Interview with Bethany Bauman Baker
Special Education Teacher
GC Graduation Year
Why or how did you choose your field? Were there specific experiences that influenced you?
I’ve known I wanted to be a teacher since before I can remember. My dad was a teacher and I loved being in his classroom. I’ve also always loved spending time with children, in structured educational settings through experiences in high school and college, and also in not so structured settings (like childcare, after school programs, and camps).
What’s exciting about your job or this field?
I never know what the children I work with will say or do and I sure am never bored with what I do. I love the challenge (most of the time) of trying to figure out how to help them academically, socially, and behaviorally. They make me laugh and give me so much joy, but also challenge me. I am constantly aware of how I respond to certain comments or behaviors and how it impacts them and the situation, but also if it is in line with the kind of teacher/person I want to be around others.
I also love that throughout my life, there are so many different ways that I can be involved with education. Right now, I have the option of general or special education. In the future, I would love to do more with environmental education (which began out of my class at Mary Lea), reading intervention, counseling, Montessori method, or other alternatives to the traditional education system. I am excited about all the experiences that education will lead me.
What has been a challenge in your career journey?
One of the biggest challenges has been moving around into so many different positions and schools, especially in moving into a different state’s educational system. I still haven’t done the same thing two years in a row and look forward to when that will happen. I have learned a lot through all the different experiences I have had, but know that when I can work in the same school and/or position for a second year that I will be able to get much better at what I do.
It is also always a struggle to know how to respond and help children who have behavior or emotional issues. I am getting better at not getting emotionally involved in students’ behaviors.
I have a tendency to have too high expectations for myself with too little time. It’s always a balancing act of how much to put into my career and what to let go so that I give myself enough time for the other things that I care about in my life.
Looking back, would you do anything differently?
At Goshen, I wished I would have gotten my ENL certification and worked harder to learn Spanish. Other than that, I am glad for the experiences I had in college and that I have had since then.
How did your liberal arts education assist you in your journey? Are there specific examples you can offer?
Being at a liberal arts college, I got a much broader look at teaching and living life. I am grateful for the literature, Bible/religion, art, and social justice related classes I was able to take. I’m sure Goshen College’s emphasis on social justice and service has fostered my desire to work in schools that have a more diverse population (either ethnically or economically) and my involvement currently with Mennonite Mission Network as a Service Adventure leader.
Did anyone offer you some memorable advice that you’d like to pass on? Or…what advice would you give to a young person just starting out?
To current education students: Make sure you get endorsements in anything that you can while in school. I am so grateful for my dual certification in special education and general education. Otherwise, when I moved to New Mexico, I probably wouldn’t have gotten a job.
To all current students or recent graduates: take this time to try out anything you can and get as many different experiences as possible and be open to things that may seem hard or new.