Four Years Later: What Stands Out Looking Back

By Bonnie Tynes, SED 2016

Bonnie TynesAs a senior looking back on my last four years at BU, it’s very difficult to narrow down what made this time so impactful. The factors are endless- ranging from influential professors, to friends who have made me see the world in new ways, to the city of Boston itself.

During the summer of 2013, preceding my junior year, I had the opportunity to study abroad for six weeks in London. I chose a program through the College of Arts and Sciences, rather than the School of Education, and I pushed myself to go with no friends and live with three girls I had never met before. As someone who is intimated by change, these were all bold choices for me, but thus far in life those bold choices have worked out for the better (i.e. coming to BU in the first place!)  The six weeks were a whirlwind of traveling, class time, museum visits, picture taking, laughing, and so much more.

My study abroad experience wasn’t unique for these reasons though. What I really gained from my time in London was my best friend, Robin. Lucky for me, Robin is in the School of Education at BU, and ever since our six weeks abroad we have been inseparable. We have matched our class schedules, completed co-written 100-page unit plans, studied until all hours of the night, and spent an endless number of hours laughing at anything and everything.

While in London, Robin and I took classes in law, British Literature, and British arts and media. After two years studying education and education alone, this was both an exciting and intimidating opportunity for us. We found that it was thrilling to mix up our class schedules, and the British professors that BU chooses to teach classes abroad were surprising and knowledgeable in new ways. One day, our British Literature professor took us into a small town outside of central London to look at wall murals as inspiration for poetry. She whisked us around the crowded sidewalks as if we were small children, but she had a tendency to turn down streets and disappear in the blink of an eye. Towards the end of this “field trip”, she handed us some pounds, pushed us toward a bakery for fresh pastries, and disappeared waving, yelling, “Hope you all know how to find your way home!” We most certainly did not know how to find our way home, but it was adventures like these that made my study abroad experience so memorable.

I think Robin and I will look back fondly on those six weeks for the rest of our lives. I am thankful for the time we had to explore a new part of the world, and I am positive that Robin and I found each other through that experience for a reason. I think it’s extremely important to walk away from college with friends that not only made your four years great, but friends that made you great.

Bonnie is a senior in the School of Education, majoring in Special Education

Why Do I Do This?

By Kylee Manganiello, SED 2018

Kyleee

I’m a DREAM mentor. Seriously, I am. I’m a member of the Boston University chapter of DREAM, an inter-state, non-profit organization with a philosophy of village mentoring and youth empowerment. Every Saturday, for approximately two hours (though usually more), about 15 other college students and I get to hang out with a group of children from an affordable housing community in the Allston-Brighton area. Every Saturday, we’re tasked with the mission of providing these mentees with positive, constructive experiences that they also actually enjoy.

Needless to say, with a group of kids ranging in age from six to twelve, that’s no easy feat. To add to the headache that is planning and orchestrating activities (which we call programming), while DREAM has existed as a club at Boston University for a number of years now, this is our first year working with this particular community and their first year ever having DREAM. T

The last few months have been a slow process of acclimation as we have tried to get to know our new mentees and let them get know us. Each programming, behavioral issues and miscommunication have dominated and frustration levels have been high. Each programming has been cause for serious reevaluation, on all levels. And so, I’ve been asking myself, “Why do I do this?”

As a prospective mentor for DREAM, you go through an interview process, and the first question we always ask is the same question I’ve essentially been asking myself: “Why do you want to be a mentor?” Usually, the answer is somewhere along the lines of “I want to make a difference in a kid’s life.” While I don’t remember exactly what I said during my interview last year, it was probably something very similar. In trying to answer that question now, my response is a lot more complicated.

When someone claims that they want to “make a difference in a kid’s life,” there’s generally (but not always) an unspoken assumption that they want to be able to actually see that difference—to have tangible evidence that they, directly, have had a positive impact on the life of a child. It makes sense, and it was certainly true for me. The problem is, the reality of being a mentor is that there is absolutely no guarantee that you’ll ever be able to see that tangible shift you’re looking for. It is impossible for me to completely immerse myself in the lives of my mentees. The simple fact is, I cannot be around 24/7. There are going to be other people and experiences that shape their lives just as much, if not more, than I ever will.

