I was terrified to step into my teaching interview, to say the least. I knew over 40 teachers had applied for the same teaching position for which I was being interviewed. Stepping into the superintendent’s office, I clutched my teaching portfolio with sweaty palms, nervous, but ready to utilize the education degree I had earned. In the next twenty minutes, the superintendent poured over my portfolio, flipping through page after page of the lessons, units, classroom management designs, and course skeletons I had meticulously created for my education courses. Finally, he closed the portfolio, looked up, and said, “This is the best portfolio I’ve seen in four years.” I couldn’t help but praise the dedicated teaching staff of the History and Education Departments in the Petree College of Arts and Sciences for preparing me for not only the interview, but for my profession.
I am proud to say I got the job and am now halfway through my first year of teaching at Glencoe High School. I have passed all my teaching evaluations with top scores and I am confident that my teaching methods will produce favorable test scores at the end of the year. If not for the individualized education I received as an education major at OCU, I would not be where I am today. The OCU Teacher Education Program definitely put me ahead of the race.
Thank you, OCU!
2008 Social Studies/Education Graduate
Social Studies Teacher
Glencoe High School
There have been moments when I find myself overly frustrated with the students and with myself.
I had been working with a group of kindergarteners who needed some extra help with learning their numbers. There were only three months left in the school year and they still didn’t know what the numbers seven and higher look like. It was hard for me when I would go over number nine again and again and they still didn’t recognize it. I found myself getting discouraged.
After taking a step back and talking to other teachers about this issue, I was able to get a new perspective … I needed to be patient.
Now, I’m doing what I can. I’m teaching the numbers in as many creative and different ways as possible. In just a couple of days I’ve seen improvement; it was small, but it was improvement. This brought my spirits back up and I keep remembering to be persistent, change my teaching style to fit all types of learners, and always make learning fun.
I just needed to step back and remind myself of these important aspects of teaching.
2010 Early Childhood Education Graduate
Fort Collins, CO
The best advice I got as a new teacher came from the OCU classroom. My professor told the class to "pick your battles and win them." It was a short piece of advice that I'm sure half of the class didn't even hear. I didn’t understood what she meant until I actually became a teacher and to this day when something happens in my classroom, I always ask myself, is this really worth fighting over?
During my first year teaching, I had a student named Alan. On the first day of school, he and his friends were caught ditching class. They were a group of boys all the teachers knew were headed down the gang-life path. They didn't like school and they sure didn't want to be there.
Of all the boys, Alan had the highest test scores and we tried something bold. We moved him into the honors class rotation. At first, he was uncomfortable and often opted to sit by himself; he didn’t participate in class discussions. One day, I asked a challenging question of my Algebra kids and to my surprise, Alan was the only one who got the solution. I was shocked, but it seemed effortless for him. From then on, I encouraged Alan every day to answer a few questions and eventually got him working with a group of students. Soon, he asked to stay in during lunch with me so he could make up his failing grade in my class. After spending lunch after lunch together, I really got to know Alan. We talked endlessly about soccer, his family back in California, and how he did not want to be part of his "gang" life.
During second semester, I saw a whole new side of Alan. He volunteered in class, led class discussions, and even became the class "funny guy." At the end of the year, Alan got the Honors Algebra Award. He not only had the highest average in all of my classes combined but he also went on to pass the Algebra I End of Instruction test with one of the highest scores.
On the last day of school, I made a deal with Alan for his freshman year in high school. We wrote a contract that said if he got perfect attendance his freshman year, I would pay him $100 in cash. Needless to say, on the last day of school, he came back and demanded his money.
From Alan, I learned that you can't judge a book by its cover and sometimes some encouragement is all a student needs to succeed … and maybe a shove in the right direction. Alan wasn't doing very well in his other classes and some of the teachers wanted him out of their honors classes. They were done with him thinking that he was destined for the "gang life" but little did they know, Alan wanted out and all it took was for someone to believe that he could do it. Today, Alan is taking advanced math classes and hopes to take the Calculus I & II AP test so he can get college credit while in high school. This summer, Alan applied for an engineering program out of state and I have all my fingers crossed that he will get in.
