Serena Ford

Day 773: Looking to the Future

Our soon-to-be-graduate is Serena Ford. Serena talks to us about her major and what life may look like after graduation. Completing her college career is a bit daunting, so she shares with us how she is trying to prepare herself for her new chapter in life. 

I can’t believe it’s senior year! It feels like just yesterday was my getting started weekend, and now here we are! I always love the start of a new school year and all the possibilities that a fresh start brings (and the fact that I still have a small amount of motivation… LOL). It’s crazy to think that my next first day of school will be in my own classroom with my own students!

As far as school itself goes, my classes this semester have been enjoyable so far. We’ve done a lot of fun projects with activities we could do with our future students (we have everything on display in Apple 119). While education sometimes seems like it’s all fun and games, we’ve also been asking and thinking through some tough questions, such as, what do I do when I have a student in my class who can’t regulate their own emotions and becomes violent when they get upset? While things like this are hard to think through and the prospect of a new field placement brings new challenges to deal with, I’m thankful for the opportunity to apply what we learn in a classroom with real students while we’re still in a college setting with professors we can turn to for guidance.

Now that senior year has arrived, the fear of missing out is starting to hit hard. People always say that “college is the best four years of your life,” and while there have definitely been enjoyable parts of college, it hasn’t exactly turned out to be all that I thought it would – freshman year was cut short by covid, sophomore year I was dealing with some of the worst anxiety I’d had in a while, and junior year was my toughest year academically so far. I can’t help but worry about how in a year from now everything will be different – I’ll (probably) have a full-time teaching job, be making plans to move out, and doing all sorts of other things that “adulting”entails. While it’s so easy to get caught up in worry and fear of the future, I’m doing my best to be present and enjoy the here and now rather than let myself be consumed with worry, for “which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (Matthew 6:27)

Day 787: Career Preparation and Anxiety

Now that class has started, Serena explains her initial experiences as an elementary school teacher. Doubts about her career choice and anxiety linger in her mind, but she ultimately places her trust in Christ because He knows her future. 

Not going to lie, the past two weeks have been a bit of a rollercoaster of emotions! Lots of happy moments as well as some not-so-happy ones… we’ve done some fun activities in class, I walked with the School of Education in the homecoming parade, spent some time in the ‘Ville with my parents that weekend, and had some fun laughs with the girls from class. We also finally got our field experience placements for this semester! I will be in a 5th grade classroom in Beavercreek teaching math and science toward the end of this semester. I’m not sure how I feel about it, but I’m excited to meet my new mentor teacher, see a different school/district, and be with real live kids again!

The stress is starting to set in at this point with school, work, and life in general all piling on each other. Just last night was my first almost-all-nighter of the semester. It’s now been two days in a row that I’ve had to do some deep breathing in the middle of class to keep from having a panic attack. But this is where the rollercoaster comes in – I’ll be feeling stressed and overwhelmed one minute, then the next I’ll have a great conversation with a friend that cheers me up, then I’ll realize there was an assignment I forgot to finish or something and then I’m right back where I started. But overall, I’ve been pushing through by remembering that on a rollercoaster, there are both ups and downs – even though there are low moments, there are still so many things to be grateful for.

In just two weeks there have been so many moments where I’ve switched back and forth between telling myself, “Why in the world did I go into teaching?” and “This is exactly what I want to do.” I found Danny Baron’s chapel last week encouraging when he talked about the ups and downs in his professional life and the career changes he went through after graduation. Even if I don’t stay in teaching forever, I can know that wherever I end up, God has placed me there to serve and to learn something through the experience.

Day 801: Field Trip!

Serena describes a field trip she took to Starbase with her students and the added difficulties that come with teaching.

