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MSUM alumna follows her passion to teach

Emily Block always knew education was her passion. Growing up in a family of teachers, there was no doubt that she would follow in their footsteps. MSUM helped her achieve her goals and become a HeadStart teacher.

Through her time at MSUM, Emily was able to gain experience with preschool, kindergarten and first through third grade students. She felt that these experiences gave her a good idea of what she was walking into in the teaching field, especially in regard to behavior management.

“I felt like I was much more prepared than a lot of other teachers I’ve met because of the vast experiences I had,” she says.

Student teaching at a Montessori school and teaching abroad in Australia exposed Emily to two different environments that were good practice for her career post-graduation.

Coming to MSUM as a transfer student, Emily admits that she struggled at her former school. When starting her classes at MSUM, she could tell that her professors were very engaged, and she was surrounded by other students who wanted to be teachers.

“It was a cooperative, fun, and lighthearted experience. I never felt out of place or that I messed up, because everybody there wanted me to succeed,” she says.

Emily was able to have exposure to three different student teaching placements before moving to Wisconsin, where she realized they didn’t have the same opportunities there.

MSUM offers 23 placement options for students seeking student teaching opportunities. Ranging from the Fargo-Moorhead area to Texas, Europe to South Africa, and more, students can implement their knowledge and receive hands-on experience.

“My professors instilled reflection in us after every practice. At the time it seemed irrelevant but now I reflect on every lesson I teach,” Emily says.

As education continues to grow and adapt to new generations of students, teachers must learn how to adapt as well by adjusting their teaching techniques and skills.

“As a teacher, I love change and new things. I love improving my education. I’ve constantly put as much on my plate as I can to continue learning, which is a habit I took from MSUM,” she says.

Emily works in a collaborative classroom where teachers and students, who teach and learn differently, come together as one. Students with Individual Education Plans (IEP) and general learning students are taught together while receiving the support they need. This allows students to have day to day interaction with their peers and teaches them resilience.

“I get to see the students in general learning understand that not everyone looks and thinks the same way they do. It creates incredible skills in kids that they don’t always get in general education,” Emily says.

Emily is now working towards her master's degree in special education with an emphasis on early childhood special education.

She would love to see teachers stick around. MSUM taught her about the teacher shortage well before she began teaching. “I would love to see teaching return to a place where we can handle it again,” she says.

She encourages students to get as much real-life experience as they can so they understand what it will be like after graduation. Finding a balance is something that has helped her become sustainable in her job.

Emily understands that what she does is important and the kids she is teaching need someone passionate about their job. Because she was able to gain experience and have her own great teachers, she can now be the influential teacher in many students’ lives.

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