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!