Transition to Graduate School

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Transition to Graduate School

Post by KevinAndrewRRichards on Mon Apr 28, 2014 2:43 pm

Whereas many PETE students seek employment as K-12 physical education teachers after completing their degrees, you have decided continue your education and pursue a graduate degree. Why have you made this decision? Who influence you to attend graduate school? Why do you believe this is the right move for you at this point in your career?

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Re: Transition to Graduate School

Post by Kelly_Simonton on Fri Jul 25, 2014 11:05 am

I was initially introduced to the thought of graduate school by my college advisor. Towards the final year of my under graduate I voiced some concern about finding a job to my advisor. We were in a unique situation in the fact my now fiancé was also looking for a PE job. Problem: to PE graduates in the state of Wyoming= nearly no jobs or we would be fighting for the same position. So, my thought was to move to a larger populated area with more school districts and more opportunity for jobs. I never felt that I couldn't earn an open position in a Wyoming school, but I was also thinking about our future and job security. I can't speak for my advisor, but in my opinion I was excelling in my school work, more than I had ever before. School was my passion and I was thriving to learn more and be the best at what I was doing. During classes I found myself asking more questions and wanting to no more in-depth answers into pedagogy, curriculum and common issues within the field. Then during student teaching it really hit me. Teaching was fun but it always felt like what's next? Being in the school and repeating lessons, showing up, and having one in particular suppressing student teacher, I really felt there has to be more than this. During my time student teaching I found myself creating my own research and keeping data on students, trying to change activities because I felt that what the current teachers were doing was boring and not up to date. So, ultimately through a long grapevine way, my path lead me to want to learn more about PE. I felt that instead of being a routine PE teacher at a school, (which is some teachers path and they really enjoy it) that I wanted to be more than that. I felt that I either wanted to perfect what PE should be about in a public school or go to the research side and pioneer and make teachers better. I am driven by my passion to be the best and that is obviously driven by some ego that I have. So ultimately this felt like a big and more important to me, move.
My advisor is the ultimate influence to me that made graduate school a possibility. She was able to assess my concerns about my future and believe I had the ability to be successful in graduate school. The semester in school before I was student teaching is when she asked me if I had thought about graduate school, which had never been a thought I had. Like I mentioned before, I felt that I was excelling at school like I never had before and I was also was involved with a student organization of PETE majors. I asked my advisor about leading and becoming the president of the organization the year before. I think she was hesitant because at that time I was an average student and still partially invested in school and partially involved in the lifestyle. She took a chance on me, and as minute as it may seem to someone outside of the organization or program, to me it really elevated my school work and leadership skills at the right point. I was able to attend national, regional, and state conferences and meet many professionals in the field. I was able to see my advisor work and the other professors in my department, and I started to really look up to her and them. Overall, their jobs and further education interests me much more vs. getting into a school and teaching at this point. Again, trying not to sound egotistical or conceded, if I am a student who does really well in undergrad and the other students just want to get a job and start working, I feel I should do something more. I enjoy that feeling and my advisor made me realize there is more I can accomplish.
Right now, this feels like the best move for me for a couple of reasons. My fiancé and I needed to get to a better location to open up more job opportunities. Student teaching become really redundant and I felt there was more to teaching. The two possibilities at that point were either, I need to learn more because this class needs to be better or I need more information because I am failing these students. To both questions, the answer to me was, I need more schooling. These answers are in no particular order but another reason I feel this is the best move was the fact my advisor made me realize in that I was capable of getting to this point. Right now, with my lack of further education and not complete understanding, I want to take my school all the way. Again, probably driven by my competitiveness and ego, I have the option to stay in school through my PhD and that's where I aspire to be. At this point that's why I chose this path, but this concerns me. If I am unhappy with teaching (in my case student teaching) because I want something more and I don't want complacence, will gaining this degree fill that void. So this move feels right that it will open my mind and my opportunities to really become what feels right.

