Lynn Geyer is a junior from Coventry, Rhode Island. On campus, she is involved in Gamma Sigma Sigma service sorority and TOPSoccer adaptive sports. This week, Geyer shared insight into her experience as an English and Secondary Education double major at Clemson.
As an English and Secondary Education major, what does your course work entail? (ie. specific courses and curriculum)
One of the major differences between my major and English is that we have to take three out of the four survey courses (Brit Lit I and II, American Lit I and II). There are also several mandatory education classes that we are required to take, including Intro to Education (ED1050), Principles of American Education (ED3010), Educational Psychology (EDF3020), Adolescent Growth and Development (EDF3350), and, specifically for the English path, Practicum in Secondary English (EDSC3240). In addition to these education classes, we also attend several practicums, where we are placed in nearby middle and high schools. Here, we get to observe student and teacher interactions.
In your major you are required to take three survey courses; whereas, an English major is required to take two. How have these courses influenced the way you perceive your future self as an English teacher (in terms of planning a curriculum, facilitating discussion, etc.)?
I feel like I have a much stronger handle on the connectivity of different works in different time periods. For example, I took both Brit Lit I and II; taking both of these classes has helped me to see the flow of literature over time and how certain themes can be traced over the course of time, specifically observing how they develop and change. Through being able to have a stronger view of the big picture in both British and American literature, I can help my future students see how literature changes through time.
Your major requires you to complete 100 field hours prior to student teaching. What have your experiences been like thus far?
Field placements are always interesting because you are never prepared for how the experience will be. Each school, each teacher, each grade level, and especially each group of students pose different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to teaching. Each classroom is different, and each teacher has a different style of teaching. Most notably, a classroom of students can be vastly different, even if they are from the same school. I enjoy the different field placements, as I get to see different behaviors from the students, different strategies from the teachers, and different classroom management strategies, all of which help me to decide what I want to do when I have my own classroom.
In your classes, what is the most important concept you have learned about being a successful English teacher?
This is a tricky question, because up until the professional level, all of the education classes are not emphasis-based, meaning that the majority of my education classes have been shared with elementary, math, science, and special education majors. However, these education classes, combined with my experiences in my field placements, have opened my eyes and helped me to consider what type of teacher I want to be. More than anything, I want to help my students think for themselves, along with formulating and valuing their own opinions. I do not want to be the type of English teacher that tells her students what to think about a story, or tells them the specific meaning of a poem without giving them a chance to work it out for themselves. The beauty of literature is that it is open to interpretation. I want to be the teacher that encourages different interpretations, instead of pigeon-holing all interpretations into a singular “correct” one.
Where do you hope to be in five years?
Teaching in my very own English classroom! I’d love to teach 12th graders because I love the complex texts the older students get to work with. Examining novels like The Great Gatsby, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Shakespearean plays was my favorite part of high school, and I can’t wait to pass that joy down to other students! Also, I really want my students to learn that Shakespeare really isn’t as scary as it is made out to be.
Written by: Carter Smith