Be a Bostonian and “Pass the Line”

By Heather Cohen, SED’17 

Heather with Scott Hoying, a member of Pentatonix.

Heather with Scott Hoying, a member of Pentatonix.

I have always been a lover of music. Whether I am doing homework, walking in Boston, or trying to fall asleep, I am always listening to music. I never leave anywhere without my headphones, and Spotify has become my best friend. But nothing comes close to hearing the music you love, performed right in front of you.

One of the great things about going to school in a city like Boston is not only the fact that almost every musical artist makes a stop here, but we have one of the best venues (in my opinion), The House of Blues. The House of Blues is right across from Fenway Park and is in walking distance of almost every student who lives on campus. It feels like a small venue but it can still hold over 2,000 people. I have had the privilege of seeing 5 concerts at this venue and for all of them, I was 3rd row or closer. The beauty of the House of Blues is that you have the option of buying tickets with seats or standing room tickets. So if you prefer to get there on time instead of getting there early for good spots, getting a seat ticket is the way to go. However, I will share a little trick with you that might change your mind about waiting in line for standing room tickets.

When I went to see the incredibly talented acapella group, Pentatonix, I got there 6 hours early because I wanted to be as close as I possibly could to the stage. I had waited forever to see this group and I had my heart set on front row. When I got to the venue, there were only two girls there and since I had gone by myself, we started making conversation to pass the time. They told me that there were VIP tickets, so those lucky people would go in first by doing something called “pass the line.” I had never heard of this, so they explained it to me.

The House of Blues has a restaurant right next to the concert venue. If you eat at the restaurant before the concert and you order off a certain menu, your waiter will sign your receipt. With that, you automatically get put into a different line. So you “pass” the main line and go ahead of them. Since Pentatonix had VIP tickets sold, VIP members went in first, then the “pass the line,” and then the general admission line.

This trick (that most people don’t know!) has allowed me to see Walk the Moon (twice), Matt and Kim, and Twenty One Pilots from the first or second row. And for these concerts, I didn’t have to stand in line for 6 hours. If the doors opened at 7:30, I got to the restaurant by 6:00, had a nice meal and was in line by 7:00. Then I only had to wait for a half an hour to see some of my favorite bands perform right in front of me.

So the next time your favorite artist is in town, and they’re playing at the House of Blues, show your knowledge of being a Bostonian and Pass the Line.

Addressing Diversity in the Classroom: English Language Learners

By Alisha Parikh, SED’17

As students in the School of Education training to be professional educators, we often hear in our courses of the importance of promoting and addressing diversity in our classrooms. I have always thought that addressing students’ diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds and experiences is of utmost importance. However, until this past semester, I had not had the opportunity to actually see this idea played out in a real classroom setting. This semester I have been student teaching in the Early Childhood Learning Lab Preschool at Boston University. In a class of seventeen children ages two-and-nine-months to five years old, we have six English Language Learners (ELLs). Learning how to more effectively work and interact with the ELL students we have in our classrooms has been an extremely valuable opportunity for me.

The first languages of the ELL students I’m working with are not the same. We have a range of languages, including Vietnamese, Korean, Cantonese, and Spanish, among others. It might at first seem difficult to address such a diverse array of first languages of our students. Though instruction at the ECLL is delivered in English, the various first languages of students are incorporated into our classroom activities through greetings in the morning message and counting at morning meeting. I have seen ELL students become more engaged and enthusiastic when they hear or see their language represented through greeting or counting activities. Incorporating the various languages is also a way of validating children’s linguistic and cultural backgrounds, something that is extremely important in a classroom of such young children.

Perhaps more important is the progression that I have seen in the language expression and skill of the ELL children. Initially, most of these children either did not express themselves much in any language or communicated only in their first language. After a few weeks, only a few of the children remained  less expressive to other children or to the teachers. Then, as if something had clicked or sparked in their minds, these children began to use more and more English words, especially during their play. This was amazing to me. I recalled having read in One Child, Two Languages by Patton O. Tabors, Ph.D., about the progression that ELL students go through in learning a second language; now, I was seeing this progression more or less play out in these children in the preschool. The book mentions that while initially ELL students may not be communicating with others in English, they are picking up cues, words, and phrases from the other students and teachers that are speaking English around them. The ELL children at the preschool who all of a sudden began introducing English words and phrases in their play must have had this same experience: that of perhaps not necessarily communicating in English but picking up the language from those around them. Though these children are not yet fluent in English today, the progression that I have seen them go through from the beginning of the semester until now has been extremely valuable, and serves as a reminder of what their young minds are capable of.

I think so highly of this experience because it is such an extraordinary example of how we are able to see in action the theoretical lessons we learn through our courses in the School of Education. The theory and research we read of plays out in a real world context through our student teaching/practical experience.  It has also been extremely valuable for me to experience something that I feel so strongly about in classroom settings; that this experience also addresses a greater idea of how to be a better educator within a diverse of student population, is more evidence of how valuable my student teaching experience here has been.

