I have recently completed my second year at the University of Mary Washington, and want to take the time to reflect upon my past experience.
During these past two semesters, I have had the opportunity to advance in my area of study, to gain additional practicum classroom experience, and to participate in numerous extracurricular and work-based experiences on campus.
Fall 2018 Middle School Practicum
In the Fall 2017 semester, I participated in an education practicum in a local middle school as part of my EDUC 351: Instructional Design and Assesment course – with sixth graders, to be exact. You can see a few posts from my Instagram detailing that experience here! This experience helped me boost my confidence as a leader in the classroom, and opened up a whole new set of possibilities for me, as I learned that I really do enjoy working with middle schoolers! This practicum challenged me to learn ways to present age-appropriate yet challenging information to an age group that I have never previously worked within an academic setting, as I was able to combine some of my classroom management skills from the preschool and Kindergarten level (yes, many of those skills transfer over to sixth graders with only slight modification necessary) along with teaching skills from my Spring 2017 AP US History practicum.
This past practicum experience was truly special to me, as I got to constantly engage with the students. Having come in only twice a week, I was lucky to have been able to lead lessons, create lessons, administer tests, and work with small groups and individual students. I was even able to put a name to a face to all of my students – which is a checkmark in my book, and I felt as though I made an honest difference in the days and learning experiences of many of my “borrowed” students. Looking forward to the Fall 2018 semester and beyond, I hope that I will have similar experiences. I believe that my greatest challenge will be adapting to teaching unfamiliar information – as I am by no means an expert in all secondary-level social studies subjects!
Spring 2018 Resident Assistant Experience
In November of 2017, I made the decision to apply to become a Resident Assistant at UMW. While I was originally unsure about the position, I applied, interviewed, and accepted a spot in an upperclassmen residence hall with 41 rather quiet residents. Ultimately, I decided that the overall position was not for me, however, I gained numerous invaluable skills that I am very thankful for. I gained experience in serving as a leader for my fellow peers, working extensively in groups with my fellow RAs to plan programs and solve problems, responding to conflicts and crisis situations, (and filling out the proper ensuing paperwork) and reaching out to and bonding with a large variety of individuals that I would have never otherwise met.
During the semester, I enjoyed being able to help my residents both through email and in-person, giving tours of my residence hall to prospective residents, and program planning. Our complex of residence halls put forward two great programs during the Spring 2018 semester, our “Pot-A-Plant” and “Treat-Yo-Self” programs! (Yes, both of these programs involved potting plants, and both of these programs were a lot of fun.) During my time as an RA, I learned about the importance of both transferable, buildable skills and interpersonal skills – all of which are quite useful for teaching!
I am thankful for my experience as an RA, and thankful to be able to look forward to my next on-campus employment as an Access Services Assistant at Simpson Library. Here’s to next semester!
The Firearms Club of UMW
In the summer of 2017, a mutual friend on Facebook posted in order to gauge interest for a possible Firearms Club on campus. Having grown up learning about gun safety and taking trips to the range, I immediately commented showing my interest, as I liked the idea of meeting individuals interested in the sport and hobby, and learning about their different perspectives and experiences. Fast forward a year later, and I am an Executive Board member of a well-established club with 30-50 members who participate and engage in range safety trips, personal safety classes, paintball outings, advocacy, discussions, education, and more – and I have made some great friends along the way. (All three of my future apartment-mates, to be exact.)
While our club has faced backlash on campus, as many do not feel comfortable with the presence of a pro-firearms club at UMW, I am thankful that our university has been able to support us and allow for our continued existence, as well as for the support of my fellow club members. As the Researcher, I lead “Discussion Days” within the club where we learn about topics such as gun laws in Virginia and the US, gun safety, myths and misnomers, current events, and more.
Looking forward to next year, my hopes are that we are able to introduce a firearms-free personal safety class for those undecided about the topic of firearms, with the intention of providing education regarding less-than-lethal self-defense options to our fellow college students and the community! I also hope that we are able to have a beginner-oriented range safety trip so that those unfamiliar with firearms will be able to learn basic safety and engage in target shooting in a safe, professional, environment.
What about my History Major? (And Social Studies Endorsement…)
This past school year, I took my first 300 level history course and completed my 297 and 298 methods courses. In the Fall 017 semester, I signed up, on a whim, for a class on the Stuart British Isles, and ended up really enjoying the subject of British history! I took a course on Hanoverian Britain the following semester and will be taking a course of Colonial America during the Fall 2018 semester. Regarding my HIST 297 and 298 courses, which have taught me research, analytical, presentation, and writing skills, I engaged in two research projects regarding 19th-century Chinese Funerary Rituals and the roles of early Victorian Englishwomen. Because of these classes, my domain is what it is now! In addition to history skills, I learned about managing and modifying this domain – a practice that I will be continuing in my Digital Studies minor.
Additionally, as part of my social studies endorsement, I am taking classes to fulfill basic social studies requirements outside of my history major, including Political Science, Geography, and Economics. I have already completed Introduction to Political Science and Introduction to International Relations and will be taking American Government and World Regional Geography next semester.
Looking Ahead and Summer Plans
I am looking forward to my junior year! While I already have been a junior by credit for a whole semester, I will officially begin my third year at UMW in August.
I will be working for the third year at my local preschool and Kindergarten – in both aide and lead positions. Beginning next week, I will help out with end-of-year procedures, including the Spring Fun Fair. (complete with inflatables, crafts, and face painting – which I get to do with one of my coworkers, and more…) Soon, it will be time to begin planning for Summer Camp. During summer camp, different teachers take the time to plan a handful of themed weeks. You can see some of the activities and crafts that I planned for different themed weeks on my Instagram, as well as the bulletin boards – which I designed and put up each week!
I have been working at this location since the end of my senior year of high school, and I have learned so much about teaching and working with children. I am thankful to have such a great place to work – and can’t wait to be back with the students and campers again!
During my time off on the weekends this summer, I hope to explore the outdoors, try new restaurants, visit Busch Gardens, and catch up on all of the odds and ends that I didn’t have a chance for during this past school year.
Looking ahead to the 2018-19 school year, in addition to continuing within my history major and education courses, I am looking forward to taking the first course in my Digital Studies minor, as I am taking Introduction to Digital Studies! I hope that I can incorporate those skills into my future classrooms and projects. During the end of the Spring 2018 semester, I attended a HIST 485 Symposium in which students from the Adventures in Digital History (ADH) course presented their final projects, including a 360 video tour of the James Monroe Museum, a digitized map and archive of a local cemetery, and a hotspot map of key locations in Downtown Fredericksburg. I found all of these projects to be quite impressive, and now hope that I can take the ADH course when it is next offered!