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Bethel has passionate education professors, offering their experiences and knowledge and instilled in me the passion to do the same.
Sharayah Williams ’10

Outcomes

When you graduate from Bethel with an elementary education major or your teacher licensure in another area, you take with you not only your degree but also Bethel’s reputation for educating excellent teachers.

Many of our graduates have received local, state and national teaching awards. At Bethel, you get the high-quality, specialized instruction available at large universities with the academic and lifestyle advantages of a small college.

Many Bethel College education graduates score 20 points over the “cut” score on the Principles of Learning and Teaching exam, the national teaching certification test. As a result, Bethel graduates are in great demand – some school systems even maintain a “standing order” for them.

Our education graduates have gone on to graduate school and voluntary service, as well as pursuing careers in:

  • Tutoring (e.g., Sylvan Learning Center, teaching English as a second language)
  • Classroom teaching in public and private school systems of all sizes
  • Administration (e.g., principal, assistant principal, superintendent)
  • School counseling
  • Coaching
  • Preschool and early childhood services
  • Camp counseling and camp directing
  • Special education, including Adapted Physical Education
  • Youth pastoring
  • Reading specialties
  • Bilingual education

Alumni

Annie Hasan ’06

Where do you teach?
Shawnee Mission School District (Kansas City metro area).
What do you currently teach?
Arabic level 1-8, grades 9-12.
What do you like the most about teaching?
My greatest enjoyment of teaching is exchange of information with the students and trying new activities in the classroom. The students like teaching just as much as I do, they just don’t know it. Finding out more about their interests and lives allows me to develop lessons and activities they would be interested in. It makes for a fun and successful day, when you simply listen to and learn from the students.
What is the most challenging for you?
I would have to say the most challenging part of teaching has been trying to manage four different levels of language in one room. I was not especially wild about Cooperative Learning until I began to live it. It began to be apparent I would need it as a tool to survive. This position (having to teach so many levels in the same classroom) has taught me that Cooperative Learning has been the most powerful teaching tool for this environment.
How did Bethel prepare you for what you teach?
I would say that the amount of required hours of observation was essential, and a full term of student teaching was imperative. The experience of needing to observe what you like in each classroom and apply it was so important to my success as a first-year teacher.
What advice would you give students at Bethel who are looking to go into education?
Collect, collect, collect. Use your jump drive as much as possible, no need to haul stacks of paper from place to place. Pick up as many ideas as you can from anywhere you can get them. Also, begin networking with other teachers who teach the same subjects so you can immediately begin to exchange ideas and provide support for one another. Finally, energy is contagious – if you have it, the kids will get it, too.

Victoria Janzen ’10

Where do you teach?
I taught Spanish I and II as well as an ESOL Resource Hour at McPherson High School for two years.
What do you like the most about teaching?
The thing I enjoy most about teaching is student interaction. I especially like being able to encourage them to make good choices (even if that means taking a calculus class). I like the flexibility I have to manage my own work environment. I am very organized and like to plan far in advance. I use these skills in my job every day.
What is the most challenging for you?
The most challenging part of [my second] year [was] trying to differentiate instruction. I [had] all types of learners in my classroom: visual, kinesthetic and auditory. It takes a lot of work to appeal to all the types of learners in your classroom. Some days I am not able to and go home really feeling like a first-year teacher, but that is how it goes.
How did Bethel prepare you for what you teach?
Bethel professors worked with me every step of the way to find placements in schools that were compatible with my interests. There is also a ton of paperwork related to getting a teaching license, and they navigated me through that process easily. I also appreciate that I was encouraged to take advantage of my liberal arts education. I took many classes unrelated to teaching or my teaching subject. I enjoyed them and am a better teacher as a result.
What advice would you give students at Bethel who are looking to go into education?
I found school placements to be a good experience and a way to determine if teaching was for me. Don’t judge simply by your education courses. Education is a great field where you get lots of time off and great benefits. However, when you are working you should plan to work long days, especially your first year. If you’re the kind of person who likes to work hard, but also play hard, teaching might be a good fit.

Megan (Klaassen) Kohlman ’08

Where do you teach?
I teach in Andover, Kan., at both Andover Middle School and Andover Central Middle School.
What do you currently teach?
I teach 6th (ACMS) and 7th (AMS) Language Arts. I also coach middle school track.
What do you like the most about teaching?
Building relationships with my kids is definitely the best part of teaching. These last even after they leave my classroom – when I see them in the halls or at a game, I love chatting about how things are going. As a coach, I get to see them grow up a little bit through seventh and eighth grades. It’s a very different environment than the classroom, so I get to know a side of my (former) students I didn’t see in class.
What is the most challenging for you?
The most challenging thing right now is traveling between two schools. The two buildings have different expectations, which can be tough to juggle. In the classroom, what’s most challenging for me is balancing the many different instructional strategies I learn about. I love to try new things, and I know that there are many different ways to reach my students; sometimes, though, it’s tough to balance what I know has worked in the past with the new ideas I want to try.
How did Bethel prepare you for what you teach?
Bethel prepared me to reflect on my teaching, to look at what works and what doesn’t, then adapt my instruction. The time I spent observing in many different classrooms also forced me to learn to be flexible; seeing and working with different teaching styles help me relate to and understand my co-workers.
What advice would you give students at Bethel who are looking to go into education?
My advice to students is to get into classrooms. Observe as many different teachers and different grade levels as you possibly can. The more time you spend with students, and watching others teach, the more you know that it is what you’re meant to do. And when you observe, offer to help. Teachers and students both love visitors who are involved and interacting.

