Taylor Harris: Veteran, Coach, SED Alumnus

Boston University School of Education alumnus Taylor Harris talks about how his time at BU and in the Marine Corps prepared him for a career in coaching. Taylor is a former NCAA Division I lacrosse player, and as an assistant coach helped lead the Tufts University men’s lacrosse team to a NCAA DIII championship.

While coaching at Tufts, Taylor completed the School of Education’s masters program in Physical Education & Coaching (Class of 2015). After graduation, Taylor went on to become the program coordinator for Northwestern University’s women’s lacrosse program.

Special thanks to Professor Michelle Porche for creating and editing this video.


Summer Camp 2015

By Sara Toledo, SED 2018

Sara Toledo PhotoFor education majors, it can be difficult to decide what to do with your summer. While internships are available for a lot of other career paths, that’s not as much of a possibility for those pursuing education. Since the academic school year does not run during the summer, it can be difficult to find a position in a school over the summer.View post That was an issue I ran into this year.

Around the end of the Spring 2015 semester, I realized I should probably start looking for a job for the summer so I could make some money while I was at home for 3-4 months. Throughout my life, I have attended a summer day camp program ever since I was 6 years old. When I was old enough and eligible to become a junior counselor, I worked for the summer camp I attended in the previous years called Sesame/Rockwood Day Camp. Unfortunately, I stopped working for the Summer 2013 and Summer 2014 seasons but this year I missed it so much I had to go back to that camp environment that I loved so much. Another unfortunate point in my decision to go back to camp was that I now lived about an hour away from my old camp, Sesame/Rockwood.

I knew I definitely wanted to work at summer camp, however I wanted to find something closer to home. I looked around and applied to a few places in my area and eventually went in to interview at a camp called Windmill Day Camp. After talking with two of the amazing directors, I realized that Windmill would be a perfect fit for me. I gratefully accepted when they offered me a position and came back in a few weeks to start training.

Training at Windmill proved to be a really fun, friendly, and constructive environment. All of my fellow staff members were extremely welcoming and let me in to their little family that they had already built there. Although I had been in a camp environment for most of my summers, it was hard and nerve racking to move to a new camp. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the strong passion for a familial atmosphere that they embodied at Windmill.

When it came time for camp to start, I was very excited to receive my new group of campers! With my trusty co-counselor Abby by my side, we started off on a great foot with our group of six-year-old campers. I was very excited to work with my six year olds, not only because camp is fun, but because I might want to teach first grade one day and that’s what age they will be (after all this job was supposed to give me an “internship” type work experience).

It proved to be a challenging summer when I was given a group of five year olds for the second half of camp, this time without a co-counselor. Although flying solo was nerve racking, to say the least, I think it was a very realistic feel to what teaching will be like. I was appreciative that my directors not only gave me the opportunity to work by myself, so I could gain a little more experience, but I was also humbled that they trusted me enough to venture out on my own with my own group. I definitely enjoyed my summer at camp and I really look forward to next summer. Hopefully, it will bring a lot of new challenges and experiences.

Sara is a sophomore in the School of Education, majoring in Elementary Education

Research (But Not the Boring Kind)

By Debra Regensburger, SED 2017

Debra PhotoAt 5 years old I already went around my kindergarten class telling others that I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up. I have known I wanted to teach for as long as I can remember; but I have also known that I am someone who needs change and growth often. My education at BU and SED so far has been thrilling and extremely informative but I find myself wondering what happens if I ever want to leave the classroom? I know I will still want to work with children and make a difference in education, but maybe not necessarily in the classroom setting. Luckily we have a wonderful thing called summer vacation where we can explore other sides of ourselves.

This summer as a member of the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP), I signed on as a research assistant under the mentorship of Dr. Zachary Rossetti, an assistant professor in the Special Education Department of SED. He was beginning a project, along with two doctoral students and a grad student, about culturally and linguistically diverse family’s experiences in Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings. The title of the project itself intimidated me and I was aware of the fact that I was the youngest member of the team. Maybe I had gotten myself in too deep. How would I understand all of the fancy research terminology? Would I be able to contribute anything?

