Putting on my surprised face

I don’t like surprises. Gift exchanges and Secret Santas are completely lost on me. I like to know whose names everyone drew before the day we open presents. My husband threw me a “surprise” 40th birthday party last year. Please don’t tell him that I knew. Apparently I am cursed with the need to be the first to know and then to be the one you heard it from. As a journalist, however, this “curse” served me well.

When I was asked to write about what surprised me most about the MAT@USC program, my first instinct was to say “nothing.” I did a significant amount of research before enrolling and chose the MAT program based on my needs (see last week’s post). But as I was putting the finishing touches on our Learning Theory group paper, I realized that there was something that surprised me very much — my classmates.

That’s not a bad thing or a good thing, I just didn’t have an expectation about the relationship I would have or not have with my classmates back in September. I knew we would be interacting during class and in study groups, and I looked forward to that, but I didn’t think about forming friendships. I was focused on understanding our class readings and discussions, keeping up with forums and papers, and being prepared to participate in class.

So, I’m here today to say I’m pleasantly surprised. My classmates in the September Cohort are a brilliant, diverse, interesting, and caring group of people. Without them, my experience with the program would be significantly altered. Within our classes we are able to exchange differing points of view, personal experiences, and suggestions that could help each of us in the classroom. All that is great, but the relationship doesn’t end there. My classmates and I exchange emails of encouragement. We exchange papers for proofing. We have found common interests to just chat about. We commiserate with one another over grades and workloads. We look out for one another — sharing information from when to take the Praxis to where to find cheap textbooks.

I am proud to be a part of the MAT@USC program for so many reasons — ones that I expected — but the one I didn’t foresee may be one of the most valuable, that of the relationships I have with my classmates. While I will carry everything I’ve learned from all of the fantastic professors I’ve had thus far into my classroom, I also will carry into my classroom new worldviews, instructional strategies, and, most importantly, a network of support with teachers just like me across the country.

I may have to rethink my position on surprises!

Until next week … Fight On!