2009 Mathematics/Education Graduate
Middle School Mathematics Teacher
Taft Middle School
Oklahoma City Public Schools
**Student name has been changed.
The success that I have had upon in my first two years of teaching has been possible due to the education I received from the OCU Teacher Education Program. My professors taught me that it is not only the curriculum I will be teaching my students but also other life principles. I was encouraged to reach my students through relationship building and by developing mutual trust while making every lesson rigorous and relevant.
Lindsey Williams Cofer
2010 Elementary Education Graduate
2nd Grade Teacher
Tulakes Elementary School
Putnam City School District, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
I told my kids in class today, "Your Call of Duty scores will not get you into college. Your Call of Duty scores will not get you an awesome job. All your Call of Duty scores will get you is bragging rights with a bunch of people you shouldn't be trying to impress, because they are the kind of people who sit around playing Call of Duty all day. Now, a well-worded essay, on the other hand ..."
2010 Elementary Education Graduate
Middle School Language Arts Teacher
Claremore Public Schools
OCU prepared me to teach by fostering my creativity, encouraging my love of content, and nurturing my desire to help others, especially children. When I graduated, I felt equipped to enter any school building in the country and teach, whether that school was well-supplied with teaching materials or just an empty one-room schoolhouse. To this day, I don’t need a math textbook or other commercial material to teach effectively. I am able to create and modify lessons that engage and meet individual learner needs each day. I credit my award-winning teaching abilities to the preparation I received at OCU.
OCU 1990’s Graduate/Supporter of OCU Teacher Education Program
Taft Middle School
Oklahoma City Public Schools
2010 Oklahoma State Teacher of the Year
Feeling called to be a teacher can be challenging. As an education major I went through many thought processes, wondering: What to teach? Why teach? Whom to teach? Where to teach?
I cannot say that I found all of those answers in my 4 years at OCU. But I can say that my experience at OCU—being mentored by the education department, challenged by the high expectations, and encouraged to follow my personal passions—has equipped me to continue to find those answers for myself, so that I may be the best teacher, community participant, and person I can be.
After graduating from OCU, I taught 1st grade at Tulakes Elementary in the Putnam City School District. I was overwhelmed with the needs of the students and at the same time empowered to do all I could to meet those needs.
Juan was one of those students. He had a unique circumstance of needs and required the most from me. He frustrated me the most, challenged me the most, pushed me the most, and kept me coming back every day with a new plan or strategy on how, together, we could make this day a successful one. I was able to work with him to identify some of his needs and effective ways for him to figure out how to get those needs met. The empathy I felt for Juan, the commitment I took on to help him be as successful as possible every day, and the compassion I continue to feel for this child and his future are why I know I must teach.
At OCU, I was taught those values of empathy, commitment, and professionalism. Most of all, I was taught to do what was right and to do the very best job I could (pretty simple, but sometimes VERY challenging). I know that I am capable of making each student successful. I know that I am capable of creating a classroom community that values and respects each student and teaches each one to do the same outside of the classroom. I know I am capable of impacting the world and changing it for the better.
Currently I am in Minneapolis in an Intentional Community, the House of Hospitality. I live with three other people and we work to share all of our resources from money and food, to the personal gifts we bring to the community. We offer hospitality to others in the form of friendship, food, conversation, and a spare bedroom. While I am not leading a classroom today, I am learning a great deal about humanity and how to be a progressive, effective, and loving human. I am getting my Minnesota teaching license and cannot wait to be back in a classroom where I will share my knowledge and value of community.
I developed these values at OCU and continue to embrace them every day.
2010 Early Childhood/Elementary Education Graduate
House of Hospitality
2010 DaVinci Scholar, DaVinci Institute, Oklahoma’s Creativity Think Tank
In my preschool class I was able to use many of the teaching methods I learned while at OCU. The school I worked for had not previously used hands-on science experiments in the classroom so I was able to create lessons and share these ideas with my fellow teachers. I created these lessons based on what I learned during my inquiry based science methods course. It was exciting to see my students enjoy learning so much!
2011 Early Childhood Education Graduate
Preparing to teach in Southeast Asia