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Samantha Nordeng PDP 450 Essay 01/03/14

During my short four years at Bridgewater College I have learned more than I could have ever possibly imagined. I have found what a true liberal studies education contains. While sitting in class I frequently found myself recalling information from a previous class that connected to the new material I was learning. I may have had greater exposer to this due to my liberal studies major, but I truly feel that every student at Bridgewater discovers these connections as well. I feel proud to quote myself as a freshman regarding the connections I discovered, So you see all these subjects connect in some way. We cannot be a world citizen without ethics, which can be attained by having intellect, and being able to critically make decisions, which ultimately can only be able to happen if we have wellness. Without a healthy mind and body we wouldnt be able to make good, ethical decisions. To be completely honest, I did not remember everything I wrote as a freshman so I went back and read my PDP 150 paper. I was totally surprised by my work and was impressed by how much I had learned in just one short semester at Bridgewater. I consider myself a modest person, but as I think about my education I feel extremely accomplished and I want people to know that. Bridgewater has helped me to become an intellectual world citizen, a spiritual as well as ethical individual, and it has helped me grow emotionally as well as physically. Every class I have taken at Bridgewater has helped me become a more intellectual person, but there are some classes that really challenged me and made me change my perspective on the world around me. One class that truly challenged me was Biology 115 human diversity.

This class challenged me to understand that races amongst humans do not exist. That is there are no biological differences between different kinds of people. There are different cultures that do exist, but to break humans up into different races is completely wrong because their biological makeup is the exact same. I took this class during interterm last year and we took a short weekend trip to Washington D.C. to explore the museums including The National Museum of Natural History, The National Museum of the American Indian, and U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. In high school I visited these museums but never with the goal of figuring out if the biological makeup of people is different according to their race. What I discovered while in the museums was eye opening, heart breaking, and infuriating. I learned that people have the tendency to categorize the human race and find certain groups superior while other groups fall below them in a hierarchical system. History shows us that the holocaust was one of the best, or rather the most horrific representations of this. The Nazis created a hierarchical system that left one group so low that the Nazis found it fit to eliminate them. As I walked through the holocaust museum I cried and felt disgusted by what had happened to these people because of their culture and the ignorance of the Nazis. The Nazi group believed that the Jewish people as well as homosexuals, gypsys, and mentally disabled people were less than human. There were horrible experiments performed on these people and hundreds of millions were murdered. It was very hard to swallow this information and understand how people could do this to others who look different to them. I feel like even though learning about the holocaust made me feel immensely sad and horrified, it is something that everyone should have to be informed about. Everyone should know about the evils of the world and to truly discover for themselves the science behind racism. In a

very short 3 week class I learned so much about how every humans genetic makeup is basically the same and that there are no such things as races. People have just adapted over time to their region and that is why we do not all look the same. After coming back to school we discussed what we all discovered while exploring the museums and found that the science did not back up the idea of races amongst humans. The final assignment for this class involved taking a common misconception about races and researching it. The common misconception that I researched was that the black race could sing better than other races. While researching for this paper I found that there was no biological or scientific evidence to support the claim that black people sing better than any other racial group. The misconception that certain races can sing better than others was developed by societal ignorance. The reason that this preconception still exists today is because people get set in their ways and do not want to better themselves by taking the time to learn the facts. These misconceptions about race create stereotypes and that is what effects people today. This biology class connected greatly with my Classroom Diversity class for education. Students around America are stereotyped by the color of their skin. Inner city students are thought to be lower achieving and less motivated while students in suburban areas are thought to be higher achieving and more motivated. One of the main reasons for this is the expectations for these students. Teachers and administrators are stereotyping the students and setting either high or low goals for them based on their skin color. As a future educator I have to understand that every student has certain abilities and I need to expect the highest possible achievement within their ability levels. I cannot limit my students by judging them based on the color of their skin. I