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Re: Transition to Graduate School

Post by Angela_Chambers on Tue Jul 29, 2014 11:58 am

When I was a junior in my undergrad studies, I had the idea in my head that I wanted to go on with my education. The reasons at that time were due to money and how comfortable I felt in an academic setting. As I entered my senior year, I was dating Kelly, another physical educator. We decided that the job market may be too slim for both of us to find jobs in the same location, so we would apply to a few graduate schools around the country and see what happened. Both of us had the mindset that only one would get a GA and the other would try to find a job around the school providing the assistantship.
We talked about our choice with one of our most trusted college professors, Karen. She brought to light her true passion for her job, shared her incredible graduate experiences, and showed her true belief in both of our successes. Karen really opened my eyes to the opportunity that was in front of Kelly and me. We both had great chances to get assistantships and further our education!
Karen had set up a conference call for Kelly and I with a professor from The University of Georgia, a school to which we were applying. I remember listening to Kelly tell the professor why he wanted to continue his education. He said that there was still so much more to learn about being a physical educator, and he wanted to learn as much as he could about the subject before diving into teaching. Furthermore, his aspirations were to be a professor at this point because of how many more people would be affected by his knowledge... and I told the professor my reasoning from when I was a junior. It was not that this was still my reasoning, but I had just not really reflected since my junior year and because we had only applied for graduate school as an option at this point. Kelly pushed me to think about my true reasons for pursuing a graduate degree. Part of the reason came from my childhood experience of developing a blood clot. This incident led to both of my parents leading more healthy lives. I wanted this for everyone. Who better to start with than children, but how can we get younger people to want to be active and improve their health in a continuous growing world of technology that doesn’t exactly encourage being active? The more I thought, the more I wanted graduate school to be our only option. Why? Technology is changing at an incredibly high rate, and students are becoming less active due to these technological changes, making physical education more important than ever. How do we promote the use of this technology in and out of the classroom to encourage students and their parents to become more active? What types of technology that promote activity are more motivating to use than others? There are so many questions that need to be answered, and who better to answer them than me! At this point, I know this is the right decision because I am incredibly excited and motivated, and wanting to learn more about how to motivate students to become physically active for a lifetime.

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Re: Transition to Graduate School

Post by KevinAndrewRRichards on Fri Aug 22, 2014 9:55 am

Kelly and Angela

The more I read about your experiences the more I feel as if the three of us have very similar career trajectories. Similar to Kelly, student teaching solidified my decision to go to graduate school. I enjoyed working with children, but always felt like there could be more. I wanted to wanted to help people be the best teachers they could be and working in a university setting seemed like the most logical place to do that. I was also becoming a little disenchanted with the day-to-day routine nature of K-12 teaching. I was able to do it just fine for student teaching, but had real concerns with how long I could maintain motivation in the long run. Also, like Angela, I have always been very comfortable in school and staying in academia felt like a good fit for me.

Unlike the two of you, I really did not have any conceptualization of what research was or what it involved before I got to graduate school. My undergrad was a small, liberal arts teaching college that did not have a research expectation for faculty. I never even read a research article until I got to Purdue and started my master's degree. However, I feel in love with the idea of research from the beginning. It seemed like (and still does) a good way to help improve and bring legitimacy to the profession. I hope the two of you have similar experiences as you get involved in scholarship at the next level.

One question in response to your posts: It seems as if you both had several options for potential graduate programs, so why did you choose LSU?

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Re: Transition to Graduate School

Post by Karen on Fri Aug 22, 2014 11:34 am

Hi everyone!
Its so interesting to read Kelly and Angela's posts about their interest in grad school. I was there every step of the way, and we have talked extensively about their choices, concerns, etc. Despite all that, it is still fascinating to hear them describe their thoughts. Thanks to both of you for being so open! I should mention that I want you both to be as open and honest as possible- you know that I think the world of you regardless of what you share here with Kevin and I.

