Top Three Reasons Why I (and You) Should Want to Work with Children

By Noah Segal, SED 2017

1. If you are a guy, you are going to get a job.

If you’re a guy and you are willing to work with children in any capacity, then the chances of you not finding a job right out of college are slim. Women significantly out number men in the field of education. While it might not necessarily be fair, the truth is that men with education degrees have a much better shot at being hired, and in turn being promoted compared to their female peers. In a competitive job market you need to use anything you can to gain an edge, and being a man who is willing to work with children is a significant edge.

2. Never a dull moment.

Let’s face it; our generation gets bored fairly easily. We are either jumping from activity to activity or multitasking our way through the day. Working with kids provides you with the opportunity to do both. I can guarantee you that no single day will be the same. I would even go as far as saying that no single hour will be the same. Working with children provides you with the opportunity to engage in a variety of activities throughout the day, and the responsibility of being in charge forces you to be ready for anything thrown your way. The odds of you being great at expecting the unexpected will not be high at first, but that’s what’s so fun about it. Every single second of every single day forces you to grow as a teacher, but also as a person.

3. It’s hard but rewarding.

I think that it’s fair to say that above all else, what people are looking for in life is a purpose. We all need to find what drives us, what pushes us to dig deeper and work harder, all because we want to, not because we have to. Working with children provides you with the opportunity to develop a new purpose each day. Nothing is going to come easy, but there is nothing more gratifying than breaking through to a child and seeing them have that “ah ha” moment that you’ve both been striving towards.

Working with children is not going to be easy. Not everyone will respect your career choice; you won’t make as much money as your friends who work on Wall Street. There will always be something to grade, plan, assess, or adjust. You will connect with a group of children as time goes on, only to see them be replaced with new ones the following year. However, working with children is one of the most challenging, stimulating, and rewarding fields that you could potentially go in to, and although it’s not for everyone, you shouldn’t dismiss it just because others around you say so. Give it a try; you never know what might happen.

Noah Segal is a junior in the School of Education, majoring in Special Education

Reflecting on Year One

By Winki Chan, SED 2018

My first year at the School of Education passed by way faster than I expected it to. I can still remember introducing myself and repeating the phrase “Hi, I am Winki from Hong Kong,” spending hours putting up photos and fairy lights in my dorm room, getting lost in the School of Education building (all the half floors), and getting really excited about all-you-can-eat ice cream in the dining halls (I still do!). All these memories mark the start of my journey here at School of Education at Boston University.

There were so many first times and instances of taking up the initiative and stepping out of the comfort zone in this last year. There were moments when I was so nervous that I had to force myself not to run away, when I was so discouraged that I just wanted to quit. The beginning of the transition was definitely difficult because everything was new and it took time for me to find my place in the community. Thankfully, I was able to settle down with the help of my friends.

Before I made my decision to come to BU, one of the phrases that I heard most often was that SED is a close-knitted community within the greater BU community. I didn’t really buy it until I got here. Everyone was so helpful and friendly. (Maybe because we are all learning to be future teachers). I didn’t know how the T worked and an upperclassman gave me her extra Charlie Card; I bombed my Transitional Mentor with emails regarding how to register for classes and what to wear in the cold; I went on food adventures with my new friends and we found new ways to procrastinate together; I struck up random conversations with my professors about diversity in classrooms. I have gotten more and more comfortable and I can proudly call Boston University my home.

Now, as a rising sophomore, I no longer have problems with the half floors in the School of Education building. I no longer confuse Dining Points with Convenience Points. I know the best studying spot on campus. I am thankful for everything that has happened this last year and for everyone that I have met, because they have helped me find my way here amid the changes going through in my life.

Winki Chan is a sophomore in the School of Education, majoring in Early Childhood Education

The Past, Present and Future of My Passion

By Talia Cowen, SED 2017

The story of how I became interested and involved in my current major is somewhat comical. Rewind to the year 1960; my uncle Roger was born with Autism. A few years down the road, my Mom was born into a family that adored Roger and all that he had to offer to this world. Growing up with Roger led my Mom into working in the field of special needs, spending her summers and eventually her years working at the local community center as the Director of Special Needs. When I was around 9 or 10 years old, I remember walking in to the community center with my Mom. She saw someone she knew and they began communicating with their hands. I was so fascinated.

