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I am currently about to begin my first full year as a Junior High Physical Education and Health Teacher after substituting in middle school math and science for one semester after graduation. One thing I have done in my classroom that I am excited about and continuing doing is 2-to-3-minute brain break about halfway through class. My brain breaks usually consist of movement, movement across the mid-line of the body, cooperative games, problem solving, or strategy, all intended to ensure my students are engaged from start to beginning. I plan on utilizing best teaching practices in order to give my students a valuable education and incorporate assessment to help enrich my instruction. My lessons focus on real-world experiences and activities, full inclusion, and activities that allow the students to enhance their thought processes. A great piece of advice for pre-service teacher candidates is to not hold back when planning lessons and ensure you are giving your students the best experience during your lesson. Look for creative ways to introduce material, relate that material to your students, and allow your students to apply that material in many ways that stretch their minds.

My name is Briana Holland and I am currently a kindergarten teacher working for Chicago Public Schools through the AUSL network. By working at an AUSL school, I have the chance to work in a school that was not performing well and was turned around. This school year I am going into my fifth year of teaching and second year with CPS. I am excited to get going this school year because I will also work in the role of Primary Teacher Leader for my school. This summer I spent some time reviewing new curriculum for my classroom and mapping out what I would like to see done this year in my department. Last year my students made large gains in vocabulary which allowed them to reach high reading levels. I am excited to try out new strategies with my students that will hopefully help them to make greater gains than the students I had last school year. On top of trying out new things in my classroom and taking on the role as Teacher Leader for our Primary Department, I am also on the Culture and Climate team as well as the Social Committee and am eager to plan new events and collaborate with others on how to improve our school. As a fifth year teacher my advice to those going into teaching would be to continue to learn in every space and environment you are in. As a teacher, learning never stops and one must know just as much as they know academically to be able to teach the whole child. Also I would advise to not give up when you are faced with dilemmas. Learn from them, reflect on them, but do not give it. If you give up you won’t be able to honestly tell your students not to give up when faced with adversity. My last piece of advice would be to keep pushing to achieve greater but to also make time for yourself. A healthy mind, spirit, and body can achieve more any day versus a tired one.

Hello, my name is Katie Roe and I am a junior here at Benedictine University. I am studying Elementary Education with a minor in Special Education and am loving every second of my journey here! I especially enjoy my preclinical experiences; being able to go into the classrooms and help teach the children. One of my fondest memories of my very first preclinical experience was being able to give the weekly spelling tests and having to come up with fun, as well as, interesting sentences to make the test a little better for the children! I am currently getting ready to start my second preclinical and am super excited to get back in the classroom. I hope to have a good year and will be planning on attending the Illinois Council for Exceptional Children (ICEC) Fall Convention in November for professional development. A piece of advice I like to give to all students interested in becoming teachers is to stay on top of your schedule. Time management is a huge skill and a necessity for any career path, but especially being a teacher. Besides all that, just remember to have fun and enjoy positively impacting your students‘ lives!

BJ Ward Elementary School in Bolingbrook, Illinois is a diverse hub of learning, filled with 540 of the most lively, tenacious students in grades preK-5 you will ever meet. Converted from a former middle school, BJ Ward opened its doors as an elementary school in August of 2005. Our students come with a great economic need with 95%+ being considered low income. Furthermore, 42% of the school is considered LEP (limited English proficiency). Despite these hurdles, BJ Ward is dedicated to helping its students succeed through a variety of its initiatives. From family events like the annual Donuts for Dads breakfast to Family Fitness nights that encourage parental involvement to the school’s many clubs including intramurals, tutoring, drama, science, and more, BJ Ward works to provide a holistic education for its students. This holistic approach includes focusing on providing students with healthy life skills such as our garden club supporting healthy eating or our Pay it Forward project that encourages students to be kinder than necessary. Furthermore BJ Ward staff and its partners are dedicated to providing the high quality education that its students deserve by taking advantage of community resources such as partnerships with the local library, businesses, and pursuing grant opportunities.

Dr. Mary Jeffery is an assistant professor with the School of Education and is the Assistant Licensure Office and Assessment Coordinator. She came to Benedictine University as an adjunct instructor and student teaching supervisor in January 2011 after teaching and administrating in secondary public schools for over 15 years. After receiving her bachelor’s degree at Illinois Wesleyan University, Dr. Jeffery followed her love of adventure and moved to Arizona where she worked to develop alternative education programs for high school students. She moved from Arizona to Michigan and completed her Masters of Arts in Teaching K-12 Reading at Saginaw Valley State University. Dr. Jeffery recently completed her Doctorate in Education with a concentration in Leadership in Curriculum and Instruction at Aurora University. Her current position marries her varied background and interests; her administrative experience guides her interest in assessment and her teaching experience guides her interest in working with preclinical candidates, advising, and teaching licensure.