Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Summer Challenge

Coming out of an intense finals week is considered a relief. No more papers, no more deadlines and so on. Surprisingly, it is the disappearance of all these tasks and obligations that prevents many students from fully enjoying their summer vacation. When structure in our lives disappears and we are left with open schedules and empty planners, it actually results in a whole lot of nothing, Netflix and Nutterbutters. How many times have you reached the end of a summer and thought "I didn't do a THING!" I am challenging you to do some brainstorming and have a fun, meaningful summer...one worth remembering! 
Here are some ideas to consider...

1) Help Someone Who Needs You
Every town/city is full of people in need. You might help serve meals at a homeless shelter or become a volunteer visitor at an assisted living facility. You can find these opportunities through your city's website or often through local religious organizations.

2. Set A Health Goal
If you are like me, by the end of finals week you probably haven't seen the gym in a while. Now that you have this extra time, set a personal health goal! Look for fitness or sports clubs in your area. Many offer student discounts. If running interests you, Fleet Feet offers wonderful, affordable running groups for all ability levels.  FF is located in most towns. Finally, if you don't feel like joining a group or club, visit Pinterest--->health, for some great ideas.

3. Learn a New Skill
We might think of summer as a time to shut off our brains, and we should all take a little time to do that, but this break is also an opportunity to explore interests outside of school. For example, if painting is something you've always wanted to try, Michael's craft store offers weekly painting lessons for a very affordable price. Most communities also have opportunities such as foreign language groups or meditation/discussion groups (e.g. Chico Dharma Center). 

4. Go to New Place 
Traveling makes us better, more open individuals. You don't need to travel to an expensive, tropical resort to get the benefits. Along the coast of California are beautiful little towns and beaches as well as many, many clean, highly-rated hostels. You can stay at these hostels for $25-30 each night. I personally recommend Pigeon Point Lighthouse Hostel which is located near Point Reyes. The hostel is on the edge of cliff and has a great hot tub that overlooks the ocean. Many travelers come through here and in a single night I had the opportunity to meet people from both Holland and Germany. Treat yourself to an enriching experience for a low cost.

These are just a few ideas for your summer! Make it fun and make it meaningful to yourself and to others!


Friday, May 16, 2014

Closing Thoughts as an Undergrad

Wow where has the time gone!

It seems like only yesterday I was watching my mom and grandma pull away after dropping me off at the dorms, my stomach slowly sinking as the feeling of impending doom crept upon me. I hated change and loved home, so living four hours away at college was one of the scariest things I had ever done. I felt that there was no way I was going to fit in here, no way I was going to find friend as great as the ones I had left at home, and no way I was going to succeed. Boy was I wrong.

Graduating in 3 years was something I used to just tell people I was going to do because that’s what my program entitled me to do. But low and behold, here I am a soon to be (sane) college graduate entering the credential program, who has had just about the best three years I could ever ask for. I would definitely have to attribute a heavy bulk of that to the Liberal Studies program and the ITEC program, for allowing me such amazing opportunities both in school and in the community. If anything, these past three years have reaffirmed that I am in the exact right major/career path for me.

This past year as a Peer Advisor in Liberal Studies has blessed me with many amazing opportunities to branch out and connect with other in my major. It also allowed me to meet other majors throughout the school and see what they have to offer, as well as show what we’re all about. I have been able to see the extent to which our major really excels and helps set people up for their future. My pride in Liberal Studies has grown exponentially, and I’ve loved taking the time to spread the word to not only other majors, but administrators, incoming freshman, and high schoolers as well. When I look back on my time here as an undergrad, my memories from my year as a PALS will definitely stand out from all the rest. 


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Parents and Commuting…the struggle

Commuting is not an easy thing. It puts a burden on you and how you can spend your time wisely. It can also affect your family. There can be some commuters out there who may have families who stress about you coming home and not staying in Chico too long. Maybe not all students who commute have parents like these, but I know I did. My parents would worry too much if I was going to come home or stay in Chico for the day. Sometimes I had to stay in Chico to get some extra studying in or go to group meetings. Having them stress would stress me out and make me leave and never really attend my study sessions or group meetings because I always tried to make my family happy. 