Overall, the past two weeks have been pretty enjoyable. I had several big assignments/projects due for class last week, but several of them were fun things. In our Teaching Mathematics class on Monday, we hosted a Homeschool Math Day in the morning, where around 70 homeschoolers from the Cedarville area came in and did math stations with us. Then, Monday evening, we hosted a Family Math Night across the street at CedarCliff, where students and their families did the same station activities that we presented that morning. Then, for our Teaching Social Studies class on Tuesday and Thursday, we did geography stations with the third grade Cedar Cliff students. We actually did these stations outside, and we got to make our activities big and interactive. The students seemed to really enjoy them! Then, Wednesday was our first day of field experience! I actually enjoyed 5th grade way more than I thought I would. The kids were hilarious and they made me laugh out loud several times! Our class actually went on a field trip that first day to Starbase, which is a program the Air Force Base runs for 5th grade students in the area where they do all kinds of STEM activities. I actually went to Starbase when I was a kid, so I got to bond with the students about that. I was a little bit stressed about having the field trip the first day because I wasn’t able to see the classroom or my mentor teacher actually teaching at all. But the one blessing about the field trip is that I was able to bond with the students and interact with them in a way I might not have been able to in the regular classroom. I’m also a little worried about classroom management with this group, because my class’s homeroom has 31 students and they’re a very chatty group.

I mentioned last week that gratitude and finding a silver lining is something the Lord has been teaching me, and that theme has definitely carried over into this week too. While I was stressed about not being able to see my classroom on that first day, I was able to bond with my students in a unique way. While last week was exhausting with all of the assignments and lessons, the students had a blast doing our activities (and I honestly had fun too). There is always something to thank Him and praise Him for!

Day 815: From Student to Teacher

Life is about to get very real for Serena! Now that fall break is over, Serena is facing major exams for her Ohio teaching license. And she is completely done with her undergrad classes! She fills us in on the big transition from the undergrad classroom to the elementary classroom.

Since the last time I wrote, fall break has happened! My family spent the weekend in Amish country, which was really fun. I didn’t get to catch up on sleep as much as I had hoped to, but the trip was still really enjoyable. I couldn’t help but worry a bit about the craziness that would ensue when classes started up again, but I did my best to push the worries aside and just be present in the moment. Since classes have started again after fall break, I have been trying to study for two big exams I have to take to get my state of Ohio teaching license. I’m definitely very nervous for these exams, and trying to balance studying as well as completing other assignments for school has been challenging.

Today was actually my last day of regular undergrad classes! Next week, our class starts full-time field experience (which is where we’ll be the rest of the semester), and then next semester will be full-time student teaching. This means today was also the last chapel I’ll get to go to, and being a commuter, I honestly won’t be on campus much at all after this point. It has definitely been a bittersweet day – I’m excited for all I will learn in field experience, but I’m also sad to see a chapter coming to an end. I’ve been trying to remember the C.S. Lewis quote that says, “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” Even though it’s sad to see one chapter end, there will be plenty of opportunities for great things to happen in the next one. 

I recently realized that with Thanksgiving break and weekends factored in, we will only have a total of 22 days in our field experience classrooms for the rest of this semester. One of our professors told us this and reminded us that Paul only spent three weeks (three sabbaths) in Thessalonica, and he was able to make a great impact there. The number of days we’ll be in the classroom is also just over three weeks, and even though it’s a relatively short amount of time, we have the potential to make a great impact on our students. I’m excited to see how God is going to use me during this time in the classroom!

Day 833: Learning in the Classroom and the Theater

As teaching continues, Serena learns more about classroom dynamics. She also saw the season three premiere of “The Chosen” in theaters. Serena describes its impact on her.

Life has gotten a little crazy since the last time I wrote! This past week, I taught my unit plan, which is an assignment we have to complete during Methods II that includes five days of lessons and several reflections. Overall, it went well and the students seemed to enjoy the activities we did. My energy levels were relatively okay at the start of the week, but by the end of the week I was physically and mentally exhausted. My biggest challenge with teaching this week was definitely with classroom management and managing student behavior, which I figured would be the case. It’s difficult to keep students quiet and listening during instruction and at a reasonable noise level during activities and independent work time. Right before my lesson on Tuesday, one of the students’ behavior was so disruptive that my mentor teacher called the principal in to sit next to this student’s desk. I hadn’t noticed him come in at first, but I had noticed how quiet and on-task the rest of the class was. I thought to myself, “Wow, I’m doing awesome today!” But then I realized, the reason they were being so good was because the principal was in there! Either way, if they’re on task, I’ll take it. (LOL)

