How did I get here?
To begin this story is to say that I was not looking for education but education found me. The year was 1996, as many undergraduates, I waited in the Registrar’s Office, in the interest of finding work-study. With many options to choose from, I casually decided what I saw in my early understanding as easiest: Elementary School Tutor. The job description was clear: tutor elementary students in their studies after school. Author Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss) stated, and I paraphrase, “that you never know how profound a moment is until it becomes a memory...” Here is where education found me.
During this same time, I too was receiving emails from Academic Advisors, advising that it was time to pick a major. I had been attending classes and tutoring for a few weeks, ignoring advising, when a day, a moment happened that would set everything in motion. The group of students on this day was given their sight words to practice. While working with a student, on the other side of me I heard another young student struggling with a word. Tutoring how taught, I briefly turned to him and said, “Sound it out” before continuing to help the first student, leaving him still struggling with the word. Then it happened; his friend sitting on the other side of him said, “Remember how the teacher showed us? What’s the sound of each letter [modeling for him]? Now bring the sounds together [modeling again for him].” At this moment I recognized that tutoring…teaching was a science, and teachers model the skills students must learn to do, to know, so as to understand. Immediately after this, I declared my major.
The educator journey began, and middle school mathematics would be the first stop. There is not enough time or space to share the stories I could tell. In those 13 academic years, it was the students’ academic musts that would repeatedly influence me to do, so to know, so as to understand that to be an educator was to teach both students and content. At times, to implement instructional theory, a teacher must recognize child development. This understanding would be what guided my educational side journeys and continued teaching of mathematics, as well as academic learning of middle school students--then onto the observing of field experiences, practicums, student teaching, and novice teaching. There seemed a type of isolated understanding into many educational candidates: I am a teacher of ___ (place subject here), but what of students?
Here began the second part of my educator journey: “Hello College…Dr. R is here!” From foundations to theory, and onto methods I learned, modeled, and developed, I worked to influence the “understanding,” because you must know (understand) how teacher candidates learn, just as before with my middle school students. My time within an Educator Preparation Provider (aka EPP) setting again had me observing, in a slightly different order, an EPP’s scope and sequence of courses, criteria for placements, key assessments, objectives for field experiences, and development of resources to monitor and support candidates in their program of study. Oh, and also a successful accreditation.
So how now I arrived here at CAEP—yup—directing EPPs to cultivate future tutors, teachers, that will go on to understand that teaching is more than just sounding it out. My goal is to guide EPPs on the scope and sequence of courses, key assessments, and field experiences so as to better support the teaching of candidates who will be our future P-12 teachers.