Sometimes you have to realize that your education is more important then always giving your parents what they want. Family is a huge part of our lives and they are the people in our lives who will always be there for us, but we have to realize that school comes first at times. Students who commute know that it is a hassle to get up and drive to school everyday. Sometimes you just want to leave school for the day and relax, but no, we have to drive home for about 30 minutes or more. 

One solution would be moving to Chico, but again there can be some parents who aren't very fond of the idea. Again, we have to do what is best for us and our education. We can get a lot more done if we just lived in Chico. We are able to take more classes and dedicate more time to our studies. Sure some people may not have trouble commuting and finding the time to study, but for some people it can be hard. I am not going to say move out! What I am trying to say is, find ways to make your life a lot easier. Sometimes we have to put our foot down and do what’s best for us. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Is Technology Taking Over?

Technology is something that has grown so much over the past few years. Have you noticed the difference from when we were in middle or elementary school? It was rare to see someone with a cell phone or an iPod/iPhone.  We lived in an era where we had to communicate face to face and over the phone. Kids today are exposed to so much technology. You see students today in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade that have cell phones, that have Facebook, that are constantly texting, and always on their video games. I remember when I was in 5th grade all I had was my soccer ball to play with and my Gameboy advanced. Kids today are being exposed to too much technology. Is this a problem? We have come to an understanding that the world is growing and we need to catch up and get use to it. What I’m trying to say is that, as future teachers do we think that technology will play a huge role in education these next 10 years? Will it play a positive role or negative role to our future students?

Students will most likely have access to a computer at all times. Technology is our future and our students will be living and breathing it. Mrs. Sandberg is a 3rd grade teacher at Wilson Elementary School in Gridley, California and she talks about how this year she was required to have her 3rd grade students take a standardized test on a computer. She said it was a whole new experience for her, since she has been teaching for over 20 years. She was personally frustrated, but she said her students were fine with it and worked it out pretty well. International Council ofCommunication Design is an educational website that gives news on our future schools and what to expect. In one particular article they talk about how everything will be developed at a digital level. There is no need for paper and in the next few years we may expect devices to become thinner and faster, to have higher definition images and videos, to support 3D features and holographic capabilities that simulate tangible objects. This means there will be more competition when it comes to job seeking. Everyone will be so advanced in technology that the work force will be seeking for only the best. Students will be expected to know and do a lot when in the work force.

Overall our country is growing and we have to catch up. Technology is taking over and we can't argue with that. Technology will change the education system and making our knowledge obsolete and quicker. As future teachers we have to start preparing now.

~Erick Garcia

Friday, April 25, 2014

“Those Who Can’t Do, Teach."

Most people are familiar with the saying, “Those who can’t do, teach.” Or as the famous Woody Allen once wrote; “Those who can’t do, teach. And those who can’t teach, teach gym”. This statement suggests that people who have failed or would be failures in the world outside of academia end up as teachers. This same statement is enough to make any future, current or retired teacher’s blood boil.

It is unclear to me where the origin of this saying has come from, but I did find some interesting facts that may have led to the discrediting of teachers over time.
In the Middle Ages, knowledge was viewed as God’s gift. Since it was God’s gift, it was seen as wrong to charge for it. Due to this view, teachers at many institutions were not paid at all for their work. They had to rely on the gifts and charity of appreciative students. Sometimes, a teacher was lucky to receive an apple so he’d have something to eat. As a result, it became difficult to develop a mindset that this profession was pursued by people of high capability if the services they were offering were free of charge.

I personally do not see the logic behind this statement. Teaching takes more than a bachelor’s degree, it takes the ability to implement an immense and broad amount of information and communicate it to a diverse group of young students. Teachers are the first step towards an occupation, towards any occupation that is deemed “superior” to that of an educator. One must (typically) complete both primary and secondary education before they can even continue on to the collegiate level, where they begin to mold their career path. And who guides them through all of these levels of schooling, through all of these confusing, information-loaded, hormone-driven years? Educators.

