Tag Archives: student teaching

Alumni Profile: Michael Albright, Ph.D

Michael Albright, Ph.D. graduated from Millersville University in 2006. Read more about his professional journey after his undergraduate experience below! 

Dr. Michael Albright

When I began my undergraduate career at Millersville, I had intended to graduate with a BSE in English to become a high school teacher. Four years later in 2006, I graduated with my BSE, a BA in English, and a minor in French.

Millersville occupies a special place for me professionally and personally. Not only did I learn the craft of teaching, but also I benefited from the wisdom and dedication of dedicated scholars in literature, English education, and linguistics. I thrived in the classroom as a student and knew that in order to be a successful teacher, I had much more to learn in my discipline.

In 2006, I began my graduate career at Lehigh University in Bethlehem where I obtained both my MA and Ph.D. My dissertation focused on the dramatic representation of schoolmasters in Early Modern English drama, and I considered how their staging reflected or shaped emergent conceptions of professionalization.

Throughout my seven years at Lehigh, I was able to remain in the classroom as a teacher of composition, and I also began tutoring in the Writing Center. I knew that teaching would always be a priority for me professionally, so I actively sought opportunities to work with students during the academic year and in the summers.

Because the job market in higher education took a hit during my time at Lehigh, I made it a point to keep my PA certification in secondary education current. I also applied widely to public and independent schools, eventually securing a position as a teacher of concurrent enrollment English in rural Virginia. This opportunity led to a two-year stint as a concurrent enrollment teacher at a public residential STEM school in South Carolina.

Dr. Albright participating on a roundtable on concurrent enrollment at a recent Minnesota Writing and English conference (MnWE).

In 2016, I made the move to higher education. I am now in my fourth year of a tenure-track assistant professorship at Southwest Minnesota State University. I am primarily responsible for working within our University’s concurrent enrollment program called College Now, and I support about twenty different high school teachers per semester. In addition, I serve on various committees, teach on campus and online when asked, and engage in research.

I would not find myself where I am today had I not kept an open mind about teaching in different settings or roles. As an undergrad, I had no idea about concurrent enrollment, yet I always knew that I wanted to occupy a place in secondary or higher education. Now, I enjoy the best of both worlds.

Millersville’s dedication to teacher training and its commitment to staffing classes with professors provided me a strong professional and scholarly background that has supported a host of exciting career moves.

-Michael Albright, Ph.D.

Student Teaching

Mariah Miller wrote an article about her experiences student teaching. Read more below to learn what to expect!

Mariah Miller with her team during Halloween

I never thought I’d be someone who would get excited to be awake at 5:30am. Student teaching has done that for me. Every morning I get up, get ready, and head off to teach 7th grade English Language Arts at Conestoga Valley Middle School. As an English education major, this is the capstone of my entire college career. Everything that I’ve done has led up to this experience. It’s almost surreal to think about, in a sense.

I didn’t always want to be a teacher. I went back and forth between multiple majors for some time. For a semester, I majored in Biology, then switched to undecided, and then went back to English Education. Why did I choose to become a teacher? Mainly, I just want to teach students how to be good people. If I can teach one student how to be a genuinely good person, I’ll know I’ve succeeded. The thing about being an educator is that you are teaching the students so much more than just your subject area entails. You’re there to help them grow not just as as learners, but as productive people in society. Teaching is not an easy job to have, despite what some people think. Here are some of the things I’ve learned so far during my Student Teaching semester:

  1. There is so much more to teaching than you think. You’re constantly thinking, changing plans, and adapting. You have to manage the classroom while simultaneously thinking on your feet. Kids will ask you questions that you did not even think would be on their radar. In order to counteract the everyday spontaneity of being a teacher, over prepare and organize. You can never prepare too many activities, or think of too many ways that students could misunderstand. Put yourself in your students’ shoes. What questions would you have about this activity/assignment if you were this student? Outside of the classroom, keep an agenda and calendar with all of the important assignments/lessons you will have to do. You’ll thank yourself later.
  2. Learning in college classes what teaching is and actually teaching are two entirely different ball games. Of course, the theories and methods are important, but remembering that these are actual individuals with their own unique backgrounds is more important. I can’t stress it enough – get to know your students first and foremost. If you don’t establish rapport with students, it’s almost impossible to get them to want to learn. Your classroom environment is so much stronger when learners know that you care about them and want them to succeed. They’re not afraid to fail when they know you are there to catch them when they do.
  3. You can’t predict what is going to happen on a daily basis. You may have a plan, but that plan may fall flat and you will have to improvise on the spot. Don’t be afraid to try new things, because your mentor will be there to help you! It’s ok for things to not work out because it’s a learning experience. Failure = growth!
  4. Don’t be afraid to reach out for support. If you find yourself struggling, ask for help. You have so many people around who want you to succeed.
  5. It’s not as scary as you probably think it is. Throughout your professional bloc, you will pick up on the ins and outs of your school/classroom (using the printer, taking attendance, organizing student work, grading, disciplining, managing the classroom, etc.). When you start your student teaching semester, your first main focus is integrating yourself back into the classroom. Your mentor won’t just throw you to the sharks without any support. You gradually ease into taking over the classroom.

Lastly, I’ve learned to just have fun and enjoy this valuable time of my developing professional career. It may seem like a semester is a long time, but it flies by when you’re the one teaching. Student teaching has made me more excited than ever to have a classroom of my own one day. I’ve never been so sure of a career in my life. As you take the next step into student teaching, remember these words. I promise they will help to guide you and make student teaching one of the best experiences of your life.

-Mariah Miller

Do you have any advice for student teachers or any experiences other students could benefit from about student teaching? If so, contact Rachel Hicks with your story.

Alumna Profile: Sherri Weaver

Sherri Weaver
Sherri Weaver

Sherri Weaver graduated from Millersville University in 2009 with a Bachelors of Science in Education (BSE) in English. While at Millersville, Sherri took every opportunity to make sure she was getting the kind of education she wanted.  As a BSE student, teaching placements began sophomore year, something Sherri was very thankful for; she now sees the value in getting into the classroom as soon as possible. She first student taught at Lincoln Middle School working with 6th graders. While in her own classroom at Millersville, the classes were theory heavy, so from her schoolwork alone it would be hard to determine if teaching was the right career path; the sophomore placements eased much of that anxiety. Sherri also student taught at Lampeter-Strasburg, working with seniors in AP English and then taught 8th grade at Hand Middle School.

After receiving her undergrad degree, Sherri earned her first teaching job working with AP seniors at a charter school in York. Unfortunately, after Sherri worked there for 5 years, the school lost its charter. This taught Sherri about educational finance and handling of money in a charter; she eventually wrote her master’s thesis on charter school reform. After moving from that school, Sherri worked at Wheatland Middle School for eight months teaching 7th graders before moving to McCaskey East High School where she currently teaches.

To Sherri, the college experience is about getting the education you want. That might mean taking the more challenging classes on purpose and putting in the time and energy to succeed. Sherri found the upper-level college classes imperative to teach any upper level high school classes successfully. Similarly, because Sherri knew where she wanted to teach, in an urban environment, she fought for the placements and jobs that would fit her ideal working environment. That meant changing placements when she was assigned to non-urban areas and working with the university to make her plans possible.

One thing Sherri knows from being a student teacher herself and working with Professional Development Schools (PDS) and new student teachers is that it is important to have self-awareness and the ability to reflect on the people you will be working with. It’s okay to be picky to get the best experience out of student teaching.