An Interview with Dessa Delfin
“Although a program in early childhood education requires a lot of work, you should leave time for yourself while earning your degree.”
Dessa Delfin is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies from Texas State University in San Marcos. As a part of her degree, she is also pursuing certification in elementary and middle school teaching. Dessa transferred to Texas State University after 2 years at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas.
Dessa chose to study early childhood education in her interdisciplinary studies program because she feels called to work with children. After getting her degree, she hopes to become a choir teacher at an elementary school. Dessa currently hosts an educational show for children, which she considers good practice for her future career goals.
In your own words, what is early childhood education?
Early childhood education is the study of how to most effectively educate pre-adolescent children, with an emphasis on how to accommodate their developmental and behavioral differences. The first few years of a child’s life are extremely important, because children absorb and retain more information during those years than during any other period. In addition, early childhood education stresses that teachers develop the character and intellect of their pupils by being role models, not merely instructors.
Why did you choose to study early childhood education?
I chose to study early childhood education because approximately 1 year ago I realized that I loved being around children, and there was no better way to be around them than to teach. I felt like it was my calling in life to work with children. I would eventually like to be a role model to young children in the same way that I remember my elementary school teachers were role models for me.
When you first considered studying early childhood education what were your expectations?
When I first began my studies at Texas State University, I thought I would graduate with a degree in theater. Through my experience working with children’s theater, I started to think about a career in that arena. I did not know how greatly my work with small children would affect me, and I changed my major as a result.
More generally, when I began school, I did not anticipate the level of freedom I would have as a college student. I was surprised at the independence I suddenly had, and at how academic guidance was provided by my professors, as opposed to my high school teachers.
What do you find most and least enjoyable about studying early childhood education?
The most enjoyable aspect of studying early childhood education is getting to work with children. On several occasions I have participated in class field trips to elementary schools. I was able to spend a day with children and get a good idea about what my job will be like after I graduate.
On the other hand, I would say that the least enjoyable aspect of studying early childhood education is the amount of time that it demands. Aside from teaching during class hours, teachers also have to take their students’ work home to grade. They have to prepare each day’s lesson too. These extra responsibilities take away time from activities such as spending time with family and friends.
What kinds of classes have you taken in your early childhood education program?
In my early childhood education program, I have taken several very interesting classes about the elements of teaching. For instance, I studied the fundamentals of education and its history to see what methods educators have used in the past. That class also taught me how education affects areas such as the economy and government. I am also taking a class this semester about how to infuse music theory and education into my academic lesson plans. I enjoy that class, plus I have received a lot of information and classroom resources.
Which of these classes do you think will be most valuable for your future goals?
My practicum classes have been most valuable because I have had the opportunity to visit elementary schools and work with the children there. Those visits have been useful practical lessons on how to act around children, as well as what kind of behavior to expect from them. Sometimes I get to interact with their parents as well, which is an overlooked skill that is very important for teachers to have.
What classes do you feel will be least useful?
I cannot say that any of my early childhood education classes are not useful. Every teaching class I have taken has been beneficial to my learning experience and has helped shape my vision as a future teacher. Whether the class is about learning to work with special education students or learning about art in elementary school, all of the information that I obtain and the resources I receive are very important.
What resources do you use to help you succeed in your studies?
The resource that I use most is the university library. I try to read as much as I can about whatever I am teaching so I am better equipped to create lesson plans.
Have you done an internship in your field?
Internships are required during the last semester of my bachelors program, so I will probably volunteer at a school or summer camp when I reach that point in my program. I will have the opportunity to set up my own internship, but if I cannot find something suitable on my own, the advisors at Texas State University will use their excellent connections to place me in an internship.
What personality traits do you think would help a student to succeed in a early childhood education program and what traits would hinder success?
Students of early childhood education should be good communicators. Teachers have to be able to communicate effectively with students and their parents who can have very different personalities and backgrounds.
Of course, a trait that would hinder a student of early childhood education is impatience. Sometimes children need to have lessons repeated to them in different ways before they really understand them, and an impatient teacher cannot effectively repeat information.
What is your weekly schedule?
My weekly schedule revolves around my daily studies. I try to budget some time to review the material that I am learning in each class before I head to school for the day. I go to class after my morning review. Class lasts several hours, so when it is finished, I go back to my home to start my homework. Despite how hard I study, I find that I have adequate free time for a social life. I think it is important for prospective college students of any subject to balance their studies with relaxation.
How do you manage your course load? What study tips would you give to a prospective student?
I manage my course load by taking lots of notes during class. Taking notes helps me retain information and do a better job on my homework. In fact, I recommend all prospective early childhood education students refine their note-taking skills.
What are your plans for after graduation?
After graduation, I plan to work as an elementary school choir teacher. I have not researched extensively what my job prospects will be after graduation, but I am fairly confident I will be able to get a teaching job with this degree that will pay $40,000 to $50,000 per year.
Now that you have completed 3 years of your early childhood education program, if you could go back to high school, what would you do differently?
If I could go back to high school, I would not do anything differently. I am glad that I started my undergraduate education right after high school, because I know people who took time and had difficulty settling back into the student mentality. And even though I started college as a theater major, I feel that I gained valuable communications skills through that program.
What advice do you have for students who are interested in studying early childhood education?
I would advise students to keep in mind that life is all about balance. As a student, you have to learn how to do all of your work and enjoy life at the same time. Although a program in early childhood education requires a lot of work, you should leave time for yourself while earning your degree. That will be important when you are a professional, too.