As for other various things I’ve done lately, two weekends ago, I saw Brandon Lake in concert, which was awesome! This past Friday, I went with my family and a group of people from our church to see the newest two episodes of The Chosen in theaters, which was also awesome. I also have now taken both of my licensure exams. One of them I’m still waiting to hear if I passed or not, since it has an essay that needs to be scored. The other was all multiple choice, and I don’t know my exact score yet, but I knew right after that I passed at least!

Currently, I have a whole week off for Thanksgiving break since my school is out all week, which is a blessing. Looking to after break, I will start teaching math as well as science, which I’m a bit nervous about. My continual prayer is that God will use me and my areas of weakness to bring glory to Him and show that the only reason I can do what I do is through the strength that He provides!

Day 845: Birthday!

It’s Serena’s birthday! Serena also discusses student teaching, Christmas plans, and Taylor Swift. Listen to the final episode of the Fall ’22 semester, and get ready for another semester of encouraging conversations on 1000 Days.

Today was my last day of field experience for the semester! It’s crazy that this semester has gone by so fast. It’s very bittersweet – I’m excited for Christmas break, the holiday season, and getting to rest and sleep, but I’m also going to miss my students so much. This field experience was a great learning experience, and I feel like I’m walking away from it having learned a lot about teaching. My mentor teacher was an incredible mentor and I feel like I learned so much from her. Today was actually my birthday, and several of my students brought me gifts or made me a card, which was super sweet!

As for life outside of school, over break, I’m looking forward to seeing friends and family, sleeping in, and watching Christmas movies. The burnout the past couple of weeks has definitely been real, so I’m looking forward to getting some much-needed rest. One evening last week, I had about an hour after I finished homework and lesson plans before I went to bed, and I didn’t even know what to do with myself! I’ve gotten so used to coming home, doing homework, and then going straight to bed that I didn’t even know what to do with the free time. I’m looking forward to finding some actual hobbies again over break (LOL).

I’m thankful to have made it through another semester and another year of life. It’s crazy to think that around ten years ago when Taylor Swift’s 22 came out, I thought to myself, “Wow, being 22 is so far away!” And here I am now at 22! It’s crazy to think about how fast time has flown by – since this semester started, since college started, and even since when I was a kid. Even through exhaustion, burnout, and hard days, God’s goodness and blessings are still evident every day.

Day 891: The Beginning of the End

Serena’s final semester starts off strong with full-time student teaching! Serena shares how that has been developing, the coming future of the semester, and a quick recap of winter break.

How is this already my last semester of college?! I can’t believe graduation is in less than four months! Student teaching has started – last week I was just observing in my classroom, and this week I start teaching one lesson each day. Then, next week, I’ll start teaching two lessons, and so on until I’m teaching everything. This week, I’m teaching phonics, which I really haven’t taught (my placement for the semester when we taught just reading was in a 3rd grade classroom, so I really didn’t teach any phonics), so I’m a bit out of my comfort zone. I’m actually really nervous to start teaching again for some reason. Before the semester even started, I was already pre-stressed about all the stress of this semester and didn’t feel like I had fully rested and recovered from last semester. I definitely learned a lot and was stretched in new ways last semester, and I know I will be again this semester with student teaching. It’s time once again to get comfortable with being uncomfortable! In all my field experience placements, the growing pains have definitely been real. As much as I would like to still be on Christmas break, staying in my pajamas and watching movies, I’m trying to remember that I ought to offer the work I do in student teaching as worship to the Lord. Everywhere I go and with everyone I interact with, I am a representation of Him, and He has things in store for me to learn and ways to grow. I’m also trying to remember that last year, He brought me through a lot of things with school that I’d been very scared of (i.e. my first field experiences). I never had to walk alone, and I never will have to this semester either. I had to trust Him in new ways and more than ever before, and I know I will have to do the same this year and this semester.

