Spotlight: Bradley Smith

Spotlight: Bradley Smith

By Timothy Dohrer


Bradley Smith was part of the Accelerated Master of Science in Education program as an undergraduate and is now an MSEd student. Bradley is a future secondary math teacher.

Q: What makes you want to be a teacher?
A: I just got asked this question yesterday by one of my students--and she asked why I wanted to teach math (a subject that she hates) specifically. I want to teach because I want to help students who struggle with math or aren't particularly keen on the subject to not only find success in the math classroom, but to see math in their everyday lives. I want them to be able to find math in their passions, and hopefully see those passions and the world a little bit differently as a result. I also want to instill a sense of comfort and confidence within each and every one of my students: to help them get through whatever problems they're going through in the moment, to equip them to tackle the problems of the world, and to help them feel proud and happy with their individual identities.

Q: Why did you choose Northwestern University’s MSEd Program?
A: I was actually an undergraduate here at Northwestern when I decided to apply to the MSEd program. The summer before my senior year, I was looking at teacher preparation programs around the country, and had vaguely considered Northwestern, thanks to a gentle push by one of the advisors, Meg Kreuser. But the fact that I could already start the program as a senior, get almost half of my credits completed as an undergraduate, and then finish the program in one year is what really made Northwestern my number one choice. I had also heard only great things about other students' experiences in the program: from its forward-thinking pedagogy to excellent supports and systems in candidates' practicum, student-teaching, and licensure.

Q: What were you doing prior to starting at Northwestern?
A: Before starting the MSEd program I was an undergraduate math major here at Northwestern. I already had experiences in teaching, assistant teaching, and tutoring math through programs like Breakthrough Collaborative, N'CAT Tutors, and the Center for Talent Development.

Q: