ABE 1 Autobiographical Essay Mark Boatman Professor Carol BillingEducation 201: Foundations of Education Fall 2011
ABE 2Introduction A pivotal question in the pursuit of a career in teaching is, „why do you want to teach?‟There are many reasons why I want to teach, but explaining previous personal experiences in mylife is a vital component.My background as a student and son to two parents within the educationsystem, gives me a somewhat unique view into the teaching profession. My mom was anelementary school teacher of various grade levels for over three decades, and is now a ScienceCurriculum Coordinator in southeastern Washington. Although I am obviously biased, I knowthat she was a great teacher, which beyond previous students‟ accounts, was acknowledged byPresident Barack Obama in 2009 as the recipient of Science Teacher of the Year for the state ofWashington. My dad was a high school government and physical education teacher, and is nowan Assistant Principal in the Kennewick School District in Washington State. This previousbackground information doesn‟t directly relate to the question at hand, but I feel that it indirectlyrelates in that even when I wasn‟t in the classroom, growing up I was able to get to knowhundreds of teachers at all levels, and the importance of an education was definitely alwaysstressed. My parents are definitely proud that I want to teach. Despite always being surrounded by educators, pursuing the teaching path wasn‟t alwayswhat I wanted to do. However, I have always been somewhat of an educator to friends, peers,and coworkers. I guess it‟s in the blood. Without sounding to arrogant, I‟ve always enjoyedimparting knowledge on others. It sound cliché, but is important to me to have a profession thatcan have tangible positive influences on the community as a whole, or even one child. Basically,I agree that teaching is more of a “vocation” than a “job”. The various intrinsic rewards
ABE 3associated with the teaching profession are very important. Camaraderie with fellow teachers,seeing students learn and develop, and a love of working with kids, are all quite valuable to me.There is no better way to benefit society than to teach, and I can‟t wait for the opportunity toensure success in the next generation of young students.Educational Background Both of my parents have been educators for their entire careers and have always stressedthe importance of receiving an education. They recognized the benefits of beginning schoolingat an early age, and did everything within their power to provide me with a stable learningenvironment. My formal schooling began inMt. Home, Idaho at Montessori Preschool. At that youngage, Pre-school provided a basis and foundation of learning for years to come. I attendedelementary school at three separate locations in two states. The first elementary school I attendedwas East Elementary in Mt. Home. After my 1st grade year was concluded, our family moved toWashington State because teaching there provided my parents with more adequate financialsupport. I entered the 2nd grade at Cascade Elementary in Kennewick, WA. I didn‟t like theteacher, as she was too much of an Authoritarian, and I didn‟t sense that she like her studentsvery much. I finished Elementary School at Southgate Elementary, where my mom was ateacher. At this stage in my schooling, I began to thrive, and developed a love of learning. I hadgreat teachers, especially Mrs. Anderson who taught the 4th and 5th grade. She always provided achallenging, yet fun classroom environment. An added bonus to attending school where mymom taught was that she was always down the hall to provide guidance, inquiry, and muchneeded parental support throughout the day.
ABE 4 My Middle School years were spent at Horse Heaven Hills, where the daily structure wasquite different from the earlier years of my education. Having various teachers and subjectsthroughout the day was a great way to see different approaches in instruction, and the ability todevelop close relationships with peers. Kennewick High School is where I really developed a niche in the school environment.My dad was the Assistant Principal of the school and guided me along the way. This alsoallowed me to get to know my teachers well, both in and outside of the classroom. High Schoolprovided various class options, both core subjects and electives, which allowed me to pursueareas of interest with enthusiasm. I also partook in various extra-curricular activities, fromLeadership Counsel to Wrestling. Also in High School I enrolled in the InternationalBaccalaureate Program, part time, which involved advanced college preparation courses. I chosenot to do the IB Program full-time because I enjoyed the relationships I had built in my regularclasses, and wanted to have some continuity. This decision probably wasn‟t the most beneficialin terms of educational challenges, but looking back I appreciate having both perspectives. As you can imagine, living in a household of teachers, not attending a College orUniversity was not an option. I knew early on that I was destined for the University of Idaho. Ithas a great campus, an inviting atmosphere, and I couldn‟t wait for the adventures that Collegelife would bring. Besides the challenging courses, I was an active leader within the Universityon campus leadership counsels, and servingas the Interfraternity Council‟s Recruitment Chair.At the University of Idaho, the content of my classes was not difficult for me to grasp, although,going to class consistently….that‟s another story. However, as I matured and learned timemanagement skills, I began to do better. I graduated in 4 years with a Bachelors of Sciencedegree in Anthropology and a Minor in Political Science.
