Kevin DeCosta is among 30 American educators who were selected to participate in the White House History Teacher Institute in Washington, D.C., over the summer.
During the five-day workshop in July 2017, he engaged in discussions with historians, visited local historic sites including the White House, participated in inquiry-based learning activities and more – all of which he has been able to bring back to his middle school social studies students at St. Charles School in Woburn, Massachusetts.
“The experience was simply amazing,” recalls DeCosta, who earned a bachelor’s degree in education and history from Lesley in 2012. “Spending the week with other educators, the White House curator and many other historians and experts was so enriching.”
We caught up with him and he shared his best advice for future Lesley teachers as they prepare to enter the education field:
1. Use your Lesley experience as a laboratory to learn all you can about this profession.
“Along with the field experiences, one of the most helpful aspects of the Lesley program is learning about the ‘whole student’ so you can understand how critical it is to build relationships.”
2. Substitute teach in area schools.
“Seize the opportunity to gain experience. Get into schools any way you can.”
3. Explore beyond your classroom.
“Middle and Secondary Education majors can get hyper-focused on their chosen content areas. However, for classroom- and behavior-management tips, check out an elementary-level classroom, or the veteran teacher in your school.”
4. Absorb everything you can. When you finally have your own classroom, this knowledge will be priceless.
“Embrace technology and come out of the gate ready to roll into a one-to-one device program. Be familiar with Google apps for education, iPads and other products that are used in schools today. It’s still the teacher’s job to make the content engaging, but these technologies are important tools.”
5. Reach out to Lesley alumni and shadow them, and make connections with Lesley alumni in your school.
“My mentor teacher during my first year was a Lesley alumna. She kept me motivated and supported me during that most stressful year. Everywhere I have worked, there are Lesley alumni doing great things. Observe them, work with them, support them and lean on them when you need it.”