Additionally, no matter how much I may want to, I cannot thwart the effects of society. I cannot shield mentees from racism, poverty, gender inequality, or religious intolerance. I can’t negate the impact that their socioeconomic status is going to have on their lives. Mentees, like all children, are going to experience life and grow and develop in their own way at their own pace.

I’ve realized that all that can do as a mentor, and what I should aspire to do, is be on their side. My goals as a mentor have become more specific, and much harder to live up to. I’ve made the conscious decision to care for my mentees unconditionally, to support them in all of their (reasonable) endeavors unreservedly, and to lighten their load whenever I can. Today, I’m secure in the knowledge that though I may not personally get to see the positive impact I’m having on a mentee, or even be solely responsible for that change, I’m contributing myself to making their positive growth that much more possible.

Kylee Manganiello is a sophomore in the School of Education, majoring in Social Studies Education

Teaching Through the Snow

By Rachel Hanson, SED 2016

Rachel HansonOne thing that is abundant is the School of Education is teacher observations. Between ED100 and Pre-Practicum, I have observed in at least a dozen teachers classes. I have seen US History, World History, Modern Conflict, Government, Psychology, and even some English classes. I have been able to watch teachers interact with students with IEP’s and 504’s. I have seen remedial though to AP classes. One thing that I learned from those experiences is that good teaching comes in many different forms. We have all seen practices that make us go “YES! That is how I want to be as a teacher”.

The spring semester of 2015 was recorded in history as the snowiest winter in Boston…ever. That spring also happened to be my Pre-Practicum. For my Pre-Practicum, I was placed in two Quincy Public Schools where my time was split between a middle school and a high school to observe as well as interact with the students and teacher. Due to all the snow, we had missed two or three visits since all the schools is Quincy had two weeks off because of the snow.

When we finally made it back in, it was a little hectic to say the least. Teachers were scrambling to catch up, students were antsy after being gone for so long, the administration didn’t expect us or forgot about us. All things that are to be expected when our city is drowning in six feet of snow. The head of the history department was trying to figure out where to send the four or five us who were there to watch social studies teachers. We wandered the halls a little, poking our heads into classrooms to find anyone to take us. I was given three classes with three different teachers to visit that day. The first two I observed were good, but visibly frazzled and the whole class was lecture-based. This was a teacher’s nightmare, two whole lost weeks with no sign of the snowpocalypse ending in the foreseeable future, so I accepted that as how one is supposed to teach after the very chaotic start they had to second semester.

I got mildly lost trying to locate my last class of the day, but when I finally found it, it seemed as if I was the only frantic one in the room. The teacher didn’t even seem phased by all the chaos happening in all the classes, halls and offices of the school. She handed out the rubric for their next project and proceeded to tell an antidote from a few years ago when a student built a life size catapult for his project and the rest of class was spent launching things across the schools field. The students were relaxed and so was the teacher.

Next she handed out novels to each student because there were going to read it as a start of their new unit. So for the rest of class they read aloud as a group, stopping to make note of any interesting or important characters or events. She stands out in my mind as the model teacher for how to act under pressure and how to incorporate other disciplines into her class. I never did make it back to her classroom, courtesy of all the snow, but I will be thinking of her class when I begin my student teaching this spring and am inevitably met with copious amounts of snow.

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

My First Teaching Experience

Erin Park, SED 2019

I’m not going to lie, I haven’t always wanted to be in education. It wasn’t until I was a sophomore in high school that I realized that education was something I was interested in. It all started when I really started falling in love with my volunteer work at a camp that works with people living with disabilities. My experiences at that camp influenced me to want to major in severe special education, and coming to Boston University has made me passionate about it.

Though my path towards education started early on in my high school years, my first official teaching experience was not until this past summer. I got to work as a kindergarten teacher at a summer school at my church, and it was one of the best experiences of my life. I have always loved children, especially kindergarten through second grade children, so I was very excited about my position.

