Education: A conversation with New Hampshire’s future educators
Article taken from the Concord Monitor, September 27, 2021
The past year and a half has not been an easy one for teachers, who have had to tackle remote and hybrid learning challenges the likes of which have never been seen in education. But among New Hampshire’s future educators, optimism remains high.
Emma Breed and Logan Cassin are both education students at New England College, who have their sights set on become teachers right here in the Granite State.
Breed, 19, who grew up in Hillsboro, is a sophomore elementary education major working toward her certification in teaching for grades K-6. She wants to be a classroom teacher for grades K-2.
Cassin, also 19, who grew up in Penacook, is a sophomore secondary education major with a focus in secondary social studies. He wants to be a high school social studies teacher, and then eventually a school administrator.
Breed and Cassin each sat down with the Concord Monitor to talk about how they were drawn to become teachers, and their hopes for the future. The following transcript has been condensed and edited for length and clarity.
Q: What got you interested in becoming a teacher?
Emma Breed – When I was in sixth grade, I started volunteering in a kindergarten classroom in the district I went to school in. After that I was like, ‘let’s see where this goes,’ and I started volunteering in other areas where students were the focus. In the classroom that I was in, I was seeing how all these kids really want to learn, which isn’t necessarily what you see with older kids. But I think that does start at the foundation of where kids are learning. Having a group of kids where you can teach them why it’s important to learn, and help them to foster a love of learning at that point in time was something I realized I want to do.
Logan Cassin – When you attend Merrimack Valley your sophomore and junior year, you get a chance to attend the Concord Regional Technical Center (CRTC). I went over there, at the time it was called Teacher Prep but in my second year it changed to Behavioral Science. They have their own lab with preschool children there. Even though preschool isn’t necessarily my thing, going in there and spending time with the kids and doing activities teaching things, it was an instant attraction. Knowing I could go in there and make a difference in any way, it was gratifying. That’s what set it off for me.
Q: How did you choose your area of focus?
L.C. – In my senior year I did an internship with a junior-level high-school English class, and the kids who were engaged were having very in-depth conversations and I was able to poke my head in and ask more questions. I think for me, being at a high-school level the course material and intense level of thought was what drew me to that specific aspect. When it comes to social studies, I’ve always loved history. A lot of history is told by the winners, but all the details that are in history that sometimes go forgotten, with every fact you learn it opens up a new avenue of questions for yourself.
Q: Do you feel optimistic about the job market for educators?
E.B. – I do, because I think teachers are always necessary. I think we realize that now more than ever with the pandemic, when everyone was going to remote learning. There are online resources to help students learn, but ultimately the biggest thing that people realized is students do have questions that need answers and sometimes they can’t get those direct answers from a digital resource. While those digital resources can be incredibly helpful and assist teachers in answering those questions, I think that connection that’s made from person to person is really important.
L.C. – I definitely am optimistic. A lot of educators I had, they had a lot of experience in their field. I had a few retire as I was graduating who had been in education for 20 or more years, so I think seeing those standards from our point of view when we were students kind of instilled in us that when we go somewhere, we will stay teaching for a long time.
Q: What’s one thing teachers should remember about what it is like to be a student?
L.C. – Not every student wants to be in your classroom. In most high schools specifically, you go from class to class and you’re ticking off boxes to get a diploma. So if you can make your classroom fun and inventive and those students enjoy it … it makes a whole difference. Many teachers can look back at classrooms they’ve been in and implement them into your own. I think that’s one of the best things about being an educator, is looking on your experiences as a student and putting them into your teaching.
E.B. – At NEC, we’re practicing creating lesson plans and practicing teaching them to each other and developing hooks and all these different ways to engage students and every single time I have to relate it to, ‘well what would I have really enjoyed?’ or ‘I did something really similar to this when I was in school, what worked or didn’t work?’ you have to put yourself in the mind of your students.
Q: What are you looking forward to most about your first teaching job?
E.B. – I am looking forward to being able to apply all the things I have learned while at NEC. I have been working with kids for quite a long time, but having all that background knowledge there’s still so much more to learn. As a teacher you’re going to be constantly learning new things about your class and better ways of doing things, and that really does come from reflective practice.
L.C. – One of the big things I’m looking forward to is completing a full school year, because I think that’s the biggest challenge. Once you complete that full year, you’ll be able to reflect on what you’ve done and improve it. Every new thing you change about a course will teach you so much about yourself, so much about your students, and it’s an evolution that never stops.