At our first meeting, I and others were encouraged to speak up if we had any questions, and when I did ask my questions I was often praised for inquiring and thinking deeply about the project. I even asked questions that seemed irrelevant but in actuality connected to the theme or instead became a good conversation starter, which enabled me to learn even more about special education and research in general.

My tasks began with reading articles and discussing them with Dr. Rossetti in order to ensure that I fully understood our topic and how to conduct the research. I then began helping with the preparation for focus groups with parents. This led to attending the focus groups and transcribing the conversations that followed. Towards the end of the summer I began coding the transcriptions and now as the summer turns into the fall I am beginning to analyze with the research team and will hopefully be present for the writing of the article. I never imagined I could do or understand this much, but the guidance I received increased my confidence and allowed me to grow and learn.

As I look back on my summer I am amazed at the experience and mentorship I was fortunate enough to have. I still want to be a teacher and look forward to many years in the classroom. However, through UROP I discovered another opportunity that combines my passion for education and positive change.

Debra Regensburger is a junior in the School of Education, majoring in Elementary and Special Education

Mathematically Thinking

By Navraj Narula, SED 2016

As an English Education major, you would not find it surprising that one of the reasons why I picked literature to be my subject matter of expertise was because of the fact that I disliked math with a passion.

In middle school, I was required to take an exam that would determine whether or not I would be placed into the Algebra I class come eighth grade or whether I would remain in the standard math class. I did not pass this exam and ending up taking Algebra I my freshman year of high school instead. I felt as if this was the right fit for me because I was “bad at math.” Unfortunately, I chose to label myself as such for the remaining years of high school and first couple of college.

I did not neglect to study the material, though. I made a conscious effort to try to understand polynomial functions and I can tell you any day what F.O.I.L. stands for and when it should be used. However, math was taught to me in way that only served to promote my disinterest in the subject and made me feel like number theory was a necessity that I could lack.

I only came to discover the real-world applications that math could have when I began to take computer science courses within the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS). I was taught about the usefulness of statistical data, and how numbers can be used to highlight abnormal trends in medicine—maybe in an effort to even save lives. I learned how mathematically thinking about a problem can lead to clear-cut proofs and deliver messages that are hard to argue—that has got to be the art of persuasion at its finest. Functions itself, even if called upon recursively, can even be used to produce elaborate designs such as that resembling a Sierpinski carpet.

I am so excited to keep learning more about this new field I never felt the need to explore. All education should be stimulating as this!

Jessica Deshler and Elizabeth Burroughs, both mathematics university professors, collaborated on an article entitled “Teaching Mathematics with Women in Mind.” While I am in no way implying that (young) men in classrooms should remain amiss in the mind of a teacher when it comes to STEM subjects, I do think this article was a worthwhile read nonetheless.

Deshler and Burroughs claim that there are a minimum number of women in STEM fields for three reasons:

  • the existence of perceived gender differences (i.e. men are “smarter” than women in the field)
  • the lack of interest in STEM by women
  • the influence of the STEM workplace environment

As a female newly learning math, of course, I am thinking about such things as well, but more so about teaching mechanisms related to the topic. Deshler and Burroughs bring up another strong point regarding the fact that what is missing from the mathematical experience in classrooms—to all genders, I might even add—are explicit discussions about the opportunities they may one day have when they’ve taken more courses involving mathematical content.

This was certainly the case for me and I wonder how different the lives of some of my future students would be if they were taught in this more active manner. The idea of discussion, debate, and argument is certainly more so associated with the humanities and social sciences. Why not be more progressive and encourage it in all subjects as well?

