The Business of Blazers

By Mackenzie Morgan, SED 2016

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When I wear high heels I feel empowered to take on the world and when I throw on a blazer, I know that I mean business that day; I mean business most days.

My extensive wardrobe of business clothes is one of my proudest accomplishments (I’ve been slowly working on it for years). I like dressing like a professional—wait, no—I like being a professional. I also like waking up on Sunday and throwing on leggings and my largest sweater, covering my hands with droopy sleeves and throwing my hair into a messy ponytail. Our outfit choices each day relay a message both to the world and to ourselves regarding how we are feeling that day, what we plan to accomplish, and how we want to be seen by those around us. So what do we mean when we say “dress to impress” or “dress for success” and how does that translate to teachers?

Teachers have very different wardrobe expectations than politicians or business people and I don’t think that this is a trend we should accept. We are being watched by young minds each and every day. Snazzy bowties and novelty ties are not only a great conversation starter, but they also provide a way to elevate the position of teachers and reach our students in new ways by showing them the power of emboldening yourself through an outfit that puts you in charge. Teachers who ditch the jeans and white sneakers in favor of more professional alternatives indicate to students, parents, and anyone with an eye on the world of education that they take their job seriously. Dressing to the same caliber as business people, lawyers, and politicians is one way of putting ourselves on their playing field; they are trained professionals and so are we. We are experts in our field and our knowledge should be respected. We need to be indicating to the world that what we are doing matters and we know that and we want others to know that too.

Many people think that dressing nice means dressing boring, but we don’t have to compromise our identities or expression of individuality in order to dress like professionals. Professional outfits have just as many, if not more, opportunities for customization, creativity and expression. You can wear purple heels on Tuesday and red flats on Friday. You can replace the tie with a bowtie or throw on a tweed blazer on the days you’re feeling extra quirky. Pair your favorite dress with a nice sweater, express yourself through the pattern on your shirt, or make your outfit shine with some choice jewelry. Whatever you do, show your students that you mean business when it comes to teaching them because you know that each and every one of them, if they so desire, has what it takes to one day rock a blazer and the responsibilities that come with it.

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

Experiencing a New Kind of Beautiful

By Grace Dastous, SED 2017

Before coming to Boston University, I had never been exposed to a lot of people who have disabilities. In my school and my town, it was never something that was talked about or discussed. Of course, I had friends who had disabilities and struggled with living in a world that is all about being “normal,” but I had never had a serious conversation about what it meant to be a person who has a disability or how that disability defines you. However, when I came to BU, I decided that I wanted to major in Special Education as well as Elementary Education. I had never realized how many opportunities I would have in the past couple years to really explore what it meant to work with people who have a disability.

My first real discussion about disabilities was during the First Year Student Outreach Program this summer when I was a staff member. My group and I had great discussions about what it meant to be someone with a disability. If you just Google “Inspirational disabilities TED talk,” the first one that comes up is a discussion with Stella Young about people who have disabilities. Many people who have a disability do not want to be gawked or admired for simply getting out of bed in the morning. These people are more than just their disability. It does not define someone; it is just a part of the person they are.

I am participating in Special Olympics this semester. Every Tuesday from 5-7, I go and volunteer with the Special Olympics team in Brookline while they practice their flag football. Last week we had our tournament on Sunday, which was just amazing to see these athletes play. To be honest, going to Special Olympics every Tuesday lightens up my week. My friend Steve is not afraid to give you an Elvis Presley or a Johnny Cash impression. I see Melanie every week at Special Olympics, but she also works at the dining hall, which is awesome because I get to talk to her at least twice a week. Dmitri is always willing and excited to give you a high five. Rem will always give you a hug if you are feeling sad, happy, or simply just cold.

I have discovered that my new friends are more than just someone with a disability; they are individuals with depth and understanding that is similar to everyone else. I think that sometimes people are afraid to talk about disabilities or to talk to someone with a disability, but to them I would say just try it and find out.  I knew that I was always nervous about it, but you cannot overcome that fear without experiencing someone who has a disability. It was something that has changed my life. Although I want to do Elementary Education and Special Education, I am constantly rethinking of doing more involving children and people who have a disability. You could be surprised how much they would be able to make you smile every day.

