Dr. Therese (Terry) Shanahan delivered a heartfelt address to the 2018 CalTeach graduating class as she prepares to retire from full-time engagement in UCI's CalTeach Science and Math program, (Fortunately for UCI, Dr. Shanahan will be returning part-time next fall to supervise CalTeach students during their classroom teaching experiences.)
June 15, 2018
Yosemite Ballroom, UC Irvine
Dr. Therese Shanahan
There is so much I want to tell you. So much still unsaid.
We have come to this moment in time via different paths, and after this moment, our paths will once more diverge. But right now, we are here together, gathered together for one last time.
Although you have different needs, my apologies that I am not going to differentiate this talk. This is a "one size fits all" talk, but maybe, just maybe, you will hear different things that you can take away with you as you begin the best career in the world: making a difference in the lives of children.
Instead of letting you discover some of the following ideas on your own, I am going to share a few that have helped me in my 39 years of teaching.
In Physical Science 5/Biological Science 14, our Introduction to Teaching Class, you learned about the five Es, the lesson plan template we use to promote student engagement in learning.
In Classroom Interactions, ED 143A, we learned about the five "Practices for Productive Discussion in Math and Science." In Classroom Interactions, we also discussed Liping Ma's four Cs: collaboration, concepts, consciousness, and connections.
Since we are used to numbers of letters in CalTeach, I am going to share Terry's Ten Cs for a rewarding teaching career. Pay attention, because there will be a test later.
To be a happy, successful teacher, you need to:
1. Collaborate: with teachers in your department and in other departments as well as with parents. If you are lucky enough, you might find someone as smart, talented, and generous as Kris [Houston, Master Teacher for Mathematics] as a collaborator. Work with others so that you are working together for the benefit of the children you teach.
2. Communicate: be sure to talk to colleagues when you are having trouble, share your challenges and your successes with them. Be sure to communicate with Kris if you need lesson ideas in math. She is a great resource and is very generous in sharing her lessons.
3. Create: lessons that meet the needs of your students and offer them multiple ways to engage in concepts, multiple ways to represent their understanding.
4. Connect: with your students. Get to know them, their strengths, their interests, their families. It is only when you connect with your students on a personal level that they will want to learn from you.
5. Challenge: yourselves to be the best version of yourself as a teacher. Do not listen to the siren call of your colleagues in the teachers' room as they complain about Common Core Math and NGSS. You know that the students learn best when they are active, when they are talking to each other. So, continue to strive for greatness in yourself and in your students. Keep our CalTeach vision of good teaching in your brain and in your heart.
6. Choose: to have a positive mindset. You can do great things as a teacher as long as you see possibilities for yourself and your students. Don't be discouraged or defeated. At the same time, choose to have balance in your lives. Rest. Play. Eat well. Take care of your bodies. Spend time with your family and friends so that you keep your batteries charged.
7. Commit: to excellence, which is not a destination, but a way of being, every day.
8. Continue: to be life-long learners. Continue your membership in your professional organization: NCTM or NSTA. Go to conferences. Be intentional in the professional development that you attend. Get the most out of good ideas that others share with you and find ways to incorporate these into your lessons. Learn from your students--in the end, they are your best teachers.
All of the above have been verbs, but here is a noun:
9. Comedy: laugh often, laugh at yourself, laugh in the face of hardship. Laugh in good times and in bad. The chemicals that laughing releases in your brain are good for you. Research shows that laughing out loud is especially beneficial.
Finally, here is a two-fer.
10. Stay Calm and Carry-on: you have shown Kris and me that you are going to be effective teachers. When you get stuck, think: What would Kris do? What would Terry do? Do that and you probably will not go wrong.
Teaching is not a job. It is a way of life. Kris will tell you she gets great ideas for lessons while driving to work. I get mine when I take a shower and sometimes when I am just waking up. When you are a teacher, you cannot turn off your brain. You are always searching for phenomena or teaching ideas while you are hiking or grocery shopping.
Finally, it has been a joy to be with you the last few years watching you grow into being the best teachers you can be at this moment in time. I am excited for you to begin your new journey. It definitely will be a roller coaster ride for you with many highs and lows. This is hard, but you can do hard things.
Oh, and the test I promised you? That is coming the day you walk into your own classroom.
Good luck. I will carry you in my heart from this moment forward.
Now, let's CELEBRATE!