Aspiring teachers compete at education conference

Drew Hoffmaster | The Chronicle

Tell students, they forget; teach students and they remember; collaborating with others, students will learn.

Over March 11 and 12, 2023, Mason High School’s (MHS) Teacher Academy students attended Educators Rising, a convention hosted at Capital University for students across Ohio interested in teaching. Students competed in a myriad of competitions to encourage their exploration of the teaching profession, including giving a creative lecture, creating and executing lesson plans and participating in a mock job interview. 

MHS’s Teacher Academy has been attending Educators Rising for the last seven years. This year, junior Haylie Wagner was one of the 11 students who chose to attend the convention. She wants to be a teacher because she loves working with young kids and has always been told she has a personality for teaching. Wagner chose to attend the convention without competing to watch the events and interact with other aspiring teachers.

“I was a little too nervous to compete,” Wagner said. “But after seeing everyone do something, I think it’ll be a fun experience to compete next year.”

Wagner said that it was captivating to see how much effort students from other schools put into their competition events. She said that she values being able to gain different perspectives on teaching from her peers.

“I definitely think that being able to speak to others about teaching, even if it is just people I’ve already met, really helps me learn,” Wagner said.  “I think it’s very inspirational to be able to learn how to [teach] before you go into a classroom and get thrown in front of middle schoolers or high schoolers.”

Over 42 different schools attended the convention, and while watching events or during downtime, Wagner said that meeting students from other schools at the convention was the best and most memorable part of Educators Rising.

“A lot of us had different and unique stories,” Wagner said. “Some of us wanted to be a teacher because we wanted to touch kids’ hearts. Hearing all of this was the most inspirational thing ever. It made me just fall in love with teaching even more.”

Senior Will Olabiyi went to Educators Rising to compete in Creative Lecture, an event where he wrote and performed a speech on an assigned topic: student connectedness after the pandemic. He felt that he was able to build upon his ability to improvise, a necessary skill in teaching.

“This will help me when I am older and teaching in front of 20 to 25 different kids,” Olabiyi said. “I know that I can not just freeze up in front of students. I have to do my best and improvise.”

Olabiyi said that he was originally nervous about presenting in front of a large audience. From presenting his speech and then watching many other students do the same, he learned that he did not have to worry so much. He said that he noticed that many students were nervous, but that did not get in the way of their performance.

“You don’t need to be so nervous about teaching,” Olabiyi said. “After a couple of sentences, I was like, okay, I can do this, I know what to say.”

While at Educators Rising, Olabiyi talked and listened to students from other schools. He said that he noticed the variety in teaching methods across schools, which helped him appreciate his experiences with personalized learning at Mason.

“[Students] were meeting me for the first time and I was telling them what I think,” Olabiyi said. “It kind of felt like something that teachers do now. That is why [teachers] want kids to be able to understand things in their own words.”

Educators Rising allowed junior Ihina Das to come out of her shell and get used to the social aspect of teaching. Leading up to the convention, Das said that she spent many hours preparing to compete in the Rising Moment event, where students prepared and presented a speech about what inspired them to want to teach.

“I was hesitant to go and compete because I’m not used to doing stuff in front of judges,” Das said. “I’m really an introverted person, so I thought it was really cool when there was an event called Rising Moment. It really fits my personality.”

Das said that preparing for her event made her realize that teaching is not easy. She, however, did not let this hold her back from competing.

“Sometimes, you got to take adversity in life and embrace it,” Das said. “This leads to confidence, which you got to have to show kids in your class you know what you are doing.”

Das is already planning to attend next year’s Educators Rising convention. She wants to compete in different events to expand her experiences and continue to learn more about teaching.

“Thanks to [Educators Rising], I now know that if you don’t try something, you will never know what the outcome can be,” Das said. “[Educators Rising] was a good experience because I got to meet so many different students and learn more about a profession I am interested in.”

From left to right: Junior Haylie Wagner, Junior Ihina Das and Senior Will Olabiyi

Graphic by Becca Hunter