From that moment forward, I bragged as often as I could about my Mom’s incredible talent. I would flip my hair back, flash a toothy smile and say, “Yeah, my Mom knows Sign Language,” as if she had cured world hunger. I kept this little pride in the back of my mind for the next few years. When I was choosing my classes for my first year of high school, I noticed that American Sign Language was a language being offered and I could take it. I was over the moon with excitement! I shared the news with my Mom and told her how excited I was that she could help me! Her response, however, flipped my world upside down. She said to me, “Well Tal, I only know the alphabet and a few words, but I’m excited for you!” My face dropped. Everything I had ever known was a lie. I instantly felt less cool than when my Mom did know Sign Language.

Nevertheless, I decided to go through with taking it. During the first few weeks of the class we learned some basic signs and a lot about the Deaf culture and community. I was hooked. There was something about Deaf culture and community that tugged at my heart strings. I spent hours of my own time reading articles, watching YouTube videos of people signing, teaching my friends how to sign their names, and more. During my sophomore year of high school, it came to my attention that a lot of colleges and universities have language requirements of their applicants, and many of them do not accept American Sign Language as a language. Considering my love of this language and culture, I was infuriated. It was at that moment in time that I knew what I wanted to devote the rest of my life to, and luckily for me, any school that has Deaf Studies as a program does accept American Sign Language as a language for their language requirements.

When I began looking at colleges and universities during my junior year of high school, I found a wide range of programs. A lot of them revolving around American Sign Language specifically, and a lot of them focussing on Deaf Education. I wasn’t sure which route I wanted to take. I loved the language, but I also wanted a rich education in the culture and community. I also have my reservations about the educational system, so I wasn’t entirely certain I wanted to be a teacher. During spring break of that year, my Dad, sister and I set out to visit a number of schools up north. My Mom called us from home the day before we were due to visit Boston University and was ecstatic to tell us about the program that BU has. She sent me weblinks and told me all about what she had read. That’s it, I thought, this is what I’ve been searching for. There couldn’t have been a program better fitting my desires. We were able to set up a meeting with the Director of Student Services for the School of Education to hear all about the program and the opportunities I would have. From that day forward I had my heart set on Boston University. I went to every local open house and even made it up to Boston for some open houses. I filled out and submitted the application the second it became available.

On December 14, 2012, I was sitting at a computer in technology class and decided to check on my BU decision for the hundredth time that week seeing as decisions were due to come out by December 15th. I opened up the website, logged in, and immediately saw the word “Congratulations!” I gasped while tears filled my eyes. There is no feeling in the world that compared to that feeling. I ran to my teacher and exasperatedly told him that I was accepted to my dream school and I was going to call my Mom. My Mom was expecting a call, so the phone hardly rang once before she answered, “What??!!” I sobbed in the phone until I was able to muster up the words “I’m going to BU!!!!!”

My two years so far here at Boston University in the Deaf Studies program have been nothing less than my expectations. While we’re always trying to expand the program and spread the word, I do have to say that it’s quite nice having the little family that we do. My favorite experience thus far in the Deaf Studies program took place in the Introduction to the Deaf World class taught by Professor Bucci. Our final project was to come up with an idea that we “think would reduce ignorance and promote positive awareness and the dispelling of myths or negative attitudes toward Deaf people who use ASL/celebrate the Deaf World” (DE500 Syllabus, Bucci). A hefty task to say the least, but how cool was it that I now had an assignment revolving around the entire reason that I became interested in this major. My idea was to essentially have a “Deaf caravan” that would travel around the country and do crash course presentations to grade school students about Deaf people and their amazing culture and community. I created a website to display all of the information about this imaginary company. This project was so important to me because it allowed me to see just how tangible my ideas can be. If I want to pursue this idea after college, a bulk of the work has already been done. For more information on my project, here is the aforementioned website:

Speaking of the future, I might be one of the few to say this, but I’m ecstatic, not nervous. I cannot wait for what my future holds. That’s not to say that I’m not enjoying the present and taking in all the opportunities that I have right now, but knowing my passion early on in life has been an incredible blessing. I’m constantly asked what I want to do with my major as a career and the thing about the Deaf Studies major is that it’s very specifically broad. It puts me in a specific career field, but one with an immense amount of options. Additionally, I have a minor in Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences in Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. This minor opens up even more options for me. Right now, I am leaning towards opening up a Speech Therapy practice with a philosophy on bilingualism between spoken English and American Sign Language. What’s important to me when it comes to whether or not to implant a Deaf child is that regardless of implantation or not, the child grows up knowing that he or she is Deaf and knows of the culture, community and language that they have at their disposal. When I interned in an elementary school during high school, I worked with a boy in third grade who was implanted and being taught ASL and given access to an interpreter, while he was also being given speech therapy. I really appreciated this approach because this allows the boy to choose which path works best for him when he is a bit older. Yes, there are flaws in this approach as there are in every approach to this matter, but I think of all the options, this one has the most pros over cons.