I recently asked a cooperating teacher I have been volunteering with her view on the matter. I asked her what her reaction would be to someone who truly believed “Those who can’t do, teach”. Her reply was simple and straightforward; “work one day in my classroom”. She works in a high school moderate/severe special education class, so some of the scenarios she deals with are on the extreme, but the message is still the same. Those who think handling a classroom of 25-30 children for 6 hours a day 5 days a week addressing the academic, social, and emotional needs of a highly diverse population should spend one day in our shoes. Teachers pursue their career because we are passionate about what we do, and we want to do it right. But doing it right also means doing it legally, and we must accommodate and please the never ending state and federal demands that are placed on education, mainly through the form of tests. So if you think you can easily motivate a child to take a lengthy test when they don’t see the point, nonetheless want to be in your classroom, please, be my guest.

-Lisa Schill

Male teachers, are you out there?

Is it just me or have you noticed that when you go to a school campus the majority of people who work there are women? It almost seems like a stereotype to say that you always see a woman as the teacher. As a student I’ve noticed myself that males in the teaching profession are the minority. It’s always been something that has interested me and why there are fewer male teachers in grades K-6.  Edudemic: connecting education and technology is a website that helps teachers, administrators, and students be informed about schools and what can help within your classroom. According to one of their latest articles, Where Are All the Male Teachers? , male teachers account for 25% of teachers in the U.S. The article talks about how many male teachers don’t feel comfortable working with children from K-6, only because they feel as if they can easily be accused of abuse. There are about 18% of male teachers that teach middle school. Male teachers feel more comfortable around this group age because they can be a little tougher, but know that the students will be able to handle it.
I was able to interview two male teachers at a local high school on their experiences and beliefs about male teachers. Mr. Tull was the first male teacher I interviewed. He teaches at Gridley High and has been teaching for over 10 years. I asked him why he decided to teach at a high school level. He responded by saying that he wanted to work with older students. He felt like working with younger kids would be more of a hassle. He loves working with kids, but he just feels more comfortable working with older kids. The second teacher I interviewed was Mr. Bailey. Mr. Bailey has been a teacher at Gridley High School for 2 years and recently transferred to Lindhurst High School. He also feels that teaching at a higher level is best for him. He said that working with younger children is made more for female teachers. He isn’t trying to sound sexist, but he feels that personally he can’t baby children. He wants to be hard on his students, but in a way where they appreciate it. He lets his students know that it isn’t personal it’s just business. Mr. Bailey works hard to make his student’s successful, but when it comes to outside of the classroom he is one of the coolest people you’ll ever meet.
Male teachers are something you don’t see everyday. It’s not because it isn’t meant for them, it’s just that they choose to take a different pathway. Education is valuable in our culture and it shouldn’t matter who teaches it.  Share your thoughts in the comments.

-Erick Garcia

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Dress to Impress!

Dress the way you want to feel! Dress the way you want to be perceived! While we all pass around the phrase "don't judge a book by its cover", it's not a secret that we do so anyway, especially in a professional setting. So, when you step into an interview, walk through the door looking like a book the panel will want to read!
I've done some research on the do's and dont's of professional attire and have compiled all the information into a simple list. Enjoy!
Do spend a little extra on the basics i.e. a suit that fits you properly. Go cheap on blouses to wear underneath.
Do tuck it in (directed more towards men). When you walk into an interview with your shirt hanging out, you might come off as a little rushed or indifferent.
Do iron your clothes. This is an indication of preparedness for your interview. 
Do pick a piece to show your personality. This could be a small piece of jewelry or maybe a little color. As long as you don't overdo it, putting a little personality in your outfit is a good thing!
Do a dress rehearsal. Make sure you can comfortably sit, there aren't any parts of your outfit you nervously play with, etc.

