M.Ed. ’17, UT Urban Teachers Program, Department of Curriculum and Instruction
English I Educator, English Department Chair
LBJ Early College High School, Austin ISD
My program encouraged the use of a teaching journal, in-depth lesson planning, and provided me the opportunity to work with and teach students often. Having this kind of hands-on experience made my transition into the classroom a very smooth one. Within my first year, I was able to become the English Department Chair and the 2018 Teacher of Promise at my school. The College of Education provided me with the tools I needed to become a successful educator from the very start.Alexandria Smith
How did your program in the College of Education prepare you?
I knew I wanted to be a teacher, I knew what philosophies I held, but I didn’t know how to be a teacher. The Urban Teachers Master’s Program taught me that. It helped me merge the theoretical work I’d been reading and writing about for years into practice. The faculty, course texts, and professional development encouraged me to be an adaptive, reflective educator and pushed me to assist students in becoming the civically minded, knowledgeable students of the world I always hoped I could help them be.
Are there particular courses or projects during your time at UT that stand out?
In Anthony Brown’s Multicultural Curriculum and Teaching, our final project was about how our own cultural histories and backgrounds shaped our teaching philosophies. In Allison Skerrett’s Literacy and Social Change course, we conducted an equity audit and a teacher research project proposal in which I was forced to contend with ideas about what it would mean to be a Black teacher in Austin. I continue to use these ideals to create an equitable space for my students in my classroom. My teaching practicum class taught by Deb Kelt gave me skills I could implement in my classroom. Through professional development, lesson planning, and getting to take over a teacher’s full schedule during student teaching, I saw what it means to be a teacher full time.
What do you like most about your work?
I love to work and build relationships with my students. The students at my school are some of the brightest, most loving, charismatic, and resilient people I have ever encountered.
What has been most surprising to you about your career path?
That I have also been able to find success in education outside the classroom. My professors at UT always taught us to make a space for ourselves in our schools, to speak up for our children, to take leadership positions. I’ve been able to do the same outside of school. I presented at NCTE in 2018 with Allison, and we’ll present at the conference this fall. I was also given the opportunity to speak at the college’s Pinning Ceremony this spring. I’m hoping that I will continue to be able to speak about what I learned at UT and how it has so positively affected my teaching.