It is difficult to believe that the fall semester is wrapping up and that I am already more than halfway through my program here at UPenn GSE.  My program is not your traditional master’s program. Our cohort met for the first time in July beginning our journey to become educators with a summer focused on literacy and understanding the communities where we teach. The summer months set the tone for what would become the whirlwind of my program. While going back to school in the middle of the summer, leaving the joy of long days at the beach and fun nights hanging out with friends, is not what one would typically describe as a great and worthwhile experience; the courses I engaged in those months were critical to my understanding of my community, in developing the needed skills  to start teaching in August, and feeling confident as I entered the classroom. Looking back at those two months,  it is baffling how much my beliefs grew and were shaped into actions in my classroom now.

The fall semester has been even more fast-paced and interesting than the summer. We started the fall semester by spending the whole first two weeks in our classroom where we teach. We got to see what the week before school officially starts looks like and then what the first week of school looks like. Looking back, I can recall just how nervous I was to begin my journey as a second-grade teacher. I felt the fears of not knowing enough content or enough theory, the concern of joining an already established teaching team and so many others. Those fears quickly melted away as I met my classroom mentor, the teacher who has welcomed me into her classroom in full force, then later the twenty-four wonderful, brilliant caring students I would get to call my class.  The fall semester has been intense, to say the least.  Between teaching two and a half days a week, taking six classes and making sure I leave time for myself, it has been busy, but a good busy. It’s been filled with interesting class discussions around the intersection of academic theory, race, and class; my first full lessons with my students; time spent getting to know my students and letting them know me, and many hours spent sitting somewhere surrounded by members of my cohort as we complete work and build on each other’s thoughts and ideas. 

Looking back over the past five months there have been many significant moments that have shaped me. The moment a student let out the “ahh” as they finally understood fractions during my math lesson, the moment I let out an “ahh” as I finally understood exactly what guided reading was and that it was something I could do successfully; the discussions surrounding race and class that occur during my Field seminar, and the many interesting speakers and educators I have gotten to meet and learn from during special topics, a weekly class where the topic and speaker is different each week. As I look back, it's hard to believe how much I have learned and grown in those five months but also how much more learning and growing I still must do. As I look forward to the spring semester, I look forward to being in my classroom more as I develop competency in the daily tasks of leading a classroom, the future discussions my cohort will have, and the inevitable lessons my students will teach me both about being an educator but also about being a person. When I enrolled in an accelerated master’s program, I knew it would go by fast but gosh I did not expect it to go by quite this fast. I can only guess just how fast May will be here bringing with it the end of this part of my teaching journey.