Don't feel tied to black. People immediately associate professional with all black. You're not in mourning so feel free to throw in a little, tasteful splash of color!
Don't wear bright-colored, fake nails. This is distracting. It's better to go with a more natural look.
Don't pile up on labels. Don't choose clothes with obvious "big designer" names. Wearing nice pieces is great if you can afford it, but flaunting this might send the wrong message.
Don't wear flashy ties. Men, try to stick to a small pin or other accessories. Save your Sesame Street tie for the classroom. The kids will love it!
Don't pull a Napoleon Dynamite guys! Make sure the socks you're wearing under your suit match the suit as well. It is more distracting than you think.

I encourage you to visit websites such as Pinterest or Stumble Upon to explore different wardrobe possibilities. Polyvore even has a section, "Teachers Outfits on a Teacher's Budget." 

Best of luck!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Share the Road


It has come to my attention that there has recently been a significant spike in the number of accidents involving bicyclists and motor vehicles. In fact, so many that I felt it would be worthwhile to inform students of the Liberal Studies community about bicycle safety. A little over a month ago I was casually riding my bike home from campus after a PALS meeting. I was on a two-way street in the Avenues as a car entered onto the street coming from the opposite direction. As typical two-way traffic occurs, we were facing one another for a good ten seconds or so before passing directions; naturally, I assumed the driver was aware of my presence. I quickly realized that assuming was quite possibly my biggest mistake. As soon as we crossed paths I heard the tires of the car whip around and before I could even look to move I was hit. The last thing I saw was the front right corner of the car hitting my bike as I was knocked onto the concrete. Oh, and let me add the lovely detail of smacking my head on a parked car as I went down…just awesome. I’ll wrap it up by letting you know that my bicycle and I were okay; just some bruises and the need for a new kickstand.

I went to class the following morning and couldn't help but over hear a classmate of mine talking about how she was hit by a car near campus on her route to school. The following Monday I went to a different class to hear what you ask? YES, another friend of mine had been hit by a car and it had damaged her bike severely; luckily both girls were fine. This was blowing my mind, I had to look deeper. It turns out that in the month of February there were at least 8 similar accidents that were reported to the University Police Department ; and since neither I nor my two other classmates reported our incidents the numbers were definitely higher. There was even an accident between a vehicle and bicyclist on Legion Ave during the campus bike safety event - how ironic right? The point I want to make is that we are all certainly aware of how many distractions can take place while driving a vehicle (music, texting, conversation, road rage, squirrels, etc.). Therefore, as a bicyclist we have to assume the worst from the driver in order to protect ourselves from harm – because trust me, you are not going to win.  As a driver, please be aware of the laws involved in sharing the road and avoid such distractions as much as possible. There’s no need to be a show off as a bicyclist or a driver when it comes to the safety of a human life. 

I have provided a link from the California DMV website about the laws and regulations revolved around bicyclists. http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/brochures/fast_facts/ffdl37.htm

The website states: 

"Each year in California, more than 100 people are killed and hundreds of thousands more are injured in bicycle collisions. Some bicycle related crashes are connected to the bicyclist’s behavior, while others are due to the motorist’s lack of attention.

Here are the four main tips to follow as a bicyclist:
  • Maintain control of your bicycle.
  • Protect yourself–reduce the risk of head injury by always wearing a helmet.
  • Be visible, alert, and communicate your intentions.
  • Ride with traffic.
Chico is a beautiful community to enjoy bike riding as either a commute or leisure activity! We as students of the university should feel fortunate to know that the city clearly cares about making an effort to constantly improve safety measures for bicyclists. Many of you returning students may have noticed the new green bike lanes painted in the main areas of downtown – another simple indication to drivers to share the road. It is very unlikely that such additions will be used in residential areas anytime soon; which is where a lot of accidents tend to take place due to lack of road space. 

So remember! Maintain control, protect yourself, be visible in communicating your intentions, and ride with traffic. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Teaching Abroad


Ever have the urge to travel? Ever want to travel abroad but your hectic academic and social calendar never permitted it? Well the Department of Defense can offer you both of these opportunities and more.

