During her four years at CSB/SJU, Maddie Rainey was able to earn both a grades 5-12 social studies and a K-12 ESL teaching license and play collegiate hockey! After graduation, she taught 10th grade world history at Sartell High School for one year, before traveling Thailand to third grade in a bilingual school.
Why did you decide to study social studies education?
I decided to study social studies education because it was always my favorite subject in school growing up. I have always loved reading historical fiction and that grew into a more in-depth interest in social studies. In college, I realized that the skills needed in social studies are everywhere and it seemed like the perfect fit.
What did you learn in the social studies education program that has helped you in your post-college endeavors?
The biggest thing I learned in the social studies education program was to do the work ahead of time. In college I had to turn in lesson plans and put in the work beforehand. When I got my first teaching job, no one wanted to see my lesson plan for the day but if I didn’t do the planning ahead of time, teaching the lesson would have been exponentially more difficult. I am grateful I learned to get into the habit of good lesson planning so that my lessons can be where the fun happens. I am also grateful that I learned to analyze texts and think about perspectives when selecting sources for my students. This is a skill I use every day in the classroom.
What advice do you have for a student who is considering social studies education?
If you’re considering education, you’re going to need to put yourself out there and get comfortable being uncomfortable. It can be intimidating to get up in front of 29 high schoolers but once you’re up there and the eyes are on you, you need to have the confidence to be yourself. You’re not going to be an expert teacher during your first lesson, things take time and as a teacher you’re always going to make mistakes. That’s okay. If you aren’t making mistakes you might not be pushing yourself hard enough. Keep learning. There is so much to learn in social studies and in the world, don’t ever be satisfied with what you know right now. Learn from your students, they are wiser than they may appear.
What did you appreciate about your experience in the social studies education program?
I felt supported by my classmates and by my professors. I knew I was always welcome to shoot an email to my advisor or pop by the offices of professors to ask questions and get feedback. My professors cared about me as an individual and I loved that I could get such constructive feedback on both my lesson plans and my plans for the future. I really enjoyed being able to practice lessons in front of my classmates as well.
What was a significant challenge you faced as a social studies student? How did you overcome that challenge?
One significant challenge I faced as a socials studies student occurred during student teaching. There were many days when I returned to campus feeling like I was in over my head. I remember feeling inadequate and was lacking confidence. The best thing I did was ask for help. No one was expecting me to know everything or be a perfect teacher. It took me a little bit to realize that asking for help wouldn’t make me less of a teacher, it would make me a much better one. I asked my cooperating teacher for additional feedback. I asked another teacher in the department to come in and observe me to get feedback on my classroom management. I’m so happy I did this because it helped me develop much more confidence in myself and feel more at ease trying out new ideas. This skill of being open to change and asking for help is something I want to hold on to for life.