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Gabriela Ruiz

Yakima, Washington
BA, Spanish – Brigham Young University
"My cohort is absolutely full of the most amazing people with whom I have ever had the opportunity to work."

Why do you want to become a teacher?

I've always known that I wanted to become a teacher. When I was in 5th grade we did a unit on careers and I chose teacher for my career. My fifth grade teacher, Mr. Allen, even let me teach portions of the math unit when we were learning fractions. I liked being at the front of the class with the rest of my peers and trying to use my best "teacher voice" so they could all hear me. I knew then that I wanted to be a teacher and even as I worked through my undergrad, I contemplated the idea of finishing my degree in Spanish Teaching. I was actually accepted to the program but I ended up switching my major to Spanish and minoring in Business, just in case down the road I changed my mind.

Throughout high school and during the summers of my undergrad I taught swimming lessons at the local pool. I taught all levels and all ages. I really enjoyed the daily interaction with students and seeing how as they progressed, they slowly developed more and more confidence in the water. I think teaching in a classroom is similar, in that the goal as a teacher is to help students progress and gain a skill set that will help them to be more confident in the real world. One of the biggest challenges of being a teacher is that students in your class will rarely be at the same level of performance. The challenge comes in trying to adapt to everybody's unique learning style. I love this part of teaching because it makes everyday a new challenge.

What sold you on Ohio State’s Master of Education program?

I started researching teaching programs across the states. After I finished my undergrad at BYU, I worked as a Sales Representative for a SaaS company in Provo, UT. I liked the challenge of working in a fast-paced environment, but after a couple of months, I realized I liked what I was doing but I didn't love it. I started to do a lot of reflecting and remembered how much fun I had teaching swimming lessons in the summers during my undergrad. Working for this company in Provo helped me gain a lot of useful skills in communication, collaboration and developing leader-like qualities--all of which I know I will use as a teacher one day.

I learned about the program while doing research on a few schools. I had heard that the state of Ohio has some of the highest teaching standards in the nation so I was very interested when I learned about the program Ohio State offers. I met with Dr. Francis Troyan to ask a few questions about the program in regards to cost, quality, employment post-graduation, the material covered in courses, etc. We talked for over an hour, and needless to say, he said all the right things to help convince me that this was indeed one of the best teaching programs offered. I was also very drawn to the idea of completing my master's program in a year so I began the application process.

How do the teaching experiences of professors impact your learning?

I have noticed that the professors here do a phenomenal job building rapport with their students. I feel comfortable approaching professors with questions or concerns. I feel like their ability to create a safe environment in which we feel like we can be open and express ourselves has helped us as students in discussions to more freely make comments in class. I learn a lot from the questions and comments my classmates make.

What have you learned from your student teaching and observations?

So far, I have only been in my placement school for about two months and I feel as though I am a part of the classroom. It's hard not to feel included when students come up to me and ask why I wasn't in class on Friday or hug me and ask me if I'm coming back tomorrow. I have learned that building rapport with students is one of the most essential aspects of teaching because you need students to respect you but they can only do that if they feel like they can trust you and if they feel like you care. I have also learned to identify students who might need a little more help in certain areas and different ways to break down concepts to these students. I'm not student teaching yet, but I do have the opportunity to help students when they work on small-group work.

photo of female Ohio State student

How important has your teacher mentor been to your MEd program?

My mentor teacher has been phenomenal! She really puts time into the things that matter and takes time to plan lessons carefully. I see how much effort she puts into each activity and her creativity is really inspiring. She's really good at finding unique ways to reach students with different learning styles. I've actually started to make extra copies of worksheets and take extensive notes on activities so I can use them myself when I have my own classroom.

I really appreciate that my mentor teacher and I work really well together and have developed a good relationship because I feel like she's more open to suggestions I make when she asks for my feedback in class. She also does a good job integrating me into the classroom by giving me opportunities to work one-on-one with students, help design activities for lessons and help with the grading. All of these things help me to be able to understand the level of each student so I can help think of ways to help them.

How would you describe your classmates?

My cohort is absolutely full of the most amazing people with whom I have ever had the opportunity to work. I'm not sure if this group in particular is just incredible or if all people who do a MEd in World Language Teaching are just incredible. One of my favorite dynamics of this group is that they know how to work together and I feel like each person in the program has everyone's best interest in mind. We created a group chat on Facebook where we communicate on a daily basis to ask for help on assignments, ask questions, let others know about announcements or simply to talk about our day. I look forward to working on projects with them because everybody has a different skill or talent to contribute, so no matter who is in my group, I know we will share the work equally and we'll learn from one another.

What have you discovered about Columbus that makes it great?

I'm still discovering Columbus. To be honest I spend so much time doing school work and working that I haven't had a ton of time to explore many places outside of my placement school and campus. I have visited the Columbus Zoo and I'm going to Cedar Point at the end of this month. I have heard that Columbus is the food capital of the world so I've slowly started to discover my favorite places to eat as well as new places to discover.

What advice do you have for students considering an MEd from Ohio State?

Anyone interested in learning more about this program should contact Academic Services in the Department of Teaching and Learning. They were a huge help when I was researching this project and took the time to answer all of my questions and pointed me to the right person to speak to in order to find out more. I also spoke to Dr. Francis Troyan. He was able to give me more insight on the program.

Overall, don't be too stressed. There is a lot of work involved but it is manageable. I'm working part-time and doing school full-time while still giving myself time to relax most days and spend time with friends. Don't worry too much about what you can't control, especially when you student teach. Most lessons will be trial and error but they are experiences from which we can learn.

Use your resources: your cohort, your professors, your mentor teacher, the internet, etc. Become a part of Ohio Foreign Language Association and American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages so you know about upcoming conferences and events involving foreign language teaching. When you're in the program and it all starts to feel like it's too much, just remember, you graduate in less than a year.