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By Rebekah Forsey, SED 2016

IMG_2630“We’re moving.”
Crushed. Confused. Upset. Angry.
They’re kidding. They must be. There’s no way this is real.
“We’re serious. We’re moving to New Hampshire.”
Ugh, New Hampshire stinks. I hate it there, well, I haven’t been there. But I’m sure it stinks. There’s no way I’m going. I’ll buy the house from them. I can’t afford that. Maybe it won’t work. I can talk them out of this.

The day my parents told me that they were selling my childhood house all I could think was that my home was being taken away from me. All of my memories were there, all of my dreams began there, and all of my realities were created there. This cannot be happening. My parents were as nice and supportive as they could be about the situation, but they were offered jobs in New Hampshire and they were going to take them. There were great opportunities waiting for them, and they couldn’t possibly turn it down.

But I’m losing my home. What about what this does to me?

This wasn’t the first time that I had felt like I was losing my home. When I first came to Boston University, I was convinced that no place would ever feel as much like home as my childhood house. Growing up I was very lucky; I never had to try to find a place where I felt at home. My neighbors and I were a family. The only effort I had to put in was showing up outside every day after school to play; the rest just worked itself out. Thus, in another way, growing up I was very unlucky. I never had to make a place feel like home. While I did not have any experience making a place feel like home, within a few weeks of being at BU, I realized that I already felt at home and that these “strangers” had somehow become my family. I guess I could do that again. Maybe it’ll all work out. It’s worked before.

Through my transition to college, it became very clear that “home” is less about the physical place and more about the people with whom you share it.

When I graduate, BU will still be my home because of the memories I have created here and the people that I met here who changed my life forever. The same is true of my childhood home. Just because I can no longer physically live there, it will always be home.

I’m one of the lucky ones, I get to have two homes. And maybe, if I’m lucky, New Hampshire will become my third home. Because now I know that I can create a home wherever I go.

Rebekah Forsey is a junior in the School of Education, majoring in Elementary and Bilingual Education

The Best Place to Be in SED: Pickering Educational Resources Library

By Amanda Dolce, SED 2016

pickering libraryThinking of becoming a Terrier in the School of Education? Let me give you an insider tip: the Pickering Educational Resources Library is the place to be! Now before you go rolling your eyes or clicking the “back” button, give me chance to explain. The Pickering Educational Resources Library (PERL), or just “Pickering “as students affectionately call it, is the School of Education’s official library. With the entrance tucked into the corner next to the Silber Way doors of SED, PERL is a hidden gem for the rest of Boston University but is an indispensible resource for the students enrolled in SED.

First things first, PERL is not your average library. Yes, there are books…. a lot of books. However, it’s the types of books that are shelved there that make it unique. The different sections of the libraries act like a walk-through timeline of your life. Lining the walls are pictures books, including all the classics (Green Eggs and Ham anyone?) as well as important modern works such as And Tango Makes Three, a story of a nontraditional family of penguins that has received a lot of attention. For early childhood and elementary education majors, these books are used for a variety of purposes such as lesson planning or writing a paper on the cultural biases young children are exposed to. But no matter your major, feel free to just grab some to read and unwind! We won’t judge, we have all done it.

Other shelves house chapter books for middle school and high school students. Want to read the Divergent series before the next movie comes out? We got it! In addition to indulging your own reading interests, the collection of juvenile and young adult books cover an expansive range of topics, levels, and genres. Moreover, PERL has many teacher’s manuals, instructional guides, and textbooks typically found in schools. As a student in the School of Education, you will have frequent opportunities to make use of this goldmine of books as you plan lessons and complete assignments with the authentic and relevant guiding question of “how would I use this in my classroom?” The collection serves the multiple identities that education students have: a blend of both student and teacher.

I could go on and on about the books you can find in PERL but the discovery is half the fun so I won’t rob you of that. What I will do, however, is share some useful tips and tricks:

1) FREE COFFEE! Yup, you read that right. PERL has free Keurig coffee for its students. Just bring a mug or travel cup and you are all set for free caffeine!

2) Textbooks on reserve. Many professors will send copies of their textbooks to PERL to be used in the library. Some students use these copies instead of buying their own.

3) Computers, scanners, printers. PERL has the technology you need to complete assignments.

4) Comfy chairs and quite spaces. PERL is a great place to get work done. When that deadline is approaching, the atmosphere of PERL is ideal for focusing.

Come check it out for yourself!

