IE/Plan II Oral History, Identity and Diversity

J. Tillis"For my Plan II Junior Seminar, I am currently taking Oral History, Identity and Diversity. Our assignment for the semester is to interview three students with different racial/ethnic backgrounds, transcribe and edit those interviews, and perform the oral histories we collect. One of the main focuses of the class is the importance of listening. Dr. Norkunas told us in the beginning of the semester that our listening skills would improve throughout the class, but I was skeptical because I've always considered myself a good listener. Eight classes later, I discovered I was wrong. While I might have been above par in comparison to my peers, my ability to listen to narrators in interviews or my family and friends in everyday life has improved more than I thought possible. We do these listening exercises in class and analyze what it means to be a good listener. I have even taken those exercises outside of class and shared them with friends, so that they can benefit too. I am now a much more open and nonjudgmental listener, and I am learning so much more about those sharing their stories with me. As an aspiring inner city high school teacher, listening will be crucial for making personal connections with my students. Every student will have a story to tell, and I hope to be a perfect vessel for their words. This will develop a mutual respect between my students and me and will help me be a more effective teacher. My pursuit of a teaching certificate through UTeach Liberal Arts has been a defining path throughout my UT days. I learn with every field experience that teaching is my calling. The listening skills I have developed in my Junior Seminar and my involvement in the UTeach track will help me to reach my future students and help me to fulfill my passions."