This has been a weird semester because I am sadly not taking any Ed Studies courses. However, this semester I have had the amazing opportunity to be a peer mentor for one of the Core 101 classes here at St. Mary’s, which has provided a new perspective in classroom leadership. Every first-year student at St. Mary’s College of Maryland takes a first year seminar, known as Core 101. The Core classes meet four criteria in their curriculum: Written Expression, Oral Expressions, Information Literacy, and Critical Thinking. When I was a first year, my class was based on Misconceptions of the Human Mind, and the class I am a peer mentor for is called “Food for Thought” where we discuss (and MAKE/EAT!) food in literature, art, and film. Core classes are fun, and they are based on interesting topics.. Every first-year seminar class has a peer mentor, an advance undergraduate student that provides advice to students on items outside the classroom, as well as inside the classroom.
I would suggest to any student thinking about becoming a secondary (especially high school) teacher to become a peer mentor. This position has great responsibility in assisting first year students with the transition to college life. The mentor leads discussions, leads extra-curricular activities, and provides advice to all of their mentees. It is similar to having a placement—having the supervision of a faculty member—but with peers (thus, working with older students).
Luckily, I have a pretty amazing Professor I work with: Jessica Lustig of the Theater, Film, and Media Studies Department. Professor Lustig allows me to lead discussions and lectures, while providing feedback on certain lessons. She also allows me to sit in while planning her lessons, involving the learning goals for each assignment or discussion. Further, she provides me the opportunity to review drafts of students work—if they so choose to have it reviewed. As a future English teacher, it is fascinating to see the immense amount of growth between the brainstorming of ideas to the final perfected copy. Even if I am answering emails and texts at one in the morning, I want to be a teacher that is available. It’s always worth staying up late to help someone!
I also have to admit, my mentees are pretty amazing, and their growth from first-semester students has become very rewarding. Life lessons may also be incorporated from the course, like taking a field trip to Washington, DC, and learning how to travel on a budget as a college student. These rewards easily make it worth the time spent on reading and planning for the course, and I cannot wait to have these rewards as a future teacher. I’m very excited to see what the rest of this semester holds for this unique opportunity.
If you are interested in this program, check out this link: http://www.smcm.edu/corecurriculum/FYS/PeerMentor.html