So that’s my story in a nutshell. I found my passion early, dreamt about it, now I’m learning about it, and soon I’ll be living it! I’m thankful every single day for all of the opportunities I’ve been given and the life I’ve been blessed with. Thanks for reading!

Talia Cowen is a junior in the School of Education, majoring in Deaf Studies

Take Me Back to the Land Down Under

By Jessica Schmidt, SED 2015

After I made the 22-hour flight from Sydney back to my hometown last winter and I will openly admit that the culture shock I experienced upon arriving was rough. Instead of focusing on how to adjust back to the cold and the snow, I couldn’t help but relive my time in Sydney, Australia where the people are chipper and sun-kissed, and everything is made prettier by beaches and endearing accents.

I was lucky enough to take my student teaching practicum to the other side of the world and delve into a new, breathtaking culture that is packed with adventure and free spirits. The country as a whole has a population that is approximately the same as that of New York City, around 23 million people. With fewer people, comes more animals. Australia is home to many of the world’s most dangerous animals—don’t worry, I made it back alive with minimal scrapes and bruises.

I came to know the country’s natives (both people and animals) quite well, traveling around the continent and into others. However, the age of the people I got to know the best averaged around 10 years old. I spent every day in an all boy’s school, teaching a class of 25 fifth graders. To some, this may seem like I spent precious beach time managing hormonal troublemakers, but for me, the situation could not have been more worthwhile.

Student teaching in another country sounds intimidating. Add on the fact that the students being instructed are fifth grade boys with adorable accents and preppy school uniforms and you’re practically begging for a panic-stricken deer-in the headlights reaction. However, the opposite happened when I walked into 5L on the first day of September 2014. I had twenty-five boys who were obsessed with my accent and who wanted to know which celebrities I have met (they weren’t too impressed with my meeting of Zac Efron, which would have gone over much better at an all girls school). I spent four days camping in the Aussie wilderness with my class on the second week of school and learned just how scary it is to have a wombat try to get into your tent in the middle of the night. In no time, I was viewed as the cool American teacher who needed to learn as much Aussie slang as possible.

I couldn’t believe how quickly I was accepted into the culture of the school, let alone that of the country. I was able to integrate myself into a large faculty and feel like an important member of the team: participating in professional development and staff meetings, comparing intervention programs used in Boston to those in Sydney, and designing unit plans to be used across all fifth grade classrooms in the building. I was able to foster bonds with my students that continue today through email and hopefully was able to teach them one or two things that stuck.

More than anything, I learned that being on the other side of the world does not mean everything is upside down and backwards. People in Australia are living very similarly to those in Boston. We have remarkably similar successes and histories, as well as struggles. Unfortunately, many people are so focused on the differences in cultures, that there is not enough emphasis on the similarities. By exposing students and teachers around the world to cultures other than their own and focusing on how we are all similar, there is hope for greater cross-cultural unity and acceptance in the future. Traveling nearly 10,000 miles away from home taught me that the world is smaller than I ever realized.

Jessica Schmidt is a 2015 graduate of the School of Education with a degree in Elementary and Special Education


By Sarah White, SED 2016

This past winter, I applied to a variety of summer jobs focused on teaching or tutoring in summer schools. Through this process, I encountered the same question time and time again: Why are you fit to mentor students through this program?

Thinking about this question made me realize: I aspire to be a mentor for others because I have had so many wonderful mentors myself, and it is their very mentoring styles that have shaped my mentoring abilities.

My father taught me how to read when I was about 3 years old. He continuously said to me, “You know, Sar, if you can read, you can do anything.” Those words have since become my life motto. I can do anything. And equipped with the right tools, so can anyone else, and that idea now guides my teaching philosophy. My students have the potential to do anything. I just have to support them on their way there.

As time has progressed, my teachers became my academic mentors. From elementary school through college, my teachers have pushed me to develop my passions, to work a little harder, to look beyond what has been merely presented to me, and to dig a little deeper. They have guided me to discover the endless opportunities. Knowing how it feels to receive this endless stream of encouragement from my teachers has instilled in me the need to believe in my students to their highest potential.