In other news, Christmas break was good! I enjoyed spending time with family, and one of my best friends got engaged and I got to go wedding dress shopping with her! I’m hoping that I can continue to find ways to have fun and recharge during all the busyness of this semester. 

Day 912: Burnout Roadblock

As the unfortunate reality of a teacher’s workload sets in, Serena finds herself developing procrastination habits and exhaustion. She shares with us the depth of her possible burnout and what she is doing to get through it. 

The week before last, I felt like I actually had an okay balance of my responsibilities. I was able to come home and relax in the evenings after school and make time to read and do things for fun. But in reality, I only had that false sense of peace because I was procrastinating on next week’s lesson plans. I spent most of my past two Saturdays and Sundays in a frenzy trying to finish writing all my lesson plans for the week for the different subjects and finishing writing my reflections from last week’s lessons. Burnout is already starting to set in and I am physically and mentally exhausted. I get done with lesson plans, and my eyes are burning and I have a massive headache from staring at a screen for so long. I also have found it difficult to stay joyful around this time as seasonal depression starts to really set in. A verse I have been clinging to is Romans 8:28 – “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” I know that all I am learning through student teaching is helping me grow and become a better teacher, but the growing pains are also real. I’m trying to remember that if the purpose I am called for is teaching, the Lord will provide and prepare me for it.

On the bright side of things, I was able to enjoy a snow day and make time to spend with friends later in the week. I also was able to go to the 100 days party, which was really fun! It was nice to leave “teacher mode” and re-enter “college student mode” for a little while (LOL). My dad and I also went to the CU basketball game on Saturday, which was fun. We’ve made a tradition where we go to a game together at least once a year, which I love. Also, I mentioned before that I was not able to get my Taylor Swift tickets, but last week my mom surprised me with a graduation gift of tickets to see Stevie Nicks in May! We are both huge Stevie Nicks/Fleetwood Mac fans, so I’m super excited for that.

Day 919: An Impactful Week

From positive teaching feedback, to two Galentine’s parties, to the season three finale of The Chosen, Serena explains how blessed she is to have had such a fruitful week. 

Honestly, I don’t have many life updates to report. As always, I still don’t have much of a life outside of school! A couple of days last week, I actually took home some of my textbooks and planned to get ahead on lesson plans, but unfortunately, my internet was down at my house both times. So much for getting ahead! On Thursday last week, my supervisor from CU came to observe me teaching. It went well and she gave me good feedback, which I was happy about. I’m getting observed again on Thursday this week, so I’m hoping that goes well too. Tomorrow at school we’re having our Valentine’s Day party, which I’m excited for!

As for life outside of school, Friday night, I had a little Galentine’s night with a friend, which was really fun. On Saturday, I went to another Galentine’s party with the ladies at my church. We did a gift exchange where we all brought in two of our favorite things to give as a gift (and brought one of our own to show what it is). We would then draw two people’s names out of a bag and those two people got one of your gifts. It was really fun and a great time of fellowship! Also, my mom and I got to see Our Town, which was so good! Everyone did a great job and the show definitely made me emotional!

Also, I won’t elaborate here to avoid spoiling anything, but the season 3 finale of The Chosen – AMAZING! One of the most powerful and impactful episodes yet! I’ve been reading Psalm 77 that they read in the finale over and over again this past week and it has resonated with me and encouraged me so much, because it encapsulates exactly how I’ve been feeling lately. Verse 4 – “You hold my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak.” (basically how I feel waking up in the morning and trying to pray… LOL) and verses 11 and 14 – “I will remember the deeds of the Lord… You are the God who works wonders; you have made known your might among the peoples.” The strength of the Lord is definitely the only thing getting me through this season of life and I am very thankful for it!

Day 935: Highs and Lows

Life has been throwing so many things at Serena lately. She’s been staying busy with student teaching and planning a fundraising event. Also, Serena learned that her grandma was diagnosed with cancer. She explains how she’s reacting to all of the chaos.

