EdCats Reach Out
Dean of the College of Education Debbie Mercer is no stranger to the fact that the first few years of teaching are a challenge. Nationally, half of all new teachers leave the profession within the first five years. Those who stick around are key. The top predictor of K-12 student success is teacher effectiveness. To address both of these crucial issues, Mercer announced the creation of the Office of Innovation & Collaboration.
The office initiated its work in the summer. EdCats, the office’s first program, began in early August. Designed as a support system for beginning teachers, EdCats provides free resources, including a newsletter, social media networking, and blogs run by three K-State College of Education graduates.
One blogger, Kelsey Scheuerman, is a middle school choir director in the Lansing USD 469 school district. Scheuerman first heard about this pilot program in March of 2015. “Dr. Martinez [Assistant Professor in the College of Education] posted on Facebook for anyone who wanted to blog [for the College of Education] to contact her and start the process,” said Scheuerman. “I was a first semester teacher and loved talking about my job, so I was excited for this opportunity. I found out in early April that I was selected to be a blogger.”
“My main goal is for studying education majors or beginning teachers to read my blog and feel like they are excited to teach and that there were opportunities for support through the K-State community,” said Scheuerman. “I feel that if students who are studying now can read a blog from a teacher who went through their same program with a similar background, that can help that teacher feel more supported.”
Scheuerman’s schedule is daunting. “I have the opportunity to teach five choirs in the curriculum, two music appreciation classes (seven total preps) plus I advise the 6th grade choir, the drama club, and the pep club,” writes Scheuerman from her blog. “I am never bored.”
The reward, however, comes from her students. “Seeing middle school kids get excited about something makes me excited for them to continue learning and experience new things,” said Scheuerman. “At this age, kids can get lost, so I feel it's important for them to connect with someone. I never thought I would teach middle school… but I absolutely love it.”
Scheuerman encourages other early career teachers to consider working with the Office of Innovation & Collaboration in any way they can. “You will be more reflective in your approach to teaching,” said Scheuerman. “I have realized that I love promoting teaching… I enjoy passing my life lessons on to others so they can enjoy teaching as much as I do!”
Scheuerman also advises students to seek out opportunities in the Manhattan community to broaden their teaching experience. During her time at K-State, Scheuerman worked with the Theodore Roosevelt Elementary Choir, the Manhattan Arts Center directing a children's choir for “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and the 1st Presbyterian Church children's music camp. Scheuerman emphasizes the importance of community engagement, as she said the experiences “allowed me to see real-life problems, not just made up problems for college classes... Things happen and you have to adapt while also protecting your kids and remaining professional. That can't be taught, it has to be experienced.”
To view Scheuerman’s blog, please go to http://www.kelseyscheuerman.com/