Monday, April 26, 2010

I am Applying to Grad School!

Personal Statement
St Marys Graduate School of Arts Application
Masters of Arts in Special Education
By Brittany Bettger

Hello! My name is Brittany Bettger. After graduating from Bethel University in 2006, I taught two years in St. Paul Public Schools. I also have one and a half years’ experience substitute teaching in a variety of Twin Cities’ school districts.

During the 2008-09 school year I taught kindergarten at Riverview West Side School of Excellence in St. Paul. The majority of the students in my classroom came from non-English speaking homes, six had Academic Intervention Plans, and several were on IEPs. With this diverse population of students, I taught with the school-wide Success for All (SFA) program, creating a variety of learning centers that met district requirements. With the assistance of my teacher mentors, I established and monitored my own style of classroom management that included daily progress reports and a variety of whole class reward systems.

My interest in a special education program comes from many sources. As a new teacher in the St. Paul school district, I was a classroom teacher with many needy students. My preferred teaching context as a Special Education educator is a personalized, small group setting. I also appreciate opportunities to continue relationships with individual students over the course of several years. Teaching special education students would allow me more opportunities to teach in these preferred ways.

Secondly, during my years as a classroom and substitute teacher, I had the pleasure of working alongside special education teachers and paraprofessionals. At Riverview, because of the needs of my students, I was in constant communication with the school social worker, special education teacher, and speech teacher. I also met occasionally with the district psychologist and the occupational therapist. Observing and learning from the amazing work of these professionals have inspired me to become a special education teacher.

Another reason I desire to earn a degree in Special Education is that I have a deep passion and interest in people who struggle with developmental and cognitive disabilities. Presently, I work for two different companies, ACR Homes, Inc. and Lifeworks where I have the pleasure of assisting adults with disabilities in their home environment. As a personal care attendant, I assist the residents with daily cares, nutrition, medications, leisure activities, and goal setting. I have learned so much from these individuals and I look forward to expanding my experience to include children with disabilities.

My biggest strengths as a human being and a teacher are empathy, compassion and sensitivity. I have a keen ability to experience another’s emotions alongside him or her. Because of my sensitive nature, I am able to see an individual’s need and take action to meet this need. Additional attributes to describe me are dedicated and conscientious. I work to the fullest of my ability to accomplish tasks laid before me. Finally, I am a reflective, self-aware person. In my daily life, I am very conscious of my decisions and how they affect others. I am constantly monitoring my actions, looking for ways that I can learn from my mistakes and become a better person.

One area where I would like to develop greater strengths and abilities is in my self-confidence. I often have creative ideas, but would like to develop greater strength in sharing these ideas with others. Another skill I would like to develop is the ability to balance my hard-working, analytical nature with a more at-ease, intentional temperament. While it is important to accomplish tasks, I do not want my to-do list to infringe on my chance at a stronger relationship with someone, which is of utmost value in life.

A personal element I would like to share involves my tenure at ACR Homes, Inc. When I began working for ACR in 2004, I didn’t realize how radically I would change. The residents with whom I worked at the group home taught me so much about the beautiful and simple things in life. I learned to let go of the things that worried me and focus on them and what made them joyful. My character was greatly strengthened over the course of my time at the home. I became a more giving and loving person and more grateful for all the things in life I take for granted. My experience at ACR Homes has helped me realize what my life’s work is: to share my compassion and creativity with others while also gaining wisdom from them. A career in Special Education is a step I would like to take toward reaching this dream.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Is Escaping Wrong?

It's been forever since I have written. Frankly, a blank page scares me because that's when I have to really think deeply. And I am terrified of what I know is there when I look inside myself. Since I am tired I am going to borrow a bit from a journal recently I wrote about what is going on with me.

I am making myself write because I don't want to. At least I think I don't. I don't look forward to confronting the stuff that is happening inside this brain. Lately I've been getting by with my addictions, namely my novel reading. I love getting lost in the characters' problems. I love forgetting myself by going to another world. I know this isn't wrong to a degree. I've been reading Jodi Piccoult, whose books deal with intense, moral and controversial issues. Hard to put down! She covers themes like self-esteem, popularity, dysfunctional families (whose isn't?), grief, loss, revenge, redemption, betrayal and faith/spirituality. I've learned a lot from her books and I look forward to reading them each day.

But I often feel ashamed or guilty because the themes are so heavy and I tend to become rather anti-social when I read a really good novel (or am otherwise immersed in something deep and passionate, like card-making or writing for example). I don't like coming back to real life because I always know what's going to happen. Lately, I feel guilty because I am not practicing my mindfulness or "with it" skills. That and I am beating myself up for not reading the Bible or having a "quiet time." (What does that mean anyway????) Reading these books has kept me "safe." By that I mean, less bad thoughts, because I am frankly thinking less about my own problems. But it also means, I feel very out of sync. Like I am not even really alive. And that I've been treating others in my life poorly.

I tried to take a break in between the last novel I finished and the current one. So for two days I forced myself to read my Creativity/spirituality book and write in my journal. And it just made me mad and anxious.

The reason I am escaping has to do with, as I said, my thoughts. They are not fun.

As a rule, I try to moderate everything that I do. I am always concerned that I am doing everything right (not too much of this, not too little of that.) I know, I hate that about me but I am not about to start judging my judging, so I will accept that my perfectionism makes me ugly at times but try to accept it.

But I will also thank God for his good and wonderful gifts of creative people who write engaging stories...and many other things. And trust that He loves me no less if I happen to be annoyed with Christian judgements going on in my head, so much to the point that I am resentful of He Himself and the Bible itself. (More on this in another entry).

Well, I am going to go to bed now.