To find out more about the School of Education’s Pickering Educational Resources Library visit: bu.edu/library/pickering-educational/

Amanda Dolce is a junior in the School of Education, majoring in Elementary and Special Education

Interacting with Professors

By Carina Traub, SED 2016

Before I came to college, I was nervous about how to interact with professors. My cousin told me to “go to office hours,” but I didn’t even know what those were, let alone how to go to them. I worked with Professor Scott Seider to compile some recommendations on how to make the most out of your interactions with professors. Because this is the School of Education, I have a mnemonic device for you: Professionalism, Punctuality, Preparedness, Plus some other stuff. Let’s do this!

Professionalism

  • Adjust your register so you’re speaking professionally (don’t say “like” every three words).
  • Don’t text during class!
  • When you email, use a salutation (“Dear Professor X”), capitalize, and punctuate. Remember, this is not the same email you would write to your friend.
  • Have good posture in class. Be attentive and sit up straight.
  • Dress appropriately for class (Professor Seider says you can even dress up. Show you’re serious by donning your teacher best).

Punctuality

  • Regardless of situation (class, meeting, office hours), be on time!
  • If you need an extension on an assignment, make sure to discuss options with your professor before the assignment is due.
  • Professor Seider does not want to see you walk in late holding a coffee cup, as that demonstrates that you consciously decided to be late in order to get coffee.
  • However, if you are late, enter the class quietly and don’t walk in front of the speaker.

Preparedness

  • Know your questions or what you need help with in advance.
  • Bring all necessary books/notes/paperwork to class, office hours, or meetings.
  • Make sure you have put in effort to try to answer your own question (if you haven’t been keeping up with the reading, maybe check the book before asking an easily answered question).
  • Professor Seider reminds you to read for class.

Plus Some Other Stuff

  • Write a thank you note if someone writes you a recommendation.
  • Professor Seider recommends that when you get an assignment back, you should wait until after class to flip through it.
  • He also advises you to wait twenty-four hours before raising questions about a grade in order to demonstrate that you have thought about it.
  • If you email a professor in the middle of the night, do not expect an answer right away.
  • Let professors know when you are not going to be in class.
  • It’s good to ask questions in class!
  • It’s good to come to office hours and ask questions!

Hopefully this helps you in your interactions with professors. Remember, professors love their content and love helping students, so engaging with them will be beneficial to both of you. Best of luck!

Carina Traub is a junior in the School of Education majoring in English Education, English, and English as a Second Language. She would like to thank Professor Scott Seider for all of his assistance.

A Vibrant and Emerging Industry: Ed Tech

By Joseph A. Doiron

Constant, rapid technological change has become the new normal. Increasingly, new technologies are introduced into the marketplace, reach a dizzying scale at a dizzying pace, and sometimes revolutionize, create, or kill entire industries. Look no further than the recent meteoric rise of Uber and the disruptions it’s causing in the transportation industry. Over the course of its five-year history Uber has quadrupled its sales year-over year, expanded to markets around the globe, infuriated existing transportation companies, and forced changes in local livery service regulations all along its way to a staggering $18 billion (US) valuation in 2015.

While other industries have been significantly disrupted by technology, education really hasn’t. To be clear, instructional technologies have most certainly made their way into classrooms. Web-based assessments, online resources, games, and many other technology tools and programs are used daily by teachers and students to enhance instruction, facilitate processes, and increase engagement, but these products and services haven’t fundamentally altered the way that we educate.

Ed Tech has become a vibrant and emerging industry that attracts significant human and investor capital. Education specific startup incubators, programs and organizations that help support entrepreneurs and their new startups with capital and other resources, are popping up all around the world**. California, New York, Massachusetts, and Colorado have become “ed tech hubs” in the United States, and countries such as Colombia and the UK are following suit internationally. According to investment data from CB Insights, investors pumped close to $3.04 billion (US) into new educational technology companies in 2014, a year-over-year increase in investment of 31.88%. While some critical voices cast doubt on whether such levels of growth are sustainable, most agree that continued growth looks likely.

Not every ed tech startup will bring about a revolution, but those that are focusing on automation, personalization, and hybridization just might. Many ed tech startups and established companies alike focus on solving small problems, exploit market demand that doesn’t require innovative technology, or are still trapped in the legacy of old systems, products, or technologies. However, the companies that are focused on creating next generation educational technologies are addressing problems related to: (1) automation of previously human intensive activities through teaching and learning assistive technologies that utilize, for example, natural language processing software that can automatically grade student essays for grammar and content; (2) technologies that customize or personalize learning experiences, such as programs that are driven by artificial intelligence and automatically recommend exercises and materials that are tailored to the specific needs of the learner based on past performances; and (3) technologies that help to maximize the flipped classroom or hybridized learning experiences.