Navraj Narula is a senior in the School of Education, majoring in English Education

Say Something

By Grace Dastous, SED 2017

I am part of the Elementary Educators Club here at BU. This club is a great opportunity for any student here at BU to volunteer at the Trotter Elementary School, which is an urban school in Dorchester. We raise money for events like Dads Read, which brings together fathers and families after school to read and enjoy books with their children. These parents, who may not have the opportunity to buy books or games for their children, benefit from our club because we provide an outlet for them to engage with their children, but we also raise money so that they are able to keep the books that they read.

Last semester, we had a guest speaker, Professor Jennifer Green, come to talk to us about bullying and how traumatic events affect children. It was a really valuable experience because there was only a small group of us, so instead of a huge lecture, we got to have a deep discussion about these topics and we were able to really divulge into the aspects that we wanted to know about. We got so engaged in the topic about bullying that we did not even have time to move on to children who have emotional and behavioral disorders.

Professor Green was very knowledgeable about bullying, a subject that is extremely important for the well being of our students, but one that is not completely talked about in a lot of our education classes. What really interested me was when Professor Green talked about using certain language when dealing with a situation that involves bullying. She said that children are more likely to report an instance of bullying if we used the word bullying. However, if we asked the student about the aggression using the definition of bullying instead of the word, they were less likely to report a false instance.

You see, the word “bully” or “bullying” has been used so frequently in passing, that when it comes to defining an instance of bullying, educators have to be really careful to make sure that it is a repeated offense, an act that is set out to hurt another peer, and an instance of power imbalance between the two students. Without this definition, it is not considered to be bullying, and may need to be dealt with in a different way. Teachers need to understand what bullying actually is so that we are able to prevent it and correct it in our classroom.

Professor Green also answered a lot of questions about how to deal with bullying. One frustrating point was that many students said that their teachers did nothing when they saw the child being bullied. As educators, we need to make sure our students know that we are there for them, and we need to act right away when this instance occurs. This is something that I had hoped I would have done as a teacher, however, hearing this highly educated woman state that it is a necessity really prepared me mentally to immediately deal with the situation and make it clear that nothing of this nature is okay.

All in all, bullying is a issue that need to be addressed: as a student, as a peer, and as a teacher. If teachers stand by and watch as students get bullied and do not act, not only will there be legal consequences, but emotional ones as well. Students deserve a role model that shows them not to be a bystander, not matter how tough or awkward it is. Students who are being bullied need to know that they are worth standing up for. Aggressors need to know that there is a limit; they need to learn how to care for others’ feeling and they need to learn how to deal with their frustration in a different way. As educators, is it is our job to speak up for all of our students and say something.

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

Why Science Education and the Importance of STEM Pedagogy in Higher Education

By Richard Von Itter, SED 2016

Science is an ever growing field that constantly pushes students to work in ways not normally found in other content areas. STEM heavily relies on inquiry-based methodology to reinforce different scientific concepts and ideas discussed in class. Ultimately, the magic found in any science class is laboratory work. Unlike other content areas, science allows students to explore what they have learned with hands-on activities. I will always remember my first dissection of a fetal pig in my freshman year of high school. I was able to take what I learned in my biology class and apply it right in front of me. Since coming to college, I have been able to work in multiple labs, ranging from ecology to microbiology, each adding new perspective to science education.

STEM pedagogy is incredibly relevant in higher education. Constantly I find myself working with professors that have had limited training in science pedagogy, meaning they have never been formally trained to teach. While all professors have great background in their content area, they sometimes come short when presenting information to a larger class. For any student, this can be incredibly frustrating.

I believe that STEM professors need to be trained in pedagogy before entering the classroom to ensure students are given ample opportunity to succeed in not only the current class, but future studies. Ultimately, this was the reason why I decided to go into science education. My ultimate goal is to become a professor one day that can not only give students the opportunity to gain knowledge, but understand how to effectively convey information in a way that best facilitates learning.

Richard Von Itter is a senior in the School of Education, majoring in Science Education and Biology