Alisha Parikh is a junior in the School of Education, majoring in Early Childhood Education 

TGFDH: Thank God for Dean’s Hosts

By Carolyn Hoffman, Picture1a freshman in the School of Education and College of Arts and Sciences, majoring in Social Studies Education and Psychology.

My first encounter with the dean’s hosts of SED occurred in the fall of my senior year. Upon entering SED, I was greeted with warm smiles from professionally dressed students. As I nervously mingled around the entryway with my parents, one by one dean’s hosts came up and introduced themselves to my family. Each dean’s host, articulate and poised, seemed to genuinely care about my past experiences and want to ensure my future experiences took place in their company at BU. Two in particular, both then juniors and now seniors, talked with me for close to a half hour; their major was the same one I was interested in. Leaving the SED Open House I said to myself, “If I come here, I want to be one of them.”

Over a year since that first encounter with the SED dean’s hosts, I can proudly say that I’ve joined their ranks and couldn’t be happier. Being a dean’s host here allows me to engage with prospective students and some of the most introspective and compassionate students of SED as well. While being a dean’s host is time commitment, each meeting and event I participate in gives something back. My fellow dean’s hosts care about SED, BU, and improving the state of education in the United States. Our majors and interests vary greatly, yet we all agree that a child’s education is a determiner for success.

At SED, we pride ourselves on the fact that being here offers us the “small school” feel within a large university. Being a dean’s host only heightens this feeling. The two dean’s hosts I met when I visited SED for the first time now serve as older siblings to me. They constantly check in on me and ask if they can do anything to help make my freshman year easier; their support and wisdom has guided me through the first two months of the biggest transition of my life. My fellow dean’s hosts and I have become a small, tight-knit family.

My advice to any students considering or currently in SED would be to apply to become a dean’s host. It is a group worth being a part of and experience worth having. The lessons you will learn (especially on how to interact with others and how to better appreciate different perspectives) will carry you far beyond college. Becoming a dean’s host has been one of the best decisions I have ever made, and it is by far my favorite component of life here at SED.

Ed.’s Note: The School of Education Dean’s Hosts are a select group of enthusiastic and knowledgeable undergraduate students who act as ambassadors for the School of Education. They dedicate their time and serve the SED community by hosting prospective students and families, as well as volunteering at SED community events with current BU students, parents, and alumni. You can contact the Dean’s Hosts Co-Presidents anytime at sedhost@bu.edu.

But Seriously, Who Are We?

By Alison Nadler, SED’17

This is the SED lobby where a group of five students might meet to discuss a class project they are all working on, a volunteer event they are all interested in, and a club meeting they all attended the night before.

This is the SED lobby where a group of five students might meet to discuss a class project they are all working on, a volunteer event they are all interested in, and a club meeting they all attended the night before.

Every student in the School of Education can tell you about Professor Tate and the hats he wears on the first day of our Introduction to Education course to demonstrate the various roles a teacher may hold. He explains that teachers are comedians, mentors, friends, and disciplinarians. Some teachers are just disciplinarians and some teachers are just friends. Looking back, I recognized that the best teachers are those who can assume all four roles. Now as a student in SED, I’ve realized that it’s not just teachers in a classroom who are multiple people at once.

I work in the Office of Undergraduate Student Services at SED. Being in the building everyday allows me to understand who my professors really are and what they do. They’re not just people who teach my classes: they are advisors to multiple students, they are researchers, they write articles and books, they attend conferences, they are sources of information, they share their experiences, they network with the larger Boston community, and they develop new classes. I even saw one of my professors in her role as a parent at a school where I have my pre-practicum. I am fortunate for the opportunity to see what I call the “behind the scenes” of SED.

But it’s not just my professors who do it all; the SED students hold many roles, too. It is not uncommon for one student to take classes with a professor who is also her advisor, work on group projects with peers who are her roommates, attend clubs of which her friends are presidents and have the same friends attend a club of which she is president, work on research with a professor (the same professor who, at some point, probably hosted a speaker to whom this student came to listen), and volunteer for Big BU events that at least one of her SED friends helped coordinate.

The interconnectivity of the SED community is what makes it so amazing. When students in SED say “we are a small community within a larger university,” they’re not lying. Our SED community is rare in that a huge percentage of SED students, faculty, and staff are involved in so many ways. Each of us contributes something separate and unique, but at the same time all of our contributions culminate to develop SED into what it is. I always wonder if I would be the person I am today without the experiences I’ve had at SED.

What I Have to Offer

By Mackenzie Morgan, SED 2016

MorganOn the first day of my student teaching practicum, I stood in front of twenty 10th graders and, later, twenty 11th graders and I tried to figure out how on earth I was going to do what I had come there to do. How was I going to convince these forty teenagers that if they gave their attention to me rather than their iPhones, it would eventually be worth it? How was I going to earn their respect, I wondered, and, even though I came here to give them something, did I really have anything to offer them?

Despite a fumbling introduction where my fun fact was “I really love Taylor Swift and Harry Potter,” I survived my first day and my students were fairly accommodating. But the most intimidating part about looking out at those forty different teenage faces on that first day was realizing that they were forty different teenagers, different from each other and different from myself at their age. Thinking back to myself at 15, 16, 17 wouldn’t do much good because they weren’t me. There would never be one solution or plan because they weren’t each other. And even though the theoretical, two-dimensional teenagers in my education textbooks made me briefly forget, these intimidating but unique and distinct individuals were exactly why I became a teacher and they were exactly what would be both most challenging and most rewarding in my time in the classroom.