During field placements through BU, I have watched some amazing lessons, gathered great ideas, and even taught some class periods alone. Many of my cooperating teachers have given me their email addresses to contact them after my field placement has ended in case I need any help. Their willingness to share their talents with me have only inspired me to try a little harder so that I, too, can do the same in the future.

From my peers, I have learned to be ever inquisitive and hard-working. As they take on more leadership roles, they encourage me to do the same. They share with me their challenges, their successes, and a listening ear when I need one. Since they understand what it means to be a college student, I find it so easy to relate with them, reminding me of the importance of understanding your students.

Perhaps most important, I continue to learn from my students. Previously, I wrote a blog post about a lesson I learned last year from a boy I tutor at 826 Boston. His words along with sentiments from other students continue to have an effect on me long past when I work with them.

I believe that it is through my great mentors that I have learned what it means to mentor and to mentor well. Suddenly, I have a working teaching philosophy and guiding principles for my future classroom. It didn’t happen overnight, and I couldn’t have done it alone. But, influence of my mentors continues to impact me every day. My greatest hope is to become these voices for future generations. I want to push, to encourage, and to inspire students to believe in themselves the way others have done for me.

And so now I ask you: Why are you a mentor?

Sarah White is a senior in the School of Education, majoring in English Education

Celebrities of a Community

By Jan-Lois Burroughs, SED 2015

Ellen Degeneres.

The Kardashians.

Tom Brady.

One Direction.

Barack Obama.

While these names are recognizable to many nationwide, teachers too have the power to be just as noteworthy in someone’s life.

Teachers are celebrities of a community. We mentor, we care, we educate, we connect, we influence, and we empower. Parents, guardians, and students alike entrust us with these responsibilities. With this, we are always under the close observation of society. Just like celebrities from the athletic or entertainment industries, we too develop a reputation that can take years to build, but can take seconds to change completely.

There is something so, so intriguing about a celebrity’s personal life, whether you want to know it or not. I can read about Justin Bieber’s run-ins with the law, or make guesses about the reasonings behind Zayn’s recent departure from One Direction, and comment about Taylor Swift’s dating life. We know celebrities’ professional work: we recognize their music, their scores, their companies and positions, their awards, and yet, we are fine with knowing so much more.

People’s skills and abilities can lead us to place them on a pedestal. They become “robotic” and “godly” – untouchable. This is natural. Yet, we are interested when we hear about what they do outside their professions; what else they’re passionate about. We find ways to make them seem more human.

This applies to teachers too. We are familiar with stating how “good” or “bad” a teacher is in the classroom, but there is a tendency to be interested in knowing seemingly minor facts such the teacher’s age, a significant other, what he or she was like as a student, or better yet, anything we find if we were to ever encounter a teacher’s social media profiles.

Simultaneously being both a college student and a student-teacher has revealed to me the connections between being a celebrity and a teacher. As I take notes, I sometimes randomly wonder what my professors must do once the class is over. As I teach, I sometimes face a barrage of similarly personal questions from my own students.

We need to be aware of this power.

My second grade teacher told us that she was cousins with my gym teacher.

My Algebra 2 teacher told us that she auditioned for “The Amazing Race.”

My fifth grade teacher told us that she had a crush on Legolas from “Lord of the Rings.”

My chemistry teacher told us about the pranks he played on his friends at college.

Many teachers told us about their kids or the sports teams they liked.

The content learned in these classes has (mostly) stuck with me today, and yet oddly enough, so have these personal facts about these teachers.

One of my high school teachers told me about her struggle with depression when she was younger.

One of my math teachers has a same-sex partner.

Another teacher told me about her frustrations with school administration.

In some communities, personal facts such as these can be used to even further connect with certain students. In other locations, knowledge of these facts can lead to backlash. Especially, with the advance of social media in the last decade alone, both our professional and personal lives are under the microscope more than ever before.

Our responsibilities as teachers are great, but our status is even greater. I want my kids to know that I care about them as lifelong learners and human beings, but I also want them to know how I too am a dork who loves dancing and traveling and has overcome challenges of his own. Many celebrities work hard to separate the professional from the personal, but for us, our professional requires the personal. In our aims to mentor, care, educate, connect, influence, and empower others, teachers must demonstrate that we too are human. This the fine line we must walk on, a line we are entrusted to stay on, a line we need to know exists.

Jan-Lois Burroughs is a 2015 graduate of the School of Education with a degree in Mathematics Education