Of course, I was incredibly nervous on my first day of teaching. First of all, I wasn’t even sure if I was cut out to be a teacher, and second of all, the thought of watching and teaching a bunch of rowdy five year olds was overwhelming, to say the least. Nonetheless, my first day in the classroom went better than I expected. My job as their teacher was to teach them the alphabet, how to spell words, and simple math, like counting. Though the learning content was not difficult, coming up with six weeks worth of lesson plans was something that I had never done before. At first, it was incredibly difficult for me to figure out what I should do for every day, but with time, the process got a little bit easier, and I started getting more creative with the lessons.

My first teaching experience taught me a lot about what it means to be a teacher and a lot about myself, as a future educator. For example, I always knew that coming up with lesson plans was not easy, so I’m glad that I was able to have this experience to prepare me for it in the future. I also learned that I do not have a good sense of time when I am teaching, so I now know to make sure to make a schedule of what will be done at what time.

As a freshman in the School of Education, I am so excited to get plugged into real classrooms soon and get even more training and insight on what it really is like to be a teacher. Though elementary education is not what I am majoring in, this teaching experience gave me a view of what it is that I could potentially be doing a few years from now, and I am more than excited to explore this amazing field that is education.

Erin Park is freshman in the School of Education, majoring in Special Education

Writing My BU Journey

By Katie Pond, SED 2017

IMG_3047I started a blog last September, marking the start of the semester I took off before transferring to Boston University. Going into that semester off, I was still unsure about whether I actually wanted to transfer. I wasn’t even sure that taking a leave of absence was the right choice, but maybe I just forgot that I had mono for weeks. I made the right decisions for myself, but at the time I felt like I was failing an essential part of my life by veering off the four-year path. I started my blog to vent about my situation and to feel connected while I was isolated.

On my blog, I wrote about everything: why I took leave instead of catching up later, how I both liked and disliked so much about my school, what it was like to work while my friends were at college, and why I was terrified of “giving up” and transferring. When you invite your entire friend list to read your thoughts, you tend to think through them a little more. Writing helped me organize my ideas and feelings, and I figured out what I really wanted from college.

I transferred to BU in January because it was a big school in cool city with great academics. I felt like BU attracted the kind of students I wanted to be around, and I was excited to start. However, transferring is no easy thing to do; it’s really hard to feel like a freshman for a second time. Making friends is hard. Transferring credits is hard. Then, on top of that, you still have to be a student. I was tired and lonely and constantly stressed, but as much as I wanted to quit, I also wanted to stay. Before, I was so confident about why BU was right for me, but those reasons weren’t necessarily keeping me here. There was something bigger about BU that made my gut tell me to stay even though I felt so worn down.

Of course, I took my confusion and I wrote about it. Through my writing, I noticed something. Even though I was stressed out a lot, I was never hung up on one thing for too long. I would write about a problem, but then I would write about how someone helped me solve it. When I randomly went home for a week due to stress, my professors were understanding and accommodating. When I was confused about my transfer credits, the Office of Student Services in SED actually reached out to me and helped me figure things out. When I was lonely, I got to go to class and have conversations that were far from awkward small talk with class friends. BU was fixing my problems, not causing them.

Writing helped me understand that I was right to choose BU, not because of its size or location, but because it’s where I’m comfortable. The only reason I sought help for anxiety was because I realized in my writing that I couldn’t blame my bad feelings on BU. As I said, transferring is hard. Transferring and finding out that you have anxiety is very hard. But through all of these things, I’ve always had and will continue to have someone in my corner at BU. I feel at home here—even when I’m not at my best—in a way that I simply never did at my old school. I feel at home because BU treats me like family. Yes, I belong at BU, whether or not I can perfectly describe why. Either way, writing somehow led me right where I needed to be.

Katie Pond is a junior in the School of Education, majoring in Math Education

10 Personal Favorite Places to Study – On and Off Campus

By Alisha Parikh, SED 2017

Alisha ParikhStudent Village 1, 26th Floor Study Lounge
33 Harry Agganis Way
I don’t usually study in quiet areas, more often coffee shop-like atmospheres. However, this study lounge on the 26th floor provides couches and tables in a quiet setting with a panoramic view – with views of the city of Boston, Nickerson Field, and the Charles River. I often come here when I need to be most productive or when I plan to study for a lengthier period of time. This study lounge is also extremely spacious, which contributes to an overall feeling of calmness. Since it is located in an on-campus housing facility, the hours are essentially 24/7 and you don’t need to necessarily live in StuVi to be able to study here!