As a student, I never had a favorite subject. Rather, I had favorite classes, which differed year-to-year depending on the teacher. I valued the teachers who treated me as a person and not just a name on the roster—those who had conversations with me about my life outside of their class and shared evidence of the fact that they themselves were people too. By these simple acts, they made me feel as though I, as one individual, was both appreciated for and capable of whatever it is I wanted to do. And what I wanted to do was do this for others.

I didn’t become a teacher to teach a class—I became a teacher to teach students. I quickly learned that this would never be easy. I always felt like I was letting someone down: the student who was ahead of her classmates who I wasn’t challenging enough, the student who did better reading alone but was made to read with the class, the student who preferred taking notes but was assigned an inquiry project, and so forth. I was never able to plan forty different, individual lessons, and while I was aware that different students were happy on different days, I was more worried by knowing that there was always someone else who wasn’t. I wanted all forty of them to be appropriately challenged, supported, and excited during every lesson and every day. This, I know, is idealistic, especially for my first time in a classroom.

At the end of the semester I asked my students to fill out a survey about my teaching to help me improve. It was true that they didn’t all like everything that we did and that some of them didn’t always feel challenged. But it was also true that they all felt respected, they all recognized and valued the one-on-one time I spent with each of them, and they each felt like I was kind and that I cared about them—not only as a class but also as individuals.

I thought back to all of the free periods and study halls that I spent working with individual students and the times that they let me in, telling me they wanted to help people and become a therapist, or about their football game, or about where they wanted to go to college, or what they did with their friends that weekend. I thought about the fact that even though one of my students never turned in any assignments and was failing my class the entire semester, I always recognized and valued his participation in class and reminded him about his missing assignments regularly, giving him new copies and offering to help him. Even though he never made up any of the work, on my last day he was the only student who gave me a card that was just from him, and not from the class. I was leaving him with the same 35% he had in my class for the past three months, but I was also leaving him feeling valued and capable despite his failing grade—because he is valued and capable, as are my thirty-nine other students.

I left my student teaching knowing that the next time I face forty or more distinct and unique teenagers, I will do so with the confidence that if they give me their attention, it will eventually be worth it. What I have to offer them is the respect for and dedication to letting each individual show me—and themselves—what it is they have to offer the world, because they each have something. And they each deserve to know that.

Mackenzie Morgan is a senior in the School of Education, majoring in History Education

How My First Day Student Teaching Made National News

By Rachel Hanson, SED 2017

HansonWhen my alarm sounded at 5:15 a.m. on my first day of student teaching, I jumped out of bed more eagerly than anyone should ever get up at 5:15 a.m.. My early morning voyage was completed before the sun was even up. I made it to Boston Latin Academy over an hour before first period started, something I haven’t managed to do since. I proudly walked right past the signs on the stairway that said “No students permitted before 7:10 a.m.” and was greeted by every teacher I walked past, nobody questions whether or not I should be there. I made my way to my cooperating teacher’s classroom and found it locked with the lights off, a friendly reminder on how early I was. As I waited, daydreams of what the lessons would be like entered my mind. My first day as a student teacher was made more memorable when what happened in class made national news.

When the first senior sociology class rolled in, I knew this was going to be a little different. The students were talking, loudly and passionately, amongst themselves about what had happened on Twitter and Instagram the night before. At one of the other exam schools in Boston, Boston Latin School, students had created a hashtag, Black at BLS (#BlackatBLS), to share their experiences being people of color in a school that is predominantly white. The hashtag calls attention to and creates a conversation addressing the injustices and racial discrimination that the students of color face. However, the Black at BLS hashtag was met with criticism. It is the criticism that the hashtag was receiving that angered the students in my cooperating teacher’s sociology class when a student from BLA posted a racially charged criticism against the students supporting the hashtag.

Being the teacher of three sociology classes, my teacher decided to forgo his original lesson for the day and instead provide students the opportunity to talk about the conflict on social media and their response and understanding of what happened. The sociology classes had just finished a unit on racism, so all he asked was that they rooted and rationalized their understandings and perspectives in what they had learned in the racism unit. The Boston Globe and the New York Times had articles about the Black at BLS response and backlash. Even more close to home, Boston University will be hosting the founders of the Black at BLS hashtag and movement in the School of Education for a Critical Conversations and Coffee event in March.

The students were going to have conversations about Black at BLS and its backlash no matter what, but my teacher saw an opportunity to provide a forum for those students to articulate intelligent responses rooted in sociology so they could go out and engage in meaningful conversations about race with their equally upset peers. What I learned on my first day was far more valuable to me than I could have possibly imagined as I daydreamt about what my first day would be like as I waited outside the classroom. I learned the value of a teachable moment, how to facilitate tough conversations, and when to prioritize real life over my lesson plans.

Rachel Hanson is a junior in the School of Education, majoring in History Education