Sunday, June 4, 2023

Education majors' futures as teachers comes with terms and conditions

March 23, 2023
Students leaving the Education Building on March 2, 2023.
Students leaving the Education Building on March 2, 2023. —
Photo by Zari Dixson | The State News

When a mass shooting caused Michigan State University to halt operations for a week, discourse and political advocacy surrounded school safety while some wondered if they could ever feel safe in a classroom again. 

Several education majors interviewed by The State News shared a consensus: they aren't changing their minds about spending everyday of their career in a classroom, but they wish for change to make schools a safer environment. 

Early education freshman Hayden Braun plans to teach young children someday. It's a plan he's had for quite some time because he wants to positively influence the next generation. This hasn't changed since the tragedy.

“It’s horrible, the things that are going on, but I think in my mind, the community needs educators," Braun said. "The tragedies are horrible but I don’t want people who spread chaos and do these senseless attacks to necessarily win.”

Secondary education and math junior Claire Ackerman began college solely as a math major. After she landed a role as an undergraduate learning assistant in the math department, she realized that she has a passion for teaching. Now she wants to become a high school math teacher in the future.

However, immediately following the shooting, Ackerman began to second-guess her future, contemplating whether or not being in a classroom for the rest of her life would come with fear.

“I almost felt like I had escaped it and then I was like, ‘Oh no, I really didn't, because I’m putting myself right back in this very scary situation,’” Ackerman said.

Mathematics for secondary education freshman Lydia Boggs has always loved working with kids and has realized that whatever she does in her life, she wants to help people. She wants to teach geometry, algebra or precalculus to high school students.

Boggs understands that the shooting has been extremely difficult for the students but she said people must support the educators that have shown support for the community — and have risked their mental health in the process.

“With everything that’s happened, I think it just gives us a stronger need to have really good teachers in the classroom to really support students and help them get through this currently very rough world that we're living in,” Boggs said.

Ackerman said that the “amount of passion and pleasure” that she derives from teaching “couldn’t be beaten by anything.” But she wants change in how schools respond to and prepare for threats.

She can only imagine herself teaching at a school that is "secure." She envisions this as a campus that has a therapist present and bulletproof doors. She said her main focus would be to make sure the student’s safety is a higher priority than hers.

Positive messages on the doors of the Education Building on March 2, 2023.

Boggs also believes implementing more safety features will help her feel secure when teaching. For her, this looks like a system where “whoever comes into the building has to check in so (the administration) knows who’s in the building at all times,” and ensuring each door has L-shaped metal locks. 

The passion Braun has for teaching and the care he has for his future students outweighs any fear he has, he said. But he wants to see the government implement stricter gun laws and also wants each individual to personally create positive change.

“People in power really need to start thinking about what they’re doing. If you care about your students, you care about (them) enough to take guns out of school and not let this keep happening,” Braun said. 

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