Be firm. Be flexible. Be confident. Be caring. But, most of all, remember your passion for teaching. So said 13 Cato School of Education graduates in the first-ever alumni panel for current students.
Asked how Queens helped them be successful teachers, the alums pointed to the intimate educational setting, encouragement to volunteer, getting hands-on classroom experience, and the opportunity to study abroad.
"Get out in the world and do things and experience things and bring it back and tell your kids about it," recommended Lacey Van Every '10, an elementary teacher at Smithfield in Charlotte.
The former students also offered encouragement for students just beginning the education major, and the seniors about to student teach. "The most important part is connecting with [your students]," said former SGA president Angel Rouson '12, a high school math teacher for Edgecombe County. "If you don't have that you won't have them."
Earning the trust of students wasn't the only challenge addressed. The alums were open about difficulties they faced as young teachers, earning the trust of veteran teachers and parents, working in difficult settings, developing a support network, and finding a balance between the work and a personal life.
"There's always something you can research or grade," said Missy Olson '12, a high school English teacher at Northwest School of the Arts in Charlotte.
"If you do not love teaching, this is not for you," warned Shante LaSanta '01, a teacher at Quail Hollow Elementary in Charlotte.
It was an easy segue, then, to the challenges of classroom management. Olson recommended, "be confident, and, if not, fake it."
Rouson added, "never ever underestimate the value of a smile."
While Lindsay Woodhouse '12, an elementary teacher at Idlewild in Charlotte, recommended giving students routine and holding them accountable, while also saying, "I love you."
Woodhouse described the teaching profession as "chaos, even if it becomes organized chaos." Yet, she remained upbeat. "You're so prepared," she told the Queens students. "Even though it's going to be hard, even though you feel overwhelmed now, know that you will survive."