Author: Leah Els

Shine Through Care/What I Wish My Professors Had Told Me

Articles like these remind me why I chose this profession.   Like Jennifer, I can become disappointed or discouraged as I work through these internship days.   I have to be reminded that these are humans, like myself, that I am teaching, educating.   Jennifer Collins gave some great pointers that I can see more realistically now that I have spent over half a semester in the secondary education setting.   The students are not always going to respond to me or do what I ask, but thats okay, and I’m learning that.   I am extremely concerned with making my lesson plans perfect or at least something worth learning!   I’m working on what is effective, what will work and if it too much or too little.   I feel bad for my mentor teachers because I’m constantly bugging them on how I’m doing, if this idea is feasible, does it match your current plan for the semester… and the list goes on.   Jennifer Collins helped ground me even further in my decision to teach and to give myself a break.

Let Care Shine Through is another great article to remind me why I decided to go into this career.   Culturally relevant critical teacher care is a term that I’ve heard and used in application in my other classes.   Strangely, this is how I always viewed teaching.   The term is used for “historically undeserved children”, but I believe it is a teacher’s duty to always “show insight into the sociopolitical realities of students’ lives.”   I believe as educators it is our job to be culturally aware because each student comes with a different story, different history and different outlook on life.   I agree that we have to truly care in order to make any difference in these students’ lives.


Personalized learning is a fantastic concept!   I think it is a great idea, and could be the best form of teaching for the vast group of children in a classroom.   However, at the secondary level, it is very hard to implement.   Secondary education is constant moving from block to block, running through the day trying to survive.   High school teachers see over a hundred students a day, and that presents a real challenge for teachers to learn ‘where each student is.’   High school teachers have from 53-75 minutes with their students and from my experience time is already tight.   Teachers have to prep for all their classes, keep their IEP students in mind (one of my teachers has 8 in one classroom) and still set the standard high for the rest of the class.   This is a daily struggle and typically to keep things easier, IEP accommodations tend to standard of the lesson plan.   I could possibly see where teachers could do a lot of heavy lifting at the beginning of the school year to develop personalized learning in their classrooms.   But, I can also see how this heavy lifting could be done in vain.   At the elementary level teachers get to know their students better and can develop personalized learning to fit their classroom.

I would like to see something like personalized learning succeed in our schools, but there are other issues that need to be addressed first- like class size, the amount of IEPs in one classroom and what the role of a secondary education teacher really is.


Trumps Ends DACA, Calls on Congress to Act.

This summer I heard a lot of conversation about Dreamers and what was happening with DACA.   Unfortunately, I had too much going on personally to investigate the issue at that time.   I used NPR’s article to give myself a quick rundown.   President Obama made an executive order in 2012 called DACA to provide safety from deportation for children who were brought to the United States illegally by their parents because bills pertaining to their status could not be passed by legislation.   President Trump has been under pressure by 10 state attorneys general who claimed the President Obama overstepped his boundaries as president by putting the program into action.

President Trump stated “I do not favor punishing children, most of whom are adults now, for the actions of their parents.   But, we must also recognize that we are a nation of opportunity because we are a nation of laws.”   Laws are made by the legislative branch and such changes to immigration shouldn’t be solely at the hands of the executive branch.   Our nation is built upon a separation of power and we have to abide by our constitution in order to have opportunities.   I would love to see congress pass a few of the bipartisan bills being brought to the table to allow for legal status of this group of people, since legal status was not provided by DACA.   But, unfortunately this group of people are at the mercy of our laws and we have to push this program to congress to pass the bill and make it a law.

Leah’s Introduction

My name is Leah Els.   I’m 29 and a recent transplant to Fairbanks.   I move here from Virginia Beach, VA this past summer.   I have a Bachelors in History and a Masters in Organizational Management, concentration in Global Management.   I’m in the process of getting my teaching license for secondary education.   I chose history as my content area because I love the content and I feel that it is extremely understated.   I believe it is a valuable class if taught correctly, so I hope I can learn all that I can while in this program to be an effective teacher.   I’m constantly asking my mentors how do you do this?   When is this appropriate?   How do you measure student’s learning (aside from assessment)?   What do you do in this scenario?   I feel very much like a fish out of water.   I have very little experience in the education field so this is all knew to me.   There is a fine art that I hope to master or at least have an understanding of in this short year.   But, I enjoy all my interactions with the students and that reminds me why I decided to go down this path.

When I’m free from all responsibilities I like to try different foods.   I’m very interested in pairing wines with cheese and different cuisine.   I’m working on my culinary skills by trying different recipes from around the world.   Its not a cheap pastime, but its highly rewarding (sometimes)!   I also enjoy reading.   I like to switch up the genres from historical fiction to fantasy to crime thrillers.   I’m always taking recommendations for a good read!   I am looking forward to working with everyone over the next few months.