The Department of Defense is continuously hiring on a need-base for school staff-positions on American Army bases within the U.S. and around the world. Listings for some of these locations include but are not limited to; Fort Jackson, South Carolina, Tongduchon, South Korea, Wiesban, Germany, Okinawa Island, Japan, and many more. These jobs vary within the field of Education, from Substitute Teacher, to Educational Aid, Guidance Counselor to Child and Youth Program Assistant. The job types and descriptions vary depending on the location and specific need, so you never know what you may find! Job profiles are all located online, as well as the application requirements (most applications are available electronically), as well as the steps required prior and post applying. Travel, relocation, and key requirements of the job are listed, as well at the explicit job qualifications and duties. These qualifications and duties are usually very specific, so that you can get a sense of the exact requirements, as well as age group or interactions you will be working with.

To search more of these job listings, visit either of these two websites:

When working for the Department of Defense Education Activity you have the potential to receive the equivalent benefits of a Federal employee, or in short- a Military Personnel. This includes and offers a comprehensive benefits package that includes, in part, paid vacation, sick leave, holidays, life insurance, health benefits, and participation in the Federal Employees Retirement System. To find out more about the major benefits offered to most Federal employees, visit http://www.opm.gov/healthcare-insurance/ .

As Department of Defense Dependent Schools (DoDDS) Educators are stationed outside of the U.S., they may be eligible for certain other benefits such as allowances, differentials, and transportation agreements. These are all determined by the types of (job) appointment and location of residence at the time of appointment. Each appointment also has a different time requirement, or tour of duty, depending on the location and position obtained.

This opportunity is one that has the potential for both personal and professional growth. It presents the opportunity to travel; possibly far across the globe to a part of the world you have never visited. Here you can apply what you have learned through your education in a foreign country, but on an American base where the people and children you will be working/interacting with will also speak English. You may pick up new skills and proficiencies from your experiences that you can then apply upon your return home to the United States. Teaching abroad is an aspect of your career that is sure to wow future employers and coworkers as well! This is also a perfect opportunity to give back to those men and women who have dedicated their life to the service, by teaching and nurturing their children, helping them grow and develop. 

Friday, February 28, 2014

5 Things


A teacher is someone who is held to the highest of expectations whilst molding the minds of our future. This responsibility is a great one and so, naturally, admittance into the teaching profession requires some very specific qualities and abilities. As future teachers, we spend a lot of time trying to anticipate what these qualities and abilities are that catch the attention of interview panels.  What are they looking for? Through online research as well as a conversation with someone who has sat on many panels interviewing for teaching positions, I have come up with five things for a future teacher to consider and pay special attention to. Each one has an example of a question or scenario that could be given by the interview panel. These examples were given by a school principal who has participated on many interview panels. 

1. Passion for Student Growth

What is your purpose for wanting to be a teacher? 

An employer wants to know that you are passionate about the growth of students, not simply that you have "always pictured yourself in front of a classroom". They want to hear about your dreams and plans and how those ideas will lead to positive change in the growth of the students at their school site. Think about what ideas you have, how you want to implement those ideas, and why you were inspired to make such changes. 

2. Ability to Collaborate/Communicate 

Why is collaboration important? What would be strategies in enhancing collaboration opportunities with teachers? 

Part of being an effective teacher is being able to function as part of a team. Think about the ways collaboration with other more or less-seasoned teachers could improve the quality of education at the school. It is not a secret that teachers are extremely busy and that collaboration takes extra time and effort. Think about ways to collaborate effectively and efficiently. Monthly dinners or lunches with staff? An idea board in the staff room perhaps? 

How would you keep a communication with parents of students?

New teachers spend a lot of time considering their interaction with students, but they sometimes fail to think about the communication they have with parents. Think about the strategies you could use to keep parents "in the loop" and make sure that their questions and concerns are heard and answered. Letters home are nice, but does that allow communication to flow both ways? Think in-depth about how to create an open, two-way line of communication.  

3. Flexibility 

Scenario: What if you just taught a lesson and five students don't seem to understand? 