Interest in ed tech has been largely because of its promise, not its present; however its present is beginning to look a lot more like what has been promised. If we look at the ways in which technologies are transforming other industries, the exponential increase in activity and investment in the ed tech industry, and note the ways in which startups and established companies alike are focusing on automating processes, personalizing learning, and optimizing hybridized learning environments, great change seems like it’s on the horizon.

As future educators who are entering the classroom during a period that could potentially be dominated by constant, rapid technological change, the words of American philosopher Eric Hoffer seem relevant: “In times of profound change, the learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” Make certain to remain a learner, because profound change seems to be coming.

Joseph A. Doiron is an Adjunct Instructor for the Emerging Technologies in Education course in the School of Education

* (http://money.cnn.com/2014/06/12/technology/innovation/uber-ceo-travis-kalanick/).

** https://www.edsurge.com/incubators

Coaching: It’s More Than Sports

By Griffin Monahan, SED 2016

What does an effective coach offer to his or her students and athletes? You might first reply with, “well the skills of the sport!” This is both obvious and true, but coaches can have an even greater impact. Coaches can provide positivity, confidence, and relaxation to students. The list of life skills that can be conveyed from coach to student is surprisingly rather long.

Who can benefit from the benefits of an effective coach? Everyone can! There are groups of students who can benefit the most from a purposeful coach. Students who have the greatest difficulty in school, academically, socially, whatever the issue may be, these students have much to gain. If traditional education is not meeting the needs of a student a caring coach might be able to rise to the occasion. Lou Bergholz of Edgework Consulting writes on the benefits that an encouraging coach or mentor can provide to a student, youth, or mentee. Stating, “play can serve as a natural and powerful promoter of learning and growth that provide manipulation and facilitates mastery, self worth, and the development of basic competencies – including social competencies.[1]” Well directed play and activities can provide students what traditional education may fail to provide.

Albert Petitpas, a professor of psychology at Springfield College, reiterates this point by covering the many opportunities provided by sports participation. He states, “It would be naıve to suggest that by simply participating in sports, young people will acquire the skills necessary to succeed in life. Sport participation does provide, however, numerous opportunities for youth to learn about themselves, to form important relationships with peers and adult mentors, and to experience the benefits of setting goals and working hard to achieve them.[2]” An effective coach and active participation in sports can positively shape a youth in distress.

What’s the point? We as educators and future educators need to provide greater consideration into truly fulfilling the role of a coach. We need to seize any opportunity to mentor after school or coach a sports team when provided. Making a difference in students’ lives can often occur in the regular classroom but let us not forget of the many chances we have after school on the hardwood, at the track, or by the pool.

Griffin Monahan is a junior in the School of Education, majoring in History Education

[1] Bergholz, Lou “Playing to Heal: Designing a Trauma‐Sensitive Sport Program.” Edgework Consulting: 9
[2] Petitpas, Albert J., Judy L. Van Raalte, Allen E. Cornelius, and Jim Presbrey. “A Life Skills Development Program For High School Student-Athletes.” The Journal of Primary Prevention: 333.

A New Conversation

By Navraj Narula, SED 2016

Here at the School of Education (SED), we focus the majority of our conversations on teachers: how they should explain concepts to a diverse group of learners, how their passion for a subject should be coupled with their purpose for a lesson, and even how they should seek to present themselves in the way they act, speak, and dress.

I have been a committed student in SED for quite some time now. Of course, I believe that excellent teachers should be well-trained to know what it is that could make one outstanding; however, is this the only topic we should be talking about in our college?

You might expect me to say something like, “Let’s shift the focus on to our future students instead!” Not exactly, though. In my courses, I do find students to usually be the main star in lectures. This is absolutely a good thing.

However, I think we can still do better. My method for improvement is to start talking about the administration. You may ask — why? My answer is: the administration is powerful in a way that both teachers and students simply are not.

The administration makes the decision about what classes a student must take in order to graduate, what to discuss with its faculty during staff meetings, and any general business possibly involving funding, budget, and pay.

During my time here in college, I used to find it ever so difficult to approach the administration staff sometimes. I did not know why, but there just seemed to be some sort of irrational fear associated with speaking to someone in a higher position of authority than myself. By now, I have obviously gotten used to speaking with any staff within my school as well as other adults in general. However, I do think that it is still important to for both students—and especially future teachers like ourselves—to speak to administrators. Simply speak to them. That is all.

There is so much more that an educator can do if they are able to cooperate with the administration. I believe that teachers who bring up issues about how they are struggling in the classroom to a principal, inform the entire faculty of their plans to create a new class, or even work to have lunch with the people in the school environment they do not conventionally talk to will create a better learning experience for their students, but more importantly, for themselves.

Let’s start talking about something we haven’t.

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