do however have to take into consideration my students backgrounds and cultures which may affect their learning capabilities and motivation. While taking my Classroom Diversity class there was a field experience that went along with it and I learned so much just from an afterschool program. I was kind of disappointed that I did not get to see a real diverse classroom because I was placed in an afterschool program. However, this did not stop me from observing the great diversity amongst the students at Smithland Elementary. When I first walked into the school I noticed the signs all over the walls that were printed in multiple languages. The entrance was very welcoming to many cultures and I think this would make families feel more comfortable with sending their students to that school. I want to try to incorporate this as much as I can into my future classroom to help my students and their families feel welcome. My experience with the students in the afterschool program helped me realize that I will have to research my students cultures because I do not want to be ignorant of their customs and belief systems. I feel that by taking my students and their familys belief systems into consideration I am developing myself as a more ethical person. There are several classes that helped me open up to different cultures and be more understanding of their beliefs. Not only did I learn about multiple different cultures in my Classroom Diversity classroom I learned about Buddhism in PDP 150, Christianity in Religion 220, and East Asian belief systems and customs in History 356. I feel more open minded and accepting of different cultures than before I started at Bridgewater. I believe I have become more of a world citizen by taking the time to learn about various different cultures and understanding their beliefs. My definition of an ethical person is one that takes everyones beliefs into account and helps create a comfortable environment for those people. I truly believe that I have become an

ethical person over my four years at Bridgewater College because of my chance to explore and learn about different cultures from around the world. I feel more culturally aware due to research papers completed in my education as well as history and science classes. I did not only grow into a more ethical person, but I believe I am more spiritual due to the influence of Bridgewater. I grew up in a Lutheran home and attended a Lutheran school from second grade through fifth grade. When I moved to Virginia with my mother and siblings we never got back into going to church or participating in church activities. Very early on in my Bridgewater career I found that my favorite convocations to attend were the Tuesday morning worship services with Chaplain Robbie Miller. I never felt like he was pushing certain beliefs on me or expecting particular things from me. He always discussed values from the perspective of a college student who has little time and is constantly fighting temptations. To take thirty minutes in the morning and sit quietly and listen to such a kind person who understands what we, college students, are going through was really comforting to me. I was able to push my hectic life to the side for thirty minutes of clarity and peace. These experiences made me spark a conversation with my fianc about our spiritual beliefs and how we wanted to introduce our future children to church or if we wanted to at all. I also took into consideration the things I learned in my New Testament class. We analyzed many passages from the New Testament and who actually wrote each passage. As we discovered more and more from each passage I began to question whether or not I believe in one God who laid down rule after rule that sometimes seemed ridiculous to me. In class we discussed certain rules that were made including men staying away from women when they were menstruating and women not being able to speak in church. We also learned that the bible can be interpreted many

different ways by different people around the world and I just dont know how I feel about teaching my future children about the bible. My fianc and I have not completely figured out what we want to do as of right now and children are at least five years down the road for us so we have some time to come to a decision. As of right now I believe in a combination of creation and evolution. In Biology 110 we learned about evolution and that makes complete and total sense to me. What also makes sense to me is a higher being or multiple beings that can create things such as evolution. I just cannot take myself seriously when I say that humans on Earth are the only thing out there in this universe. While in Astronomy I learned that there are hundreds of millions of galaxies that contain billions of planets that scientists have not even discovered yet. How can we be so egotistical and say that we are the only intelligent beings out there. There has to be more than this. I wish I had the answers and I definitely dont believe in the whole alien invasion thing, but I do believe there is more or at least I hope there is. Bridgewater has opened my eyes to all the possibilities in the universe and made me question so many different things that I had been set in my ways about for so long. Before Bridgewater I just felt content with the idea that God made us from Adam and Eve and there was no other life out there besides on Earth. Now I question everything and am constantly changing my beliefs. I want my children to consider every option and take the time to explore new ideas and scientific discoveries. This is something I can pass onto my children that I learned from Bridgewater. We cannot always just believe what we are told. We need to experiment and discover for ourselves what is out in the world and what theories we believe to be true.

In the past four years I have grown spiritually, ethically, and intellectually but I have also matured emotionally. I might even say that I have grown emotionally more than any other area of growth. There are many different components to my emotionally maturation and it all started with my personal relationship. I have been in a relationship with my fianc for seven years and we just recently got engaged six months ago. He has helped me get through the toughest parts of my life and I have never felt so connected to someone in my entire life. He helped me through my parents divorce, the loss of my parents home, frequent moves to temporary homes, my fathers move back to Wisconsin, my grandfathers death, and then he helped guide me to extreme happiness. He has always made me realize the bright side to all the horrible things that happen and told me to look for a better future. He constantly reminds me how accomplished I am and recognizes how hard I am working towards a better life for us. The most important thing my fianc has done for me is encourage my dream of becoming a teacher. One of the biggest components to my emotional maturation is working in the classroom with children. Every time I walk into a classroom I am greeted by smiling little faces and enormous personalities. They pull at every heart string I have. I am extremely grateful to the teacher education program for giving us the opportunity of going into different classroom multiple times. I have had numerous field experiences in six different schools in Harrisonburg City and Rockingham County. This not only allowed me to get experience, but it introduced me to so many wonderful students and it fueled my love for teaching. When I took Education 370 Classroom Management I was asked to complete a child abuse module online and it was one of the most eye opening experiences for me so far. As an educator I will not only be asked to make sure students can pass state tests, but I will be