Adam Robb ’05

Where do you teach?
Currently, I teach at Moundridge (Kan.) High School.
What do you currently teach?
Courses include Chemistry, Physics, Algebra II and Calculus, and I see students in grades 9-12.
What do you like the most about teaching?
The thing I like the most about teaching is the “aha” moment. When a student is learning new material, it can often be a struggle. But for most students, there is a point at which they say “Aha, I understand!” or “Aha, I can do it!” I love my job during these experiences, because a student completely changes – they leave the role of learner (if only for a moment), and take the role of expert, often immediately becoming more involved and/or willing to participate in class and with other students.
What is the most challenging for you?
The most challenging part of teaching for me is that I simply cannot spend enough one-on-one time with each of my students. From the most gifted to the most struggling, I would love to be able to devote more attention to each of my students to help better meet their needs, and to be able to understand and enjoy them better as individuals, not just learners.
How did Bethel prepare you for what you teach?
Obviously, the courses I took at Bethel, both in my major concentration (chemistry and physics) and in education prepared me incredibly well for my teaching assignment. On a deeper level, being part of a caring community of teachers and learners provided a great model for how to run a classroom, how to interact with peers and how to reflect on the entire experience of teaching. Bethel truly is a place that shapes the person, while allowing each person to help shape Bethel, even if only a small bit.
What advice would you give students at Bethel who are looking to go into education?
The biggest piece of advice I would give is to focus on both the means and the end. While becoming a master teacher might be the goal, you must take many steps along the way to get there. Some steps are bigger than others, some more comfortable, but each becomes equally important to achieve that goal. Along with this, I would encourage all prospective teachers to establish a network of support – current students, current teachers, former teachers – so that when there are needs, there are always resources available to meet these needs.

Mariah Thompson ’05

Where do you teach, and what do you currently teach?
I teach in McPherson in an SMD class – Severe and Multiple Disabilities – K-5.
What do you like the most about teaching?
I love to see my students succeed. They (we) may practice and work on the same thing for months and then one day they get it. And we get to celebrate everything, big and small.
What is the most challenging for you?
My biggest challenge was starting school without a classroom. I was teaching in the office conference room and storing my stuff in the ISS room. And my classroom had nothing in it. There were no shapes, no colors, no educational toys. I had to make a lot of things for my students to do.
How did Bethel prepare you for what you teach?
Bethel gave me support and encouragement to follow my dreams. It took me a while to figure out what I was called to do. So many of the classes put reasons, causes and the information behind so many things I had been doing in teaching, making everything that much clearer. The information given in Psychological Foundations of Education totally explains one of my student’s behaviors, the reason behind meltdowns.
What advice would you give students at Bethel who are looking to go into education?
Bethel has some great resources within its faculty – use them!

Sharayah Williams ’10

Where do you teach, and what do you currently teach?
I teach 4th grade at Slate Creek Elementary in Newton.
What do you like the most about teaching?
When anyone asks me what my favorite part about teaching is, I usually end up ranting for 40 minutes, giving anecdotes and quotes, gushing about how exciting and clever “my” kiddos are. I love that I can come in every day and have no clue what will happen, even when I’ve got the best lesson plans laid out. I love getting to know my students so well that I can tell just by a look or flick of the eyes whether they get it, feel lost, were hurt by a friend or are having troubles at home. I like that they get to know me better also and can tell when I need a hug, or that “Ms. Williams is mad! Her arms are crossed!” And that I can laugh out loud and be silly with them as well, when we’re playing a group game or going on a walk at recess. So of course, when it comes down to it, what I like most about teaching is the students. All 25 of them. Each one individually.
What is the most challenging for you?

The biggest challenge: the weather. Haha. Really, though, I have become a firm believer that a change in barometer means a change in my classroom climate as well. Storm front equals crazy kids.

Actually the biggest challenge is my attitude and resulting actions. When I am positive and calm, even when I’ve given directions for the fifth time, or after I’ve had to take a child aside to change a behavior, it seems obvious, but the results are usually a classroom of productive and respectful students. If I’m grumpy and I raise my voice, the students only get louder. If I’m tired and stressed and my voice hinges on sarcasm, the students don’t hear the lesson, they only hear the negative and wind up unable to answer any of the homework questions. I’ve come to expect “Wild Wednesdays” but if I just assume they won’t meet my expectations that day, the result is an even wilder and less productive day, because I wasn’t changing my thoughts from “low expectations” to “realistic expectations.” There is a difference.

How did Bethel prepare you for what you teach?
Bethel has passionate education professors, offering their experiences and knowledge and instilled in me the passion to do the same. I know in college my classmates and I would sometimes roll our eyes as we wrote yet another “Reflective Teacher Reflection,” but now I chuckle and whisper a sincere “thank you” each time I sit at my desk and realize that I’m reflecting on yesterday’s failures and successes to determine tomorrow’s lessons. I believe that reflection can be done by everyone; it isn’t necessarily a difficult task. But Bethel teaches it as a skill until it becomes a natural practice.
What advice would you give students at Bethel who are looking to go into education?

In any and all school observations, take in everything. Notice how the room is set up, quiet signals, how the teacher relates to students, even how things are organized and stored. This was a huge challenge at the beginning of the year when I just didn’t know what to do with all the books and papers and folders I had.

Make an honest effort to reflect on these observations. If not for the credit of the class, at least for yourself. Note how you might have handled things differently. When you find yourself thinking of these things automatically, you’re already on your way to becoming a teacher.

Know that creating and teaching lessons and classroom management probably will not come easy. It doesn’t while you’re practicing in a methods class. It won’t when you’re student teaching. And it still might not during your first, second, 10th year of teaching. (I don’t really know about that last one – I’m only guessing.) And that is OK. I know it sounds cliché, but really, I have to remind myself constantly to not be so hard on myself. Every mistake is a chance to get better. And mess up I do.