Grace Dastous is a sophomore in the School of Education, majoring in Elementary and Special Education

ED 100: My First Experience in a Classroom

By James Teixeira, SED 2018

It’s strange to think that just a short time ago I was in the college decision process, anxiously deliberating which college would be the best fit for me. BU was always my dream, but when it came time to make the decision, I had to be sure that I was confident in my choice. BU drew me in for several reasons – its perfect location in the heart of Boston, its strong education program, and the tight knit community that is SED. One special thing that set BU apart from my other college options was the ability to be placed in the classroom my freshman year – for me, it would occur in my very first semester of college.

After just 6 short weeks, I was absolutely confident that I made the right choice in attending BU. One of the best experiences I have had so far at BU is attending my field placement for ED 100, my introduction to education course. Each Wednesday, I am bused to Lexington, Massachusetts to Bowman Elementary School to assist in a fifth grade classroom. Although I am a secondary education major, working with fifth graders has been a very memorable experience for me. One of my weekly tasks is to lead a reading group of about five students. I thoroughly enjoy getting to know these select few, learning their strengths and a little bit about each individual outside of their academic abilities. As the weeks go on, I find myself further involved in classroom activities, often tending to students one on one or in small groups. The kids never cease to amaze me – they are an extremely enthusiastic and motivated group of students. They are always eager to participate in class and provide intelligent insight. I also love observing my cooperating teacher, and taking note of his excellent teaching skills, some of which I hope to implement into my own classroom someday.

I have wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember. Coming from a family of teachers, I always placed the highest emphasis and appreciation on my education growing up. I decided from a young age that I wanted to continue my family’s tradition and continue on our teaching legacy. Many of my teachers growing up confirmed my desire to go into the teaching profession, instilling faith in me. The field placement in ED100 has even further confirmed my desire to become an educator. Working with children in the fifth grade classroom has provided further emphasis for my passion to work with children. I can’t wait to have my own classroom of students, not only helping them to master subject matter but to instill values and morals that help them to become model citizens in their communities.

James Teixeira is a freshman in the School of Education, majoring in History Education. 

I Teach Social Studies: Now What Does That Mean?

By Alex Bruno, SED 2015

As I sat in my Teaching Historical Literacy class, the voices of Howard Zinn and Peter Gibbon flowed from the speakers; eloquently arguing the place of teaching patriotism during a time of war within America’s classrooms. Both having spent time at Boston University, Zinn as a professor and Gibbon as a senior research fellow, this conversation really felt as if it was hitting home. And as the debate began to unfold, it became evident to me that these two men were having a conversation much bigger than themselves; Zinn was not merely advocating for a more honest approach to analyzing the United States place in history and Gibbon was not just stating that students should be taught informed loyalty to their country. These two men were having a larger conversation that happens every single day between educators. They were talking about what the students of this country should be taught and what they should walk out of the classroom knowing.

So then, what does it mean to teach social studies? To answer this question, I thought back to all the courses I have taken throughout my time at BU and what my professors have taught me. I can think back to my very first history class at BU, entitled American Popular Culture. Through books like Peyton Place, Passing and Focus, my professor showed me how to look at history through the eyes of the people and the popular culture of that time period. Fast forward to sophomore year and my professor is breaking down the intricacies of US foreign policy and its repercussions around the world. Now move to junior year and I am being taught the importance of citizenship education and having students take an active role in their community. And now put yourself back into my Teaching Historical Literacy classroom, a senior only a few months away having my own class as a student teacher.

But during this reflective cycle of thought, a peaceful revelation came to me; that revelation being that there is no predicated method to teaching Social Studies. Teaching this subject can be everything from examining the trends of urbanites through the lens of Alfred Hitchcock in Rear Window to discussing the ramifications of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. It can be something as minute as touring your students through the city they live and explaining its geography or as large as getting them to register to vote in their first election. This freedom truly embodies the beauty of teaching social studies and as long as we as educators push students to become more open minded active human beings in their community and in their schools, this freedom will never change.

Alex Bruno is a senior in the School of Education, majoring in History.

Community

By Emily Talley, SED 2016

The facts are that Boston University has 33,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 10,000 faculty and staff, and what I imagine to be an entire militia of facilities and grounds keepers that check the oil in this well-oiled machine. In the midst of all of this, the School of Education is here to, once again, teach y’all a lesson – this time, about community. It’s one of the first things that we all talk about in regards to our school. This is not just a sales pitch, and it certainly isn’t by mistake.