Day 935

Day 953: Death in the Family

In her last episode, Serena talked about her grandma’s cancer diagnosis. Serena doesn’t bring us good news this week. Coping after a loved one has passed is an extraordinary challenge, and Serena shares with us how she is managing that.

I’m not going to lie, it’s been an incredibly hard few weeks. Since the last time I wrote, my grandma got her official diagnosis of cancer. She had declined quickly and was discharged to hospice a little over a week ago. This past Friday night, I was in the middle of submitting edTPA, my capstone project I’ve mentioned before, when we got the call that my grandma had passed away. On the one hand, I’m glad that she is no longer in pain. I’m glad that her experience with cancer was not long and drawn-out and that she didn’t suffer and deteriorate over a long period of time. And of course, I am thankful that she is now in the presence of the Lord. I’m thankful for the faithful life that she lived and the example she set. But on the other hand, it is still difficult losing a loved one and knowing you won’t see them again in this life here on earth. It’s also difficult to deal with since it all happened so quickly. Just a little over three weeks ago, my mom and I had been over at her house visiting with her, and now she’s gone. It’s also been hard seeing the strain the situation has put on my mom and my family. We lost my grandpa (my mom’s dad) about 7 years ago, and now after losing my grandma (her mom), she’s lost both of her parents. The visitation and services are on Wednesday and Thursday of this week, so I’m thankful that I’m on spring break this week and I didn’t have to miss school. I also am glad that my edTPA is done and submitted, and I didn’t end up having to go to jury duty this week with all of this going on. But unfortunately, I have to be on standby to report for jury duty next Monday, so I may have to miss school for that. 

Overall, the past few weeks have been a time of putting faith into action. It’s easy to read Ecclesiastes 7:2, “It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting,” until it’s your loved one’s funeral that you’re attending. I’m getting through this time by reminding myself that our faith is real and is not in vain, and my grandma is now seeing that for herself. I’m thankful for her life of faithfulness and the faith that has been passed down from her to my family members.

Day 967: Continued Healing

How can someone return to normal life after a great tragedy? Serena isn’t quite sure, but she also doesn’t have a choice. She speaks about how the memory of her grandma keeps popping up during her day. And because of her grandma’s passing, she is behind on trying to find a job. Serena talks about the difficulties of returning to normal life and the truth about the phrase “let go and let God.”

The past two weeks haven’t been the best, but they haven’t been the worst either. There have been a lot of tears since my grandma passed. Her services went well, which I was thankful for. It was difficult going back to school after spring break after her passing and everything that happened. I’m still finding myself crying at random times whenever I see something that makes me think of her (or sometimes for no real reason at all).

We’re finally in the home stretch here at the end of the semester, and the end feels so close yet so far. I’m having a lot of mixed emotions about it – I’m burnt out from school, but I know it’s about to get real after graduation. For a while, I’d been planning to sit down during spring break and start looking for teaching jobs to apply to. My edTPA would be done and I would have some free time on my hands… but that plan didn’t work out. A few of the girls in my class have started to get their first teaching jobs, so I’m trying to keep myself from panicking about not being employed yet. I actually found out that the school where I’m student teaching is hiring a third grade and a fourth grade teacher for next year. Unfortunately the application is already closed online, but it looks like I might still be able to submit an application, so I may try to apply. There have been so many other things on my mind that I wasn’t really thinking about it, but the time has come! I was also starting to panic because none of the districts around here where I really hope to work are hiring at all. It is still somewhat early for schools to know what positions they’ll have open for next school year, but I don’t want to hold out for a particular district and then find out they’re not hiring. Then, I’d miss out on all the other schools that were actually hiring. It’s a stressful process, but I am trying to remember that the Lord knows exactly where I’m going to work next year and that the position will come in His timing. It’s just difficult because it’s easy to say you can “let go and let God” because He has it all planned out, but then on the other hand, the Lord is not the one sending in job applications for me and putting my resume together – it’s me. I’m the one deciding which positions to apply for and then actually applying, so this situation requires both trust in Him and action on my part, which is a lot more difficult than just “letting go and letting God!” I’m realizing that these decisions are going to require a lot of prayer and guidance from Him.