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Lauren Hornbeak, BSEd ’19 — First-Year Teacher Reflection

Lauren HornbeakLauren Hornbeak. BSEd ’19, Secondary Life Sciences
Cypress Creek High School
Cypress Fairbanks ISD
Ninth-grade Biology 

Baylor is a special place, there is no doubt about that. The School of Education not only prepared me to step into my own classroom as a confident teacher, but it also prepared me to step into education as a team player, an advocate, and a safe place to land for my students. It prepared me to see my students as children of God and not just a name on a role sheet. Most importantly, my Baylor professors instilled in me the understanding that I will always be a lifelong learner. Whether it be a coworker or a student, there will always be someone to learn from. With this understanding, I felt assured to seek guidance when I needed help — whether with the RTI process, challenging students, or contacting parents. The first semester was a long one filled with “learnable” moments, but nothing could have prepared me for the spring.

Hornbeak studentI felt like I finally had my feet under me when COVID-19 hit and our schools shut down. Needless to say, this was not something I felt prepared to take on headfirst. I was one of the lucky ones, because my district provided an online learning platform for our students to complete their work. Explaining clear expectations for students at the beginning, maintaining contact with students and parents, and checking on student progress every day were a few things that worked well for me during this unprecedented time. I found parents to be overwhelmed with the sudden amount of communication they were getting from their child’s school. To combat this, I sent email updates to my parents and asked them to respond with their child’s name and invited them to contact me with any questions. I explained in the first email the expectations I had for their students and that if their child made contact with me during the week, I would not have to call them on Thursday and Friday. These emails allowed parents to step into their student’s education as an informed partner, rather than a disciplinarian.

Hornbeak studentRemotely or in person, teachers get the privilege of doing life with students and walking beside them on the hard days and celebrating with them on the great days. When you love your students as images of Christ, you take the extra step to become what they need you to be. I was a shoulder to cry on when a student lost their father. I was a “go to” staff member for a parent who needed extra assistance during Learning at Home. I was a mentor when a student was failing all of their classes with four days left until the end of the grading period. I was also his cheerleader when he managed to pull up all of his grades to passing and was moved to the starting position on both sides of the ball on his football team. While this profession is not for the faint of heart, especially with student hormones involved, I would not trade it for anything in the world.