Boston University has been serving me up new challenges every day in every way since I bought my first one-way bus ticket to South Station, but the School of Education has always had me covered. Before I arrived on campus I had a phone call from a Dean’s Host, a postcard from a Transitional Mentor, a personal meeting with the former Director of Student Services Jackie Boyle, and a lot of business cards on my corkboard. At Orientation I met people who have been challenging my ideals and buying me coffee to this day. As an upperclassman, my former mentee is one of my best friends. My ED100 group that took the Rocket Bus to Alcott Elementary School every Wednesday still gets together at least once a semester. Before I left to study abroad, my Dean’s Host family gave me a scrapbook, and even though she doesn’t advise our student groups anymore, I still emailed pictures to Jackie Boyle the day after the Transitional Mentor Harbor Cruise.

So okay, maybe you say I’m sentimental – I will deny it to the bitter end. Maybe, you say, I made the decision to be so involved in SED – to that I say: why wouldn’t I be? Maybe it’s me or maybe it’s Maybelline or maybe it’s no one thing at all. Community is in our foundation, in our attitudes, and in our expectations.

Our offices hold annual holiday parties with team activities. Our advisors teach our courses and show up on Sunday mornings to stand side-by-side with us and present at Open Houses. Dean Vaughn would stop me in the street to say hello on my way to class. Dean Lehr stopped me in the hallway last week. Professor Tate invites everyone to his faculty-in-residence apartment every Monday night to have cookies baked by his wife and chat about his French-speaking grandchildren. Our Dean’s Hosts boast about Transitional Mentors, our Transitional Mentors build Student Government meetings into their agenda, and our Student Government invites everyone together for events that easily become traditions because we, as a collective effort, choose to make them memorable.

The School of Education, like all good teachers, states the objective early, starts the lesson immediately, uses a range of examples, and provides ample opportunities to show what you know. The School of Education, above all else, teaches community.

Emily Talley is a junior in the School of Education, majoring in Modern Foreign Language. 

The Boston Book Festival with English Educators

By Carina Traub, SED 2016

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At Boston University, we like to say that Boston is our campus. This felt especially true the weekend of the Boston Book Festival in October. English Educators, the club for English education majors and other students interested in the teaching of English, explored the festival together, and attended two talks, one about education and another about young adult literature.

The first talk we attended was Finnish Lessons, featuring Pasi Sahlberg, an education expert from Finland. I had written a final paper using his book Finnish Lessons and even blogged about my excitement over the Finnish education system last year. Listening to him speak was so fantastic, and it was so gratifying to introduce my fellow club members to the magic of Finnish education.

Between talks, we wandered through the various booths. The community value of literacy was palpable, and affirming as an English Educator. We stopped by the booth for 826 Boston, a creative writing and homework center for underserved students in the Boston Public Schools. Our club raised over $500 for the organization last year during the Write-a-Thon, so it was rewarding to see all the students they were engaging at the festival.

After collecting a plethora of free bookmarks and perusing the $3 book sales, we headed to our second talk: Young Adult (YA) Literature- Tackling Tough Topics. As English teachers, we seek to help our students learn from other perspectives and process important topics. However, it can be quite the balancing act to raise such meaningful issues and then break them down effectively. The panel, featuring four YA authors and moderated by the Boston Public Library children’s librarian, discussed issues such as sexuality, abuse, sexual assault and rape.

As a student organization of future educators, we greatly benefitted from the discussion. One of the English Educators club members, an exchange student from France, could not believe that talking about sex was so taboo in American schools. I personally was interested in how books that tackle tough topics could avoid being classified as “problem novels,” a YA literature term about books that are reductive in their treatment of a particular issue. Problem novels cease to exist outside their issues, while the books of our panelists and many reputable YA authors take a more whole-book approach, where the emphasis is on characters and plot as opposed to a single issue consuming everything.

During the Boston Book Festival, I was especially grateful to have Boston as my campus. My professors were authors and experts, and I was immersed in a world passionate about literacy. Thank you, Boston, for a wonderful weekend.

Carina Traub is a junior in the School of Education, majoring in English Education.