ABE 5 School serves many different purposes, and each school I have attended has contributedto my professional development. Obviously one of the purposes for schools is to promoteintellectual development, which leads directly to knowing content matter and information, inrelation to a specific field. The socialization process is all about educating the young, so theycan be functioning, well-rounded members of society. Intrinsic to teaching is striving tounderstand the students to be effective in the classroom. Before you can understand the students,you first must have an understanding of self. It was easy for me to get to know my teachers andobserve them because I was in the school environment more than the kids whose parents didn‟twork at the school. I learned early on, from dinner table discussions with my parents that eachstudent learns at a different level of understanding. I will apply this pedagogical contentknowledge when I teach to be as effective as possible. A general observation I made throughoutmy education is that it seems like Elementary schools focus on how information is being taught,versus High Schools that seem to focus on content, or what‟s being taught. I believe thatfocusing on how information is being conveyed is just as, if not more, important than simplyspitting out facts and content. As stated above, I currently have an Undergraduate degree, and pursued a career inArchaeology, the years following graduation. After working as an Archaeologist for 3 years, Idecided what I really wanted to do was teach. Pursuing a 2nd degree is challenging, but I am abeliever in doing what makes you happy, and I believe teaching will provide that satisfaction.Work History Throughout my life I have held many different jobs that run the gamete of experiences,and even dove into a career as an Archaeologist for several years. Although some job
ABE 6experiences I‟ve had have been more worthwhile and fruitful than others, all of my job historyhas played a vital role in my development as a professional and human being. The first job I had was as a paperboy for the Tri-City Herald, which was a great job tohave when I was young because I was able to finish before school even started. It taught me at ayoung age that to work sometimes you must make sacrifices, such as getting up before all ofyour peers, as I certainly had to do with that job. When I was in high school, I worked at aclothing store, called Zumiez, which allowed me to make a little bit of spending money, andpartake in the skateboarding culture in which I was already invested. Throughout college I helda few other clothing retail jobs for various companies, such as American Eagle and Hollister.These jobs were not ideal, but as a college student struggling to financially contribute in any waypossible, I realized that sometimes any job is better than no job. Throughout my college career at the University of Idaho I did not work during the schoolyear because I wanted to focus on academic achievement. After obtaining a degree inAnthropology, I moved to the Treasure Valley, where I began the search for a career inArchaeology. Unfortunately because of the economic recession, no Cultural Resource firmswere hiring in Idaho, and so I moved to Salt Lake City to work for SWCA EnvironmentalConsultants with my brother and sister-in-law as an Archaeologist. After a year in Utah, I finallyfound work in Boise as an Archaeologist for the Bureau of Land Management. In both of theabove jobs I had to travel to various areas, and perform cultural survey (hiking), analyze andrecord cultural sites, translate findings to site forms, photograph various items, take GPSpositions on sites and artifacts, and catalogue findings. There were also various officeresponsibilities such as site form entry, database management, artifact curation, etc. I also gotthe opportunity to prove myself as a crew chief for two years with the BLM, managing a field
ABE 7crew of 5 people. My career as an Archaeologist was both physically challenging andintellectually stimulating, but I felt like it was generally unfulfilling. All of these past work experiences are beneficial to my pursuit as an educator. A lesson Itook away from having a paper route was that time is money, not to sound too cliché. In order tosucceed and make money I had to get up earlier than most people, which was hard on some days,but it in order to keep the job and ensure everyone on my block got a paper, it had to be done.The clothing store jobs taught me that I couldn‟t fail as a student, and needed to pursue a highereducation because I couldn‟t imagine barely scraping by working that kind of job for the rest ofmy life. Those jobs enhanced my view of the importance of education. My professional careeras an Archaeologist taught me many things. I learned that being able to work as a collective unit,maintaining personal responsibility, while being able to conduct the group to accomplish acommon goal. Other skills that are applicable to a career in teaching that I took away from myprevious career, is that being organized cuts down on stress when trying to attain a goal.Successful teachers have told me that a well-ordered, organized classroom and lesson, allowmore time to focus on effective instruction and other responsibilities.Service and Extracurricular Activities Extra-curricular activities have always played an important role in my life. I believethere is a direct link between active participation in the community and living a successful life,both when in school and beyond. In high school I was involved in wrestling and natural helpers. The sport I favored mostwas wrestling because although it was a one-on-one sport where the effort I put in directlyrelated to a positive or negative result, the team goal was still of utmost importance. I learned
