Every college graduate has to face that terrifying task of applying for jobs. During the search and apply process, many of us start to wonder if we are qualified for the jobs that we want. We have an ounce, or perhaps a mountain, of doubt in our own abilities, and we start to wonder if we have actually learned enough to go out and pursue the job we have been preparing for during our studies. For a student entering the current job economy, this is a frightening thought. For a Fairhaven student who designed their own major, our qualifications are even more of a question mark, and during those last few months of our college career we find ourselves asking questions such as the following: “Did we leave something out?” “How can we explain our concentration to perspective employers?” “What if we are not qualified for any job in our field?”
I recently experienced a shocking discover about my own education. When I began searching for jobs a few months ago I encountered several available positions for a lead teacher at an alternative preschool or kindergarten. Among the list of expected duties for these positions was “plan and implement a developmentally appropriate curriculum.” This is standard, for a preschool, or any school really. But I suddenly realized that in my 100 credit concentration, in my three years at WWU, something was missing; I had not learned how to make a lesson plan.
I panicked. I mentally went through all the classes I had been in. I wondered how I had missed this, how my writing advisor, two committee members, and concentration chair had missed this. My goals included being a teacher, designing a school, and running a school, all of which include the necessary skill of lesson planning. What was I thinking?
I did what I always do when there is a gap in my education, I decided to teach myself as soon as I had time. I would research and practice creating lesson plans after graduation, when I would have plenty of free time before starting a teaching job in the fall. I wasn’t too worried, just a little upset with myself for missing this important piece.
Confident in my ability to teach myself how to make a lesson plan, I begin my application for various schools. After all, if I did get a teaching job I would have the whole summer to practice creating lessons. After completing my resume and a cover letter, I was ready to send in my first application to a co-operative kindergarten in Seattle. I double checked the list of application materials and my heart dropped to my stomach, the application required a week’s worth of developmentally appropriate lesson plans. Well, I guess this application is on hold.
Today, I sat down to brainstorm ideas. I began with a list of possible lessons, ideas to explore, and mediums (such as drawing, singing, physical exploration, or storytelling) through which to explore the lessons. As my thoughts unfolded I glanced at the page and noticed that a pattern was occurring, I had created a series of lesson plans based on a nature theme. Included in my series of lessons was art (visual, dance, and music), science and nature, exploration/outside time, sensory activities, and language (reading, writing, and storytelling). The lessons were not divided by subject, but rather woven together to create an integrated curriculum in which the seasons are explored through dance, the forest is explored through drawing and painting, and other ideas are explored through storytelling, song, and poems. This is when I realized that my lesson plans were the unfolding of the last two years of my college education. Through observation of schools, conversations with school owners and teachers, exploration of different arts, and one very important dance education class, I had picked up all the tools that I needed to design a comprehensive set of lessons. My ideas came together seamlessly and without stress. It turns out that I had, in an unconventional way, gathered the tools I needed to create a lesson.
This discovery not only reaffirms my faith in my own education, but it shows me something deeper. It strengthens my belief in alternative education and the kind of teaching and learning that I am striving to bring to the current education world. It shows me that through an experiential self-designed education we can gain the tools we need to be successful, perhaps without even realizing it.
To all of my fellow Fairhaven Spring graduates I would like to say, trust in your education and in yourself. Instead of sitting and worrying, “can I do this?” just do it. The results will speak for themselves.