Emily Anderson ’15 (ED), ’16 MA spent the fall semester of her master’s year in England as part of the Neag School’s Study Abroad Teaching Internship Program. In England, Anderson taught students in the U.S. equivalent of second grade at Roxeth Primary School, a highly diverse, multifaith school in suburban London, where about 40 different languages are spoken by the student body. Anderson, who played lacrosse for four years at UConn, is a graduate of the Neag School’s Integrated Bachelor’s/Master’s program.
Hometown: Killingworth, Conn.
Concentration: Elementary education, English
How did you come to be interested in pursuing a career in education? “I’m the oldest of five children, so growing up, I was always teaching — whether I knew it or not. It’s always been something I’ve been passionate about, and once I was in the Neag School, the more I was in the classroom, there were reassurances that this is where I’m supposed to be, what I’m supposed to be doing.”
Why did you decide to apply for this Teaching Internship Program? “Being on the lacrosse team all four [undergraduate] years, I could never study abroad. So when this opportunity came up, where I was able to finish my four years on the team with my eligibility, and get to study abroad, and come over and do this work in this school, was kind of the best of both worlds. I feel so fortunate and lucky to have been able to do this.”
How has your time teaching in London changed your approach in the classroom? “I gained more confidence in myself as a teacher. Seeing how the [British] teachers are able to stick to their expectations and really hold their students to those expectations, I think every student knows what’s expected of them. I think through watching them, I’ve noticed a change in myself and in how I interact with the students — holding them to high expectations as well. That’s been the most exciting thing for me, being able to learn from them. They have been amazing mentors.”
What has been different about teaching in classrooms in the U.K.? “The diversity is taken to a whole new level. That was one of the most exciting things, just getting to know the diversity of my students.”
“I’ve noticed a change in myself and in how I interact with the students — holding them to high expectations.” Emily Anderson ’15 (ED), ’16 MA
Do you have a favorite moment from your teaching experience in London? “There’s maybe not one moment, but all of the little moments strung together that keep you going. … I taught a lesson during Thanksgiving, where the students traced their hands and, on each feather, they wrote something they were thankful for. They were having fun, and I went around looking at what they were writing. It was things such as ‘I’m thankful for my religion’ — things I never had seen before. It was really exciting to see. My favorite moment was getting to that lesson and really getting to know my students.”
What has been most positive about this experience? “The connections that I have made and, overall, the school and staff have really just been more than welcoming; they really made us feel at home, which led to the ease and comfort of being able to get the most out of the experience. … Thanks to the Neag School for offering this, because it’s not something everyone gets to do. You can study abroad, but you are getting to study abroad in your actual major, and be in a physical setting for what you’re actually doing, not just taking classes.”
What’s one takeaway from your time in London that you will carry with you? “Being here has definitely opened up a world of possibility, with respect to me looking to maybe come over here and teach in the future. … Stepping out of my comfort zone of home and of Connecticut, and being part of the school system here, has opened up new doors.”