emotionally involved in their lives which may include abuse. I have already witnessed many different situations where the wellbeing of a child was questioned. One of my first experiences where abuse was suggested was at Plains Elementary. I was getting in some community service hours when a little girl came into school with a bruise in the shape of a hand on her face. It was very difficult for the teacher I work with to question the mother and then file paperwork to investigate the situation further. The mother was a volunteer at the school and was very involved in her kids lives. Her explanation for the bruise was that she had to hold her daughter down to give her some medicine. We were concerned when she said this because we didnt understand why she would hold her down so hard that a bruise would form on her face. I am extremely nervous about dealing with these situations, but I have come to accept that it is part of the job. I dont think I would have been able to handle these types of situations four years ago. I have met so many wonderful teachers through my field experiences and they all helped shed some light on how abuse is to be dealt with. I feel more prepared to handle these situations both mentally and emotionally. It really hurts to see the kids in your classroom suffering and they are so innocent and dont know how to tell someone what is going on. There are many different types of abuse that a teacher has to be aware of. There is physical abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect. Out of the four short years that I have been working in schools, I have seen neglect the most. Almost every classroom I have been in there has been one student who acts out because they want attention of any kind. It causes a huge disruption to the other students and hinders the learning experience. I witnessed a bad case of this at John Wayland Elementary. A boy was crying out for attention in the third grade classroom I was in because his mother had just gotten remarried and then pregnant with a new baby. It was

obvious that the mother was not a bad one, but she was caught up in her new life and not giving the boy the attention he needed. So my cooperating teacher took it upon herself to deal with his temper tantrums and give him as much of her attention as she could. I personally would have handled the situation differently, but that is what is great about teaching. Every teacher has a different way of doing things and has the chance to learn from others and create their own classroom management and teaching philosophy. For the most part I learned that I will not just be a teacher. I will more than likely have to be a motherly figure, a friend, a listening ear, an encourager, and a role model. I will have to put everything I have into each new group of students and to me this is what makes teaching so important. I have accepted that my heart will be broken frequently by my students, but also how deeply in love with my students I will fall each year. Teachers have to be extremely emotionally secure and ready to handle anything. I believe the teacher education program has helped me become emotionally mature and secure by allowing me to participate in so many classroom environments. The teachers that the education department has put me in contact with have taught me more than what was expected of them. Every teacher I have worked with was a woman and each one of them told me their feelings on being physically healthy not only for their students, but their families as well. This is something I have begun to take very seriously especially since I am getting married in six months. I consider myself a very hands-on teacher and I want to dive into projects with my students instead of standing to the side giving orders. In order to be able to keep up with my students I will need to be healthy and physically fit. I learned a lot about this in my wellness class during freshman year, but I didnt really take it seriously until junior year at Bridgewater. Almost all of my friends at Bridgewater are future

educators also and we have worked together to share information about eating healthy and fitness tips. I have stopped drinking soda except for on special occasions and I have tried replacing all my snacks during the day with fruits, veggies, and granola. I also make sure to eat breakfast in the morning to help kick start my metabolism. I have been trying new ways to stay active and I was pleased to find out this past semester that I actually like tennis. My wellness activity was a tennis course and it was really fun. I dont think I completely understand the scoring system, but thats not really important to me. It was really fun playing doubles with my friends in class and trying our hardest to keep the ball on the court. I am far from being a good tennis player, but I think the most important part is that I am staying active. One of the best parts of Bridgewaters goals for its students is for them to become involved in the community. I have taken this very seriously because I chose to make it an opportunity to continue working in classroom with students. Every service hour I have completed was done in a classroom or helping students in some way. While I was in high school I completed a mentorship at Plains Elementary school with Erica Gunden. She has been the best of mentors even after I graduated high school. We stayed in contact and every semester I go back to her classroom and spend an entire day helping her and her students. I know how important it is to have extra help in a classroom even if it is only for a day. Erica teaches kindergarten so an extra pair of eyes is almost essential. I would also help her get projects ready for the whole week so she wouldnt have to spend all of her time cutting out materials and such. Teachers use their whole work day trying to expand the minds of their students and preparing them for the rigorous state tests.

