Congratulations to Precious Azike and Joshua Pooranmal for winning the 2018 UTeach Conference Poster Session. The title of their poster was “Developing Critical Perspectives in Step 2: Maintaining an Open Disposition While Shifting from Student to Teacher.”
Terrapin Teachers offers options for undergraduates to begin their certification pathways at different entry points in their college careers. Although most undergraduates enter Terrapin Teachers as freshmen and sophomores, we also get transfer students from community colleges who enter Terrapin Teachers as juniors. These students can share valuable experiences as they transition from a community college to a four-year institution. In this newsletter, we take pride in featuring Jennifer Hill, a transfer student from Montgomery College (MC), who provides an inside look at her journey through the undergraduate secondary education pathway.
What is your classification and major?
I am a transfer student from Montgomery Community College. I enrolled at the University of Maryland (UMD) the first semester of my junior year. I am now a senior math (CMNS) and secondary mathematics education (COE) major.
Describe your undergraduate experiences since you transferred to UMD and joined Terrapin Teachers.
My undergraduate experiences at UMD have been a huge eye-opener. Coming from a community college, I felt very intimidated. All the students already knew each other and their instructors, and so I felt like I was at a disadvantage.
On my first day of class, walking into EDCI 488P (Project-Based Instruction), one of the instructors was at the door and as I walked in she said, “Are you, Jennifer?” I was caught by surprise and responded “yes,” and then she introduced herself to me. At that moment, I immediately felt welcomed. I knew she looked at the class roster and saw my name and picture, but I appreciated that she took the time to know her students. I knew right then that Terrapin Teachers would be a great place for me.
My overall experiences have been challenging. Being a double major in math and education is no joke. When I was in high school, and even at my community college, math came very easily to me, but at UMD it was a huge challenge. There were times when I doubted my ability to be a math teacher and thought about changing paths, but the Terrapin Teachers classes made me confident not only in being a teacher, but in being a math teacher. I’ve met some really amazing people in the Terrapin Teachers program and had great experiences in the Terrapin Teachers classroom. I have learned a lot about the kind of teacher I want to be, and I appreciate Terrapin Teachers so much for getting me closer to becoming a teacher.
What are your biggest takeaways from your Classroom Interactions course (EDCI 488A) which begins your year-long internship in the field?
My biggest takeaway from this course is that it’s okay to make mistakes. Being a teacher involves revising and modifying lessons. Not all the lessons you create are going to go as planned, and that is okay. The best way to deal with a mistake is owning up to it and learning from it. Teachers are human too, and I have my instructor to thank for reminding me of that.
Talk about your classroom experiences. Which had the greatest impact on how you think about teaching?
The classroom experience that has had the greatest impact on me is Classroom Interactions. This course begins the year-long internship. In the fall, I was at a high school once a week. As part of the field experiences, I taught two full lessons that I created and took the lead for one of the classes my mentor (public school teacher) was teaching. These experiences have made me not only excited about teaching, but set in my heart that this is what I want to do. I want to change the world and what better way to do it than to teach.
What is your major?
My major is agricultural science and technology, with a focus in plant science.
What made you choose TT?
About two years ago I volunteered with a non-profit and I got to work with youth within agriculture. After that experience I realized how much I really liked working with students, but I didn’t know how to incorporate that with my major. My advisor caught on to the fact that I enjoyed working with students and suggested that I take the first TT class, TLPL 101, as a way to see if teaching was something I would be interested in. Once I was able to speak with Dr. Campbell and Dr. VanNetta I learned more about the program as a whole and how an integrated master’s degree could allow me to actually work in the classroom. I originally wanted to do production agriculture or work for a sector in the industry, but the more I got involved in the program the more I realized that I want to teach agriculture rather than produce food.
How has your experience been thus far?
As a TT student, I’ve never felt more valued in the classroom on the college level. I feel like the TT teachers care about us like we’re not just students, but we’re future coworkers, which is cool. In other classrooms, a lot of times, I just felt like a number until I reached my higher-level electives and then the teachers got to know me.
What are your future goals and how has TT helped you reach them?
My goal is to first complete the 5-year program in IMCP. I am a senior now and I’ve been accepted into the Noyce program, which will help pay for a good portion of that master’s program. Following that year, I would like to teach agriculture at the high school level. I’ve had the pleasure of teaching at College Park Academy (CPA) and Hyattsville Elementary as a TT student and I realized that teaching high school students would be a better fit for me because it is easier to hold their attention. After teaching at the high school level for a few years, I would love to continue my education so I could possibly become a department head. I would also like to possibly work with a non-profit that focuses on diversity in education.
How has your height impacted your teaching experiences? (Note, Dane is 6'4" tall)
This may sound weird, but I’ve learned how to use my height to my advantage. I’ve recognize that when I have one on one student interactions I can be a bit intimidating. I’ve had to work on my body language to be more open by not crossing my arms and not putting my hands in my pockets. Also, when I’m talking to students, if they are working at a desk, I make sure I get down on my haunches so I’m at their level, rather than leaning over the desk talking to them. I find that if I’m at their level then they feel more comfortable talking to me about problems, ideas or something that is going on in their lives.
Lightning Round (what’s the first answer that comes to mind?)
What’s the last book you’ve read?
Nicholas Barks Two by Two. I read with my grandma and it’s a book we chose together.
What’s the last movie you’ve seen?
Big Fish by Tim Burton
If you could choose a song to describe you, what song would that be?
"Brother" by NEEDTOBREATH because the song is about being someone to lean on and being a light in the live's of others. In the grand scheme of things, that's the kinda person I strive to be.
If you had to choose a color to describe you, what color would you choose?
Green by far. Like Christmas green. I love working with plants, especially evergreens, and I feel like green is the color of growth. I feel like we never really stop growing within education. So, we can always have room to grown. Green really defines me and it’s the color of agriculture.
If you could teach anywhere in the world, where would you want to teach?
I’d eventually like to teach in Alaska. Their methods of agriculture are very different from the forms I have learned about here on the east coast and would like to know more about them. If I taught Agricultural Education in Alaska, I would have the opportunity to teach and be taught too.
Lastly, what words of encouragement would you give current or future TT students?
Don’t be hesitant to serve, with all your might because investing in other people is where it’s at. We can have as much education as we want, but until we start working with other people we have no impact at all. If we start investing in future generations, instead of just keeping all the knowledge to ourselves, we begin to mold leaders, so the impact we make will continue on even after we are gone.
On December 14, 2016, the Terrapin Teachers program was the recipient of the “Make a Difference” award from the Office of Community Engagement. The purpose of the award is to recognize those who have helped the Office of Community Engagement achieve its goals to connect the University with the wider and diverse surrounding community. It is bestowed to community partners, supporters, and University departments, units, faculty, staff, and students. The Terrapin Teachers program was awarded for our commitment to connecting the program with many of the school in Prince George's County as we continue to strive for academic excellence in our surrounding schools.
The University of Maryland (UMD) was pleased to host the sixth Maryland Mathematics and Science Institute (MMSI). This week-long summer continuing education course for PDS mathematics and science teachers serving grades 9–12 was co-hosted by the Department of Mathematics, theTerrapin Teachers program, and the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences.
Participants engaged in authentic science and math learning through interactions with UMD researchers and hands-on activities grounded in NGSS and Common Core content standards and standards for practice.
Dr. Sylvester James Gates Jr. delivered the keynote presentation. Dr. Gates is a Distinguished University Professor in the UMD Department of Physics and serves on the U.S. President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.