ABE 8that individual effort and hard work strengthened the unity and achievement of the entire team.This is similar to what a teacher experiences, in that when in a cooperative environment whereteachers work in collaboration rather than competition, the educational goals of the entire schoolare more attainable, which ultimately fosters a better environment for student learning Throughout my college career at the University of Idaho I was involved in many differentextra-curricular activities, both related to school and the community. While attending U of I, Ibecame a member of the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity and held various leadership positions,where I was involved in strengthening the community, the fraternity, and those around me.Some of these positions included social chair, philanthropy chair, and Vice President. As VicePresident I worked as a liaison between my fraternity and other fraternal organizations. Asphilanthropy chair one of my duties was encouraging involvement in our charity events as wellas others across the University. One charity event that our fraternity brought to the communitywas Relay for Life. Another extra-curricular activity that I was very enthusiastic about was therole of Recruitment Chair for the Interfraternity Council at the University of Idaho. I served twoyears in that role, and my responsibilities included managing freshmen fraternal recruitment forthe Greek system. In this role I was able to take a leadership position among my peers. Animportant part of the IFC position was interacting with not only future and fellow students, butwith University officials and parents. I learned quickly that I had to wear many “hats” and workin conjunction with many different groups of people. As a new teacher, I will probably be called upon to participate in some sort of activityoutside of the normal school hours, such as a family-night, or school concert, or sporting event.These sorts of extra-curricular activities should not be thought of as a burden and outside ofteacher duties, but rather as an opportunity to interact with students, or parents, and show support
ABE 9for the school. It is important that teachers stay active in the community and be willing tocontribute his/her time, money, and efforts to the nearby community. An effective teacher isable to balance professional duties with active participation in the community.Reasons for Choosing Education as a Career A career in teaching has always been appealing to me. Ever since I was young I‟ve beenpassionate about helping others learn. The great teachers that I had in school really believed inme, and were essential in guiding me to work hard and strive for success. I want to be that kindof teacher, instilling high expectations and a sense of purpose in all of my future students. I wantto make a difference, I want to empower someone to learn and think about something in a newlight. It sounds cliché, but children are going to be leaders of the future, and what better way tobe directly involved in helping to make a better future for everyone than being a successfuleducator. I believe that with equal opportunity and access to learning, every student has thepotential to do great things, and I want to empower every child with the tools they need to besuccessful. An appealing aspect of teaching is that I think the students will keep me young. Workingwith the young, interacting with them, and watching them grow and develop into successfulhuman beings is at the heart of why I want to teach. Also, adolescents can be rather funny. Thevarious personalities of students that teachers encounter can provide for amusing situations.Teachers wear many hats, and students often need them to be more than an instructor, but oftentimes a counselor, a cheerleader, or a role model; and often times the teacher becomes thestudent. Although I may pursue teaching a particular subject, and my knowledge of that subjectmay be great, teaching forces you to be a lifelong learner. Students often ask intriguing
ABE 10questions and may present their own insights, which will cause me to have to dig deeper andexpand my knowledge. Another aspect I like about teaching is that every year, every day, every lesson, everystudent is different from the next. You could teach a lesson with different groups of students orat different times during the day, and the outcomes and involvement in the lesson will bedifferent. I like the concept of being able to control your own class, not in the sense of being ina powerful position, but in the sense of being a facilitator of discussion, content, and learning.That sense of classroom autonomy is an appealing aspect to a career in teaching, which is unlikemost professions. Unfortunately I think sometimes teachers get bombarded with pressures andget wrapped up in test scores and grading papers, and lose sight of the original reason of whythey entered the teaching profession, and the excitement of making a difference in a youngperson‟s life is lost. I always knew that one day I would pursue a career in teaching; it was just a matter ofwhen. My parents have had fulfilling careers as educators, both as teachers and administrators,and I wanted a career that made me genuinely happy. Throughout my years at the University ofIdaho I first pursued a degree in Geology, then Political Science, and finally Anthropology.With my Bachelors of Science degree in Anthropology I worked as an Archaeologist for aboutfour years. For a while this was a satisfying career, where I got to spend a lot of time traveling,hiking outdoors, and experiencing ancient history first-hand. But there was something missingin that career. I wanted to make a positive impact on others, and I had always felt a callingtowards teaching. I know that teaching will be a challenging career, with unique frustrations, butthe intrinsic rewards and joy of the job are second to none.