Blue State Coffee
957 Commonwealth Avenue
This coffee shop is one of the places that I often go to study during finals. In addition to smaller, two-person tables, Blue State also has a larger table that allows you to spread out your work or that is conducive to studying with others. With a variety of different types of food and coffee, this location is a great place to grab a bite and some coffee while studying.

Pavement Coffeehouse
736 Commonwealth Avenue
Since my freshmen year, Pavement has been one my most commonly visited coffee shops. With a location in the middle portion of campus, it is easily accessible regardless of where on campus you may be. The coffee shop has tables and couch like chairs in the back section that make it easy to work on my own without distractions or with one or two other people. Though there is a variety of food and coffee, I usually stick to the Spanish Latte, which is a great choice if you have a sweet tooth!

Starbucks
874 Commonwealth Avenue
700 Commonwealth Avenue
595 Commonwealth Avenue
As a BU student, you almost immediately learn that there is a Starbucks in every portion of the Charles River campus. I enjoy studying in each of these locations, primarily because of the environment or ambiance. I am a Starbucks lover, and with my Grande Iced Caramel Macchiato and Banana Nut Bread in hand, I could spend a few hours studying in any of these Starbucks locations. Each one has a different feel and is in a different part of campus, so I never feel that it becomes too mundane.   

Howard Thurman Center
775 Commonwealth Avenue, Lower Level
This is another one of the quieter areas that I find myself working in when I need to get a lot done. Also centrally located, the Howard Thurman Center provides couches and a few tables for students to study. There is a great selection of teas if you are a tea lover! The Howard Thurman Center is one of the locations that is unique to Boston University and brings diverse students together through various events and discussions creating a ‘Common Ground.

PAL Study Lounge
771 Commonwealth Avenue, 3rd Floor
Though I have only been here a few times, I found myself being productive during those times that I was here. I almost never study in Mugar Library, but with a study lounge like this on the third floor that is much more conducive to group work or studying with a group of other students/friends, this is the one place I would study in were I to come to Mugar. The PAL study lounge is especially conducive to group work also because of the white boards that allow students to show their thoughts and work to other students and discuss ideas. 

Einstein Bros Bagels
725 Commonwealth Avenue
I come here for the iced coffee – Vanilla Hazelnut Latte – and whenever I do, I end up staying to get some work done. With an extremely convenient location within the College of Arts and Sciences, this is where I would come to study before, between, or right after my classes. I highly recommend Einstein’s for those breaks between classes as I often find myself in or near CAS. Of course the bagels are a must, and with such a variety it is easy to find something tailored toward your preferences.

Pickering Library in SED
2 Silber Way, Basement
As an Early Childhood Major and coffee lover, I obviously love and appreciate the fact that this is the only library on campus with picture books and one in which you can get free coffee (as long as you bring your own mug!). However, Pickering definitely has more to it than just picture books and free coffee. Tables and soft couch-like chairs offer comfortable places to work. Since I am in SED a lot of the time, Pickering is a convenient place to study if I do not want to walk anywhere too far. 

Bruegger’s Bagels
644 Beacon Street
As a coffee lover, I was surprised to learn that I love the taste of Bruegger’s Hot Chai Tea – perhaps because of how sweet it is. In addition to great bagels and chai tea, the employees are extremely friendly and recognize my face whenever I go here. Bruegger’s has booths, but also tables right near the window that are ideal for people watching as you study (which I am guilty of doing every time!). This place is one that I usually go to when I am stressed, tired, or just have had a long day – the people working there always find a way to bring a smile to my face as soon as I enter, and sitting by the window on a sunny day with my bagel and chai is a great way to wind down and relax.

Thinking Cup
85 Newbury Street
This is the one location that I absolutely love studying in that requires planning time for – though a quick trip on the T or ~20 minute walk. For this reason, I usually come here Saturday mornings and stay for a few hours. However, be sure to bring work that will not require Wifi – I am usually still quite productive working on essays or any reading that is not online. My favorites here are the French Hot Chocolate and an Almond Croissant. If you are new to Boston or unfamiliar with the Thinking Cup, this is a must!

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