Can you tell us about yourself?
"Hi, my name is Emily Ferguson. I am a student teacher at Northwest middle school that is in the Redding school district in Redding, Pennsylvania. And I have been here for four weeks. I'm doing this for my students."
Why did you start a career in education?
"So I picked a career in education because I have, I've always loved to teach. After my freshman year in college, I worked in a preschool during the summer. I fell head over heels in love with teaching and declared as my major. As soon as I came back from my sophomore year. I've also taught horseback riding. I did that the following summer. So my sophomore year, summer after sophomore year. And I don't think even more, I ended up falling in love with teaching even more. Um, I love helping kids reach their goals and help them get that aha moment or just pushing them further to, to places where they haven't been pushed before and then they realize, Oh wow, I can do that. I can be challenged. So that's my favorite part."
If you could have any other job what would it be and why?
"So if I could have any other job besides teaching, which is a really difficult question actually, it's to, so in another life I would love to train and compete horses in the big show circuits compete in the Olympics. That that's my dream since I was a kid. But I've also considered going back to school after I graduated. Of course I would like to go back to school and get a master's in counseling as well as a doctorate in psychology, sorry, psychiatry. And I want to work with children or adolescents who struggle with their mental health. And even with that, I want to stay in education setting. So whether that's teaching horseback riding lessons or working with the school as a counselor, that's something I'm hoping to do. And I'm hoping to be able to do a little bit of both, whether I teach what background lessons on the side or whether I just, you know, if I ended up staying a teacher or if I end up becoming a psychiatrist, um, I would still like to continue to teach and continue to learn and help help those kids."
How are kids different now than 30 years ago?
"So it's different now than 30 years ago. So kids are a lot more technically focused, which is good. Overall technology has had a very positive impact. It's helped create accommodations for students. You may need it among other things. Kids are also, in my opinion, more influenced by today's events. So violence in schools has become a bigger, scarier issue over time from Columbine to Parkland. Unfortunately, kids are also struggling more mentally and emotionally. Uh, one in five kids report having some kind of psychological concern, anxiety, depression, things like that. And that's just what's reported. You know, the numbers are a lot higher because I'll have the goes on, reported a kid, struggled directly their emotions through the pressure that school, home and society put on them. The good news is that we can support these kids now that we know how, so kids are different, but that's not a bad thing. You know, every day, every generation is different. So that's, that's the best part. So they may be different, but we're all contributing in our own way."
How is teaching different now than 30 years ago?
"So how is teaching different now than 30 years ago? So from what I've seen, teaching is a lot more regulated with the addition of testing and standards. However, it's a lot more inclusive, differentiated. So that means that everybody can get the chance at an equal comprehensive education. Teachers have always tried to make a difference, but with social media it's, it's easier to see their impact and share ideas. So lessons are creative and innovative and sites like teachers pay teachers and Pinterest help inspire other teachers, including myself."
What would you tell someone who wants to become a teacher?
"If I could give advice to someone considering teaching or thinking about becoming a teacher, I would say do it, absolutely do it, but also get a lot of experience to make sure it's for you. Take every opportunity. So if there's a free conference in Minnesota, do it. If you get an opportunity to teach STEM lessons to fourth graders on a random Wednesday night, do it. Those are two opportunities that I ended up taking. And it's only furthered my love for education, but my ability as an educator for what's happening and a lot more confident in the, in the case of a STEM lessons, I became more confident in my practice. And in the case of the conference in Minnesota, I learned even more about the teaching profession that I didn't know. So I would also say to observe as many teachers as you can. I did, I observed all of my old classroom teachers and I asked them, so one of the questions, you were very patient with me and that helped me realize that yes, this is what I want to do. And it made me feel a lot more confident about teaching. So this child is before really emotionally and physically exhausting but is so worth it if it's for you do it."
What is one thing you would change to help kids learn better?
"And finally, what is one thing you change to help kids learn better? How to the class size and smaller groups. And I know that's a common one, but I feel like one on one work is really, really good. Kids benefit so much from it. And it makes teaching a little more manageable and also say more outside time and hands on learning. But that's just the science teacher. I mean, you know, I like working with, um, everything nature has to offer and just really getting kids that fresh air. It really, really helps overall with their health. So that's what I would say. And that's it."