeks), but so does every person in every job. I’m lucky in that I get to go to school and sometimes forget about the ickier parts of my job while I’m with my kids. I get to create connections and community with my students every day and watch them grow and learn. We get to laugh together, and I have a wonderful group of colleagues who help me grow and support me in the rougher times. I will say that right now, going in to teaching is difficult. There is a lot of change (lots of it good), and there is a lot of bureaucracy that can be hard to live with/trudge through. If you’re interested and passionate, though, I think it is really a great career. It keeps you on your toes, you get to keep learning and changing, and you get to work with lots of other people. It’s hard to get bored.
As for Wellesley preparing me, I actually didn’t do any teacher prep at Wellesley. I majored in studio art with a focus on photography and printmaking, and took just enough education classes to graduate one class short of a minor in education studies (my stepmom had a serious stroke my senior year and I ended up dropping that one education class because I had a lot to deal with). I graduated from Wellesley and moved to NY to nanny and try to get involved with the arts there. I lived in Manhattan for about 8 months and nannied until I just couldn’t take my ridiculous job anymore.
Then, I moved back to Colorado to start the process of figuring out what I wanted to do. I applied for teaching programs and alternative licensure programs. I took the PLACE (Colorado’s educator licensure test) before I applied to programs. There are lots of these kinds of programs in Denver. I ended up being accepted for an intern position at a magnet school for G/T kids in Denver. The school was part of an alternative licensure program run by a British Primary school in the area. It was a full-year internship (started the week before school began and finished the week after school was over). I switched classrooms with mrsjdr halfway through the year. I spent the first semester in a 3rd grade classroom and the second semester in a 4th grade classroom. By the end of the year, I took over the classroom for about 2 weeks to implement my thematic unit.
I really don’t know if I could have had such a decent first year teaching if I hadn’t been in a classroom for a full year. By being in the classroom for a whole year, you really get to witness the energy and flow of a full school year. You see what happens after breaks or when your mentor teacher needs to change plans quickly. In addition to being in the classroom full-time, we had classes at the BP school every Thursday from 12-5. These classes were classes on literacy, math, pedagogy, community-building… pretty much what you see in a teacher-prep program. The work we did could also go toward our master’s degree in educational psychology. At the end of the year, I had about half my credits toward my master’s, as well as several letters of recommendation from mentor teachers, my principal, and the coordinator of my program, and my qualification for alternative licensure.
I am glad I didn’t do my student teaching at Wellesley. I had a great last year/semester at Wellesley that I don’t know I would have had if I’d been student teaching. I really liked my licensure program and had the best experience at my intern school. I wasn’t positive I wanted to teach when I finished my undergrad, but after some experience doing other jobs, I knew it was something I wanted to try.
If you have any other questions about EL schools or anything else I mentioned, I’d be happy to answer them! Hope that wasn’t too long or convoluted for you. :) Thanks for sending me your message and enjoy spring at Wellesley!
Katherine Lee Bates, who wrote “America the Beautiful,” went to Wellesley and composed the song upon being inspired by the mountains of Colorado.
At Wellesley, we sing that song every year at convocation, flower sunday, etc. But instead of singing “brotherhood,” we’d all screech “sisterhood.”
As James Taylor was just singing “America the Beautiful,” I may or may not have sung “sisterhood.”
Oh, Wellesley. What did you do to me?
Just one, really. I wish I had tea’d for Shakes.
(Shakespeare Society, for those not in the know.)
I wish I hadn’t been so bashful and anxious and certain I wouldn’t fit in and had just done it. Because it would have been epic.