They also take the time to try to make their lessons interactive and fun for their students, which is not easy. Then when they get to leave school they go home and plan new lessons that will help their students who are struggling or just create new lessons because the old one doesnt work. If one person can help a teacher get a break for just one week they are eternally grateful. I choose to be that person for Erica because I see how hard she works every day to make her students the brightest they can be and then she goes home and continues working even though she is off the clock. I try to help get all her materials ready and set up for her when I am volunteering so that she can go home and actually relax. I soak in every piece of advice this woman has for me. She is an inspiration to me and I hope to one day be as great of a teacher as she is. Every service learning opportunity for me is more experience in the classroom and getting me closer to becoming a teacher. I have met so many students and gotten advice from dozens of educators, I am extremely grateful for the opportunities that Bridgewater gave me. Im not completely sure I would have focused my community service hours on education if I had gone to another college. The education department has helped me plan out my entire four years at Bridgewater and set me up as a great teaching candidate that an administrator would want to hire. My ultimate goal for the near future is obtaining a teaching job. I have been worrying myself sick about it for the past year and even more so now that I am getting married. My fianc has been working himself to the bone to keep our bills paid and I just want to get him some relief. We bought a house last February and my waitress salary has not really contributed that much to the house payment. Times are going to get even tougher for us since I will not be working during student teaching so I can focus completely on becoming the best teacher and

obtaining a teaching job immediately. He is counting on me to get a job right away and I plan on not letting him down. Ever since we got engaged we have been talking about our future plans as a family. We have even been talking about how we can make our careers even greater than we had originally planned. My fianc has moved up several times with the company he works with and is the youngest lead man and crane operator. Recently his boss asked him if he would be interested in going back to school to learn how to draft jobs. When he told me this news I felt like I should make better goals for myself as well. When the graduate school convocation came around I made sure to attend it and figure out my options. I then went to my advisor and asked what her thoughts would be. We then discussed that it would be a better idea to get a teaching job first and then get my masters after teaching for a few years. I then had to decide if I wanted to move up any farther than that and I have been considering if I would ever want to become a guidance counselor. I cant see myself becoming an administrator, but I think I could definitely work in guidance and help students who are struggling with home situations or emotional problems. I have always considered myself a fixer. People always seem to come to me for advice and I gladly take the time to sit down with them and help come up with solutions to their problems. One thing I truly regret about my Bridgewater experience was not becoming a student mentor. My communications professor referred me to Chip Studwell because she thought I would be a great mentor to incoming students. I was too nervous about guiding students and making mistakes so I did not go for the interview. I think this was my greatest mistake and I could have really helped students who needed guidance through their college experience.

I feel nervous about trying to obtain a masters degree in education and then a doctorates degree for guidance counseling, but I will need to get over my fears if I dont want to feel regretful. I have my whole life ahead of me to decide what I want to do to further my education and career, but I have decided that I want to do something more than just teach for the rest of my life. Before I can move forward with a higher education I believe I need to become the best teacher I can be. I want to learn as much as I can student teaching and continue to learn and grow if I am fortunate enough to get a teaching job. In Rockingham County new teachers are assigned a mentor and I will do everything possible to learn as much as I can from them, but also from the other teachers I will hopefully get to work with. I recently learned about vertical articulation which is used in schools to help teachers know what their students already know and what they need to know for the next academic year. I had never considered how important this was until we discussed it in my curriculum class. If teachers communicate with teachers only within their own grade level they will not know what the students have already learned. If teachers communicate with their students previous teachers to find out more about each students abilities and achievement they can set up their lessons around the knowledge they already have. To go even further a teacher can communicate with the teachers in the next grade level to understand those teachers expectations for incoming students so they can prepare them for the next year as well. I want to be a teacher that communicates with every other teacher so my students have the best learning experience possible. A teacher has to know everything about their students to help create a better learning plan for them. If a student comes in not know how to add even though they were supposed to learn how the previous year, you cannot simply move on. The

teacher would have to go back and take the time to teach that one student how to add before they could move onto subtraction or multiplication. I have learned that teaching is going to be extremely difficult and time consuming, but I wouldnt trade my career path for anything else. I have accepted what my responsibilities will be and I believe that Bridgewater has been the greatest motivator. The professors that I have worked with in the education department truly care about each future educator and want superior teachers to come out of the program. I am so proud to tell people that I have completed the teacher education program at Bridgewater because they know how difficult it is. I have never been pushed harder or challenged so intellectually. If I can make it through these four years, I believe I can make it through anything. It has not been an easy journey, but it has been a wonderful life changing experience.