Teachers are expected to move through a lot of material in a relatively short amount of time. From these expectations often stems a rigid schedule. Because students learn at different rates and in different ways, there will be certain concepts which some students will find more challenging than others. Think about how you can give more specialized instruction to certain students while still allowing the rest of the class to improve their own abilities. Maybe you have a period of activity stations which allows students to be self-sufficient while you work with those who require extra help. Brainstorm these types of scenarios before an interview, employers want to see that you have given this some thought. 

4. Strong Work Ethic and Compassion  

Scenario: How would you respond to a child if they tell you one of their parents was just incarcerated?

Unfortunately, this type of situation is a reality in the lives of many of our students. This child's parent could have committed a seemingly unforgivable crime, but your responsibility is to the student who is living the nightmare of having their parent taken from them. Employers want to see that you have the ability to look beyond your own opinions and beliefs and meet a child's woes with compassionate care. Each student, despite their situation outside of school, deserves to be met with love and understanding. 

How do you feel about unfinished tasks? 

How often have you had a disorganized teacher who seems to have a thousand unfinished thoughts, plans and projects? This type of attitude results in a chaotic environment that makes it difficult for students to thrive. An employer wants to see if you have the ability to come up with, organize and carry out your plans. The education of children in a very limited time frame requires an ability to carefully plan. 

5. Ability to Analyze and Adjust 

Scenario:  What if you find there is a standard where your students are having difficulty, what do you do? 

This is related to flexibility. Here,employers want to see that you have the ability to not just notice that students aren't understanding a standard, but to analyze and decipher where exactly students went wrong. Maybe your students seem to be having a difficult time in long division. You dig deeper and discover that they seem to make mistakes in the dividing process when required to multiply by sevens. Using this information, you prepare a worksheet reminding students of their sevens multiplication facts. A teacher with less analytic skills might have wasted a couple of days re-teaching the entire concept of long division. 

I hope that you have found some of this information to be new and useful. I encourage you to spend time talking to others who have either been interviewed or have sat on an interviewing panel. This is the best way to gain insight into what an employer is looking for. Good luck to you! 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

More then just a teacher


Have you ever stopped to think about how much our previous and present teachers/professors have helped us in our lives? Teachers have played a huge role in shaping who we are today. Teachers are part of how we think and where our concepts of thinking come from.  From kindergarten up to high school, I feel like they give us all the tools to go into college and face it head on. When we get into college, professors not only give you the material you need to receive your degree, but they give you their knowledge to become a better person in life. Some professors go out of their way to make you understand why it is important to pursue what you've always wanted to do in your life. I feel as if teachers have helped us become the successful students we are today. They spend everyday of their lives helping and molding students to be the best they can. So why are teachers aren't credited more for what they do?

Teachers are what make our future. Teachers are essential to us in becoming successful. We weren’t born smart. We didn't come out of the womb knowing how to do calculus or how to read a book and write an essay, it was taught to us. How does a president become a president? Sure they need an amazing resume with great things they have accomplished, but there is always one thing that every president usually has and that’s an education. Education is taught to us from educators! Behind every great mind there was a teacher. Someone who taught them everything they know. I one day want to become a counselor. Do you think that I even know where to begin on how to counsel people? No, I have to learn from someone. Teachers encourage us to be something. Our parents and peers have something to do with it as well, but teachers capitalize on it and push us because they want to see us grow and be successful. 

Edudemic.com is a leading education technology website that posts blogs and articles on the success of teachers and the affects they have on children. A recent article called, How Teachers Make a Difference, “had a study of 103 U.S. students between 7 to 15 years old found that most rated their teachers as very socially/emotionally/supportive.” There was a given statistic on 88% of American adults reported that a teacher in their past education had a significant impact on their success today. Of the adults, 83% of them said, “that a teacher had helped boost their self-esteem and confidence.” Teachers push and encourage us and give us hope. Teachers are a big resource in our life. They are here to help us succeed and become something great. Educators should be valued and appreciated not just because they are our mentors but because they are our friends.