You’re more than halfway through STEP-Elementary. How would you describe the experience?
STEP Elementary has been a challenging and eye-opening experience. I feel like we learn about so many different theories and classroom practices to think about during our placements. I know that after graduating I will have a bevy of resources and ideas to try out within my own classroom. However, what I love the most are the inspirational people in my cohort, the friendly staff, and of course all of my amazing students! I will definitely leave STEP with many lifelong connections and supportive friends.
How has your teaching changed since STEP began in June?
When I first started STEP in June, most of my in-classroom experience was with tutoring and upper-grade after school programs. STEP challenged me by placing me in a 1st grade and kindergarten placement right when I started! I did not know what to expect; since I had very little experience with classroom management, I thought I was doomed. However my amazing Cooperating Teachers did an amazing job scaffolding my integration into the classroom culture and developing a set of norms with the students. My classroom management skills have improved greatly to the point where I am considering going into a Kindergarten or 1st grade class for my first year of teaching.
How would you describe the other STEP students?
They are simply the best. I feel very lucky to have a support group of fellow “STEPpies” that are going through all the same struggles of student teaching. STEP is a very intense one-year program! Fortunately, we all come from different places in our teaching experience, so we all help each other out with our diverse backgrounds in the education field. Also, I highly recommend carpools. They help keep everyone accountable and make those 7 a.m. morning drives fun when you can bond with a wonderful group of people. I am very thankful for all of my carpool STEPpies!
What led you to choose Stanford as the place to learn to be a teacher?
I chose Stanford because it has a multitude of resources and highly qualified staff to learn from. I sometimes forget all of the free resources and opportunities we get to learn about equity and social justice. Furthermore, the lectures I get to attend with some of the best professors in the field of education are a great opportunities to learn from people who have been in the education field for years. It is definitely a great place to be if you are also considering getting involved in education policy in the future.
What were you doing prior to applying to Stanford?
I was an undergraduate at UC Irvine. I was lucky enough to be among the first Educational Sciences graduating class and received a Certificate in After School Education from the university. I wanted to jump right into a teacher education program so that I could start teaching as soon as possible!
What are your expectations for finding work for next September?
STEP has been wonderful in helping us find a job after we graduate. We attended several professional workshops in order to develop our resume, cover letter and interview techniques for the upcoming job season. I hope to work at a school where I can use all of the progressive education ideas that I have been learning at STEP. Most importantly, I want to work in a community close to my hometown and at a school that values restorative justice in its curriculum. Hopefully I will find an amazing school to continue developing my teaching skills.
Where do you hope to be in five years?
I hope to be a thoughtful and reflective teacher in five years. I know I will still be growing and learning new things about education for the rest of my life, so I know I will still have much to work on in five, 10 or 15 years because we never stop being students. I would love to be a Cooperating Teacher and work with STEP students in the future.
What advice do you have for students who are trying to decide whether to attend STEP?
My biggest advice if you are deciding whether or not to choose STEP is to come and meet the outstanding staff and have a conversation with one of the students in the current cohort. CERAS [the building on campus where STEP is located] essentially becomes your home for the year you are in the program, so just like with house hunting, you have to STEP inside and see what it is all about before you buy! I’m sure you will have a great time meeting the friendly staff and eating the delicious snacks.
Any tips for incoming students to help them get the most from their time in STEP?
Take advantage of Stanford’s plethora of resources and be sure to talk to the friendly people in the STEP office. I have enjoyed their genuine company and hearing their stories about teaching. Talking with the staff has made my day more times than I can count.
This interview was conducted via email in February and March 2016.