By Carina Traub, SED’16
“This is for you.” Catlynn, one of my eighth grade English students hands me a packet of poetry. I give her a hug. I still have a week left of my student teaching in Ecuador, but this is my first major goodbye, as Catlynn is leaving early for vacation.
Catlynn and her class had formed this surprisingly well-developed inside joke about their plan to get me to stay in Ecuador forever. First, I needed to drop out of college. In their heads, when you drop out of college, you work at McDonald’s, so they decided that would be my second step. In order to prepare me for this, they taught me how to say, “Bienvenidos a McDonald’s, con que le puedo ayudar?” (Welcome to McDonald’s, how can I help you?). Catlynn had become very invested in getting me to “give up on my dreams” and work in an Ecuadorian McDonald’s so I could live with her and never leave.
However, as I sat in my classroom, reading through Catlynn’s packet, I reached the ending of one of her poems (copied exactly from the original):
“From the bottom of my heart
I wish you graduate successfully
And become a English teacher
Carina you do need a degree actualy
Never stop chasing your dreams”
I may not have been able to teach her when to use “a” versus “an,” or how to spell “actually,” but clearly we were able to form a meaningful relationship. And when I wonder where I learned how to form such meaningful relationships with students, I simply think back to the lessons my School of Education professors have taught me by example.
Professor Christina Dobbs taught me about meaningful relationships when she didn’t just go the extra mile, but she went 2,973 extra miles to come observe me teach in Ecuador, demonstrating just how much she cares about me and my progress as an aspiring educator. Professor Jen Green showed me how to care for students by comforting me after a family emergency, even though I’d never even taken a class with her before.
I could go on and on about times I was struggling and SED professors didn’t just come to my rescue, but made me feel supported and capable myself. They showed me firsthand the power of meaningful relationships with students, and I feel fortunate to have been able to bring that connectivity to my classroom in Ecuador. As Professor Johanna Ennser-Kananen puts it, “there is no education without relation.”
Carina Traub graduated from the School of Education this May, as a major in English Education, English, and English as a Second Language.