Class of 2016
Major: Secondary Biology Education
Hometown: East Chicago, Indiana
As Valpo grad Jacki Fernandez approaches her one-year anniversary teaching Biology at a high school, she reflects on how Valparaiso University’s Education Department prepared her for this career.
What was your job search like?
I didn’t have to do much searching because the school where I student taught had an open position.
How well prepared did you feel for your first year of teaching?
I feel like I was very well prepared to teach Biology, but not to handle the day-to-day events that are difficult to manage. For example, welcoming everyone into the class while monitoring the hallways effectively or attempting to answer 20 different questions while trying to take attendance and get everyone onto the same page. Over the last few months I have gotten better at this type of multitasking, but it always feels like you aren’t reaching every single student.
What did you learn from your fieldwork in the teacher preparation program?
Field work taught me the importance of observing what students do while teachers teach. It is very difficult to have 100% student attention 100% of the time. So, during my fieldwork I observed how students pretend to pay attention and in my classroom I always know when a student is doing something they are not supposed to be doing. Fieldwork really put into practice one of the questions in the conceptual framework of VU, who are my students. It taught me the importance of getting to know my students in order to teach them.
What is one thing you love about teaching?
There are many thing that I love about being a teacher. One of my favorite things about being a teacher is that it allows me to help mold the minds of my students. My position as a teacher helps me guide my students way beyond biology. In my classroom, we don’t just discuss biology we discuss actual life and students want to ask about events they see in the news and just have a discussion about. My goal every day is to be real with my students and they appreciate that.
Why did you choose to teach Biology?
Apart from my love for biology topics, I chose to teach biology because it allows students to connect with topics they never would have imagined. Most students don’t really care about science, but when I show them how biology directly involves them it creates an environment in which learning can happen. I love teaching biology.