Tiffany Amber Alfaro, BEd in Elementary Education Student
“My cohort peers have brought me the most comfort during this time of COVID-19 because we all understand each other and are going through this together.”
Institute for Teacher Education - Elementary
- BEd, Elementary Education
I am enrolled in the ITE Elementary Education program as part of the first Wai‘anae cohort, called Ka Malu O Kaiona*.
How did you become interested in the field of education?
I became interested in the field of education after reflecting on my first semester of college. I was accepted into the early admission program at the Shidler College of Business and quickly realized business was not something I was passionate about. While debating about my next steps, I found myself thinking about my time volunteering at an elementary school while I was in high school and how much I enjoyed tutoring and helping students. That was when I made the decision to pursue a career in teaching.
How has the COE program impacted or benefited your career path?
The COE program has definitely made a huge impact on my career path. I have never felt more confident in my choice of becoming an educator. This program really pushed me, but because of that I feel ready to go out into the world of teaching. I feel that the program thoroughly prepared me for my career as a teacher. I feel equipped with the knowledge, experience, and skills that I will be utilizing in my own classroom.
Is there anyone in particular who inspired you to pursue teaching as a career?
There isn’t just one person who inspired me, but a group of people. Before switching over to an education degree, I thought about my time in school (K-12). I realized that school is such a big part of everyone’s life since we spend so much time in school, and it’s crucial to who we are as individuals. We learn so much in school, academically and socially, and a lot of that starts in elementary. Elementary is very important, and I found myself being grateful to all of my elementary school teachers. I had nothing but positive experiences with them, and I do believe that I became the person I am today because of that. I want to be that person for someone. I want to teach students and help them become successful in whatever they choose to do. I want to be that person who helps to pave their road to success, starting from elementary school.
What is your most memorable experience from being a part of the Ka Malu O Kaiona cohort?
There are so many, but if I had to choose one, it would be the time when I taught a social studies lesson to my sixth graders. The lesson was on Ancient Egypt. The students were given an overview of the content and were instructed to read portions of the reading given in their groups. Afterwards, they were to write out the important details they found in their selected readings onto their poster paper in order to share to the rest of the class. Walking around, helping groups, and seeing the collaboration and discussions that were happening throughout their work time made me feel so happy. Seeing the students work together to engage in a lesson that I prepared for them was so rewarding, and it solidified my choice in continuing in this career. I am grateful to have had the chance to teach on the west coast.
How has COVID-19 affected your life?
COVID-19 has definitely made an impact on my student teaching experience. I was devastated to know that the last time I would be seeing my students face-to-face was the day before spring break. Not only has it affected me academically, but socially as well. I have not been able to see a lot of my family members and friends due to stay at home orders. However, I have made great efforts in contacting them via social media, calls, video chats, etc. Still, nothing beats in-person contact. I was really accustomed to the routine I created around my student teaching responsibilities; however, that routine has changed drastically. To keep myself consistent, I have made myself a schedule and routine to follow at home. My cohort peers have brought me the most comfort during this time of COVID-19 because we all understand each other and are going through this together.
What are your future visions and goals?
My goal right now is to secure a teaching position. In the future, I would like to be able to go back to school for my master’s degree after I get accustomed to teaching full-time. I would like to further my education beyond a bachelor’s degree not only for myself and family, but for my future students. The more knowledge and skills I acquire for myself, the better I’ll be able to support my students.
*Ka Malu O Kaiona is a K-6 elementary cohort in the Institute for Teacher Education Elementary Program coordinated by Dr. Rosela Balinbin Santos. Based in Wai‘anae Coast partner schools with the goal of recruiting future teachers for and from Wai‘anae Coast communities, the program focuses on place-based learning, culturally relevant pedagogy, and community advocacy. Spring 2020 marks the first graduates of the Ka Malu O Kaiona cohort.
Check out this Mālama Puʻuloa blog post about the cohort’s visit to Kapapapuhi (scroll down to August 28, 2019).