Service Learning As Field Of Interest

I chose Child and Adolescent Development as my major and future career field without any hesitation since this is the field where I am interested in and have passion on. Child and Adolescent Development is the field that people are working with children at the age from his/her birth to the end of adolescence. In this field, people are doing research on the changing of a human being. Child and Adolescent Development does not have a focus on a specific subject, whereas, it studies on various kinds of subjects including psychology, biology and anthropology.

When I was applying for college, it did not take much time for me to make a decision of choosing a major. Child and Adolescent Development is the first and the only major that came out to my mind even before I graduated from middle school. The reasons why I chose Child and Adolescent Development as my major in college and a future career is that I realized I have passion on this field. Firstly, I found out that I am interested in spending time with children and I am extremely patient while staying with children comparing with my attitude toward other people. When I was really young, around second grade age, one of my neighbors was very close to me and always invited me to her house. Her baby was 6 months at that time. I found out that I directly went to the baby every time when I went to her home. I enjoyed spending time and playing with the baby when she was sleeping or crying. Not like any other youth at that age, I did not feel anxious or annoyed when the baby was crying, I had the feeling that I want to hold the baby and comfort her until she would not cry. I have tons of patience while staying with children. Secondly, I always want to be a warm person with love to everyone. In my view, early childhood age is one of the most important stages of life, and it is crucial for children to have a right person to guide them and have a right person to provide them a health environment when they are away from their parents.

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Another reason that I have the desire to enter this field is that every time when I hear of the stories of bad teachers, I feel bad for the children and want to be the one to help them to have a better childhood life. I have heard many stories of preschool teachers that they are not interested in their job, they are making money with their job. They do not have passion on what they are doing every day, and some of the teachers even do not enjoy working with children. As a result, they are treating their job as a daily routine and their teaching are boring. I want to be the person who can guide children and help them to have a healthy, happy, and lovely childhood.

While studying on child development courses, I did some volunteer work. The first volunteer job that I got was working in a public elementary school as a Chinese instructor. The elementary school that I worked at has a second language after school program and I was teaching ten students from age 6 to 10. Because it was a mixed age class, it was quite difficult for me to teach them a new language since they were at different stages of language skills development. I tried my best to make the class more interesting and tried to make the learning process simpler.

I worked as a Chinese instructor in this school for around one year and I decided to leave. The reason behind is that the organizer of this program was not paying attention on this program. He wanted to make money from this program yet there were only few students that were interested in learning Chinese in that elementary school. He kept pushing me on finding more students to join in this program instead of trying to figure out a more interesting curriculum of class. By the time I left, many of the students in my class did great progress on learning Chinese, which made me feel extremely happy and proud. It was my first time trying to be a teacher and the feedback was good. The teaching in the elementary school gave me courage on working in this field and brought me more confidence on teaching.

My second volunteered job was recommended by the organizer of that Chinese program. I worked in a family home daycare as a teacher and Chinese instructor. I spent many time taking care of children from 6 months age to 3 years old. I have learned how to take care of children at early childhood. I tried many things for the first time, such as changing diaper for baby, and feeding milk. At daycare, I got to know the daily life of a daycare teacher and also the daily life of a children at daycare. Working in daycare gave me a better understanding of how a children’s daily life is like, which helped me better understand the contents and the theories from textbook. A good way to understand the meaning from textbook is to experience it. After working at daycare, I have learned many knowledges of early childhood from experiences. While working with children, I also came up with many questions and had more interested on finding the reasons behind some behaviors of children, which helped me made the decision of transferring to SJSU to learn about child and adolescent development on a higher level.

I took all the lower division courses of child development and transferred to SJSU for learning more about it. When I took CHAD 150 last semester, there was a service learning assignment, which is an assignment that asked every student in class to go to a preschool of Head Start to help teachers there maintaining their daily schedule. Head Start is a program which provides early childhood education to low-income families. I did my volunteer two hours a week through whole semester. I worked with 15 preschoolers at age between 3 to 4 and some of them can only speak Spanish. At first, I thought our communication and interaction would be difficult and rare. However, after working with them, I found out that we could get along with each other even though we were not speaking the same language. The experience of working at Head Start helped me found more topic to do research on I was getting more and more curious on the field of child and adolescent development.

I came up with many interesting questions from each job and had many topics that wanted to do research on. I felt more passionate every time when I entered a new environment. Children are more adorable that I expect, which makes me have more interest on Child and Adolescent Development and cannot wait to work with children.

After graduate from San Jose State University, I am planning to gain more working experiences either in US or in my home country. As an international student, I have one year OPT (Optional Practical Training) to work in U.S. legally. I will try to find a position of preschool teacher since being a preschool teacher is my short-term career goal. Everything should start from being a preschool teacher. If I do not have a chance to stay in U.S, I am planning to go back to my home country and work at an international preschool since I can teach them English. If after working for a while, I still have many questions on Child and Adolescent Development, I will probably attend graduate school to do further researches in this field. 

A Service-Learning Trip

In Sally Eden’s “Out of the Comfort Zone” student’s essays emphasize how being pushed out of their comfort zone forced them to be more proactive, tackle unfamiliar activities, and develop emotionally. It emphasizes the importance of higher education institutions supporting work-based learning outside of the classroom. Likewise, in Brian Starks “Outside the Comfort Zone of the Classroom” he describes a style of learning that takes students out of their comfort zone, and into the real world. It explains how experiences impacted the student’s education, as well as their lives. He hopes to influence teachers to re-think their way of teaching by understanding the importance of service.

Michelle Regalla’s study focused on teachers. She examines the impact of a service-learning trip to Costa Rica for teachers at a small, liberal arts university. Three trips were taken over the summer semesters from 2010 to 2013. The trips were all organized and conducted by the same faculty member. There were a total of 28 teachers, 22 of them enrolled in a Master’s of Arts in the Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages (MATESOL) program and the other 6 were enrolled in other education programs, including English and elementary education, at either the graduate or undergraduate level. The data includes the teacher’s responses to writing prompts, field notes, and follow-up questions. One shared, “I don’t speak much Spanish so it was uncomfortable being in a room with my host family and not being able to communicate much. But then I remembered that I came on this trip because I needed to get out of my comfort zone!”

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