I believed from the beginning that both Kelly and Angela would be highly successful in our field. If they chose to, they will be fantastic practitioners and will blow people away with their teaching skills and their care for children. They would both be THE TEACHER that students remembered and who changed lives and influenced people. This is because they are both very intelligent, but, more importantly, have HEART. To me, this is almost as important in influencing others and making a difference than just simply being smart.
I also believe that you both have made the right decision about continuing your education and going to graduate school. Like Kevin, and like both of you, I became very frustrated with the nature of K-12 schools after 6 years of teaching. I was constantly feeling like there was something more or I wanted more of a challenge. I have found tremendous fulfillment in my current career in higher education.
Listening to you both talk about student teaching and your feelings, I am certain that higher education is for you. You are both people who value and seek intellectual stimulation and consistent challenge. I'm confident you'll find this on your path. I'm excited about this study because I'm so looking forward to hearing all your descriptions, thoughts, and feelings as you navigate this road. Quite honestly, documenting this path is something that has never been done before. This is why Kevin and I are interested in this project!
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Re: Transition to Graduate School

Post by Angela_Chambers on Mon Sep 01, 2014 11:37 am

Kevin,

It first began when Kelly and I talked to Karen about wanting to apply. Our minds were only open to applying to UW because we originally thought that only one of us was going to try to get an assistantship, and the other was going to look for a job close to Laramie. We then realized that it may be better to apply to schools in a larger area. One of us could get a master's while the other got a job, and once graduated, it would provide a better opportunity for both of us to get jobs in the same area. We went back to Karen, and she listed several pedagogy programs of quality including UGA, LSU, ASU, and University of Illinois. She also spoke of contacts that she had at each of the schools. My first choice was UGA, and I think it was from listening to Karen describe her experiences in the Ph.D. program there. I could easily picture Kelly myself having those same experiences. She also described to us the relationship she developed with Dr. McCullick. As for LSU, it also seemed like an awesome school to attend, and again, Karen had a close colleague that we could get in contact with, Dr. Garn. When Karen described Dr. Garn, Kelly and I caught wind of a certain bet made during the football season. From that point, he seemed like a fun individual to work with. The other programs that Karen had suggested were never really discussed after speaking with her about UGA and LSU. After submitting of our applications, Kelly and I were in contact with both Dr. McCullick and Dr. Garn. Knowing that those in higher education are very busy, we simply tried to keep in contact with both professors throughout the application and admittance processes. Dr. Garn showed a great deal of interest in getting Kelly and me an assistantship to LSU. There were many nights in which Dr. Garn set aside his time to call us and talk about our futures. I remember the night that he asked if we would be interested in getting a Ph.D., and that was the turning point. A few days after, he offered both Kelly and me an assistantship! We were hesitant at first because we really wanted to see what UGA had to offer, but we ended up pulling the trigger right away. We called Karen right after the offer, and she made us realize that LSU provides a quality pedagogy program and that this was an incredible offer for both of us to get an assistantship. In the end, it was the combination of the program, professor, and assistantships that made us choose LSU.

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Re: Transition to Graduate School

Post by Kelly_Simonton on Mon Sep 01, 2014 1:34 pm

Kevin,
Angela really answered the question perfectly. Our thought process was how and where can we put ourselves in best position to have the professional future we envisioned. That seems to be a hard task regardless what you want to achieve, but to try and achieve those goals when we have the same degree threw another curve into the situation. When we were both offered assistantships and found out earning a Ph.D. was a real possibility our goals changed. Although we will end up in a similar situation, both looking for similar teaching positions, I feel we are driven to be the best in our field. By trying to continue our education at the highest level, I feel we can open up more possibilities for ourselves. The opportunity to move to a new location in the country and experience life in a bigger community was also two benefits of selecting LSU. We were sold on the quality of program they have in Baton Rouge and Dr. Garn also seemed like a good fit as an advisor and mentor for our future in the career. The more we got to speak with Karen and her experiences, the more comfortable I felt in the collegiate setting. Even though I am new to this environment I feel more natural then I felt during student teaching. Like Angela mentioned, there were a variety of factors that directed us to LSU. We did have some options, but getting the extra money and finding out we have opportunities to go beyond a Master's Degree pushed us to attend LSU.

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