ABE 11Professional Goals An aspect of teaching that I feel is vital is to approach the job with a willingness to adaptand grow as a professional. The day that I get the opportunity to enter the profession will begreat, but I realize that the struggle doesn‟t stop there. It is my duty as an educator to be astudent in the field, pursuing further training and educational opportunities myself. The world ofeducation is ever evolving, with new theories and various applications of teaching practicesalways being presented. To be an effective teacher is to be fluid and dynamic, considering andutilizing the various theories and beneficial practices that will aid in the goal of preparing mystudents to be successful in any endeavor they pursue later in life. My immediate goals after entering the teaching profession are not as specific as some ofmy other goals, but will encompass what I want to accomplish throughout my career. I hope tohit the ground running as a new teacher, promoting an academically engaged learningenvironment, with critical thinking, a desire to participate, and shared knowledge as thecornerstones of my classroom. It may sound cliché, but I simply want to instill knowledge and adesire to learn in every student that I teach, so that they will develop into smart, highlyfunctioning members of society. Many changes have occurred in my life in the past year. I gave up a career as anArchaeologist to pursue my true calling in life, teaching. In a last minute decision I decided toapply to the College of Western Idaho to see what the college had to offer as a step in the processof attaining a second Bachelor‟s or possible Master‟s degree in Education. Having a degree fromthe University of Idaho, with my core requirements completed, my focus has been solely oneducation courses. After I finish up with the required education courses at CWI in the spring, I
ABE 12plan on transferring to a four-year institution within the state. I am still weighing my options,but will most likely attend either Boise State University or pursue my degree from the Universityof Idaho, taking classes remotely. The plans I have laid will help me accomplish my short-termgoal of becoming highly qualified in each of the core academic subjects I want to teach, andhaving full state certification. Until recently I was unsure of whether I wanted to teach at theElementary of Secondary level, but I‟ve tentatively decided that teaching Middle School wouldprovide its own exciting challenges and opportunities. I have always had a passion for historyand government, and would love to share that passion with Middle School age students.Although these students are not yet voters, I feel that it is important to pass on a love for country,to show them that past events and people help guide and shape future ones, and that they willbecome the future leaders of our country. I believe that with proper training and furthering myeducation, I can become a highly marketable and effective teacher, with many job opportunitiesat my disposal. I hope to work at a school that is supportive, collaborative, welcoming, providesadequate and equal resources to all students and teachers, and allows for some sense ofautonomy within the classroom environment. It is important as a teacher to not only focus on the immediate or short-term, but to reflecton long-term goals. As a person with natural leadership ability and experience, I tend to seek outleadership roles. Once I become an experienced teacher I would strive to become a departmenthead. Department Chairs often are designed and perceived as instructional leaders within theirdepartment, developing and influencing curriculum and the direction or focus of the department.Department Chairs also supervise and evaluate instruction, have regular contact with theadministration, and act as intermediaries between the teachers and administration. The nextavenue of education I might pursue is to become an Administrator. I believe that great
ABE 13Administrators are leaders among teaching and learning at their prospective schools. They haveclear comprehension of academic goals, how and if those goals are being achieved, how to meetchallenges head-on, and are generally invested in both the teachers and students‟ livelihoods. Ibelieve that I have the skills in planning and oversight needed to become an effectiveadministrator, and overall have a keen interest in the success of my teachers and students.Conclusion In conclusion, I believe that reflecting on my unique life experiences will contribute tomy development of becoming an effective teacher.There are many aspects of teaching that areappealing, but to me making a difference in the lives of others is, above all, what calls me to thisvocation. I hope to be an effective teacher that prepares the youth for success in adulthood;equipped with all the tools they need to be educated, pro-social members of society. I havealways been drawn to education and look forward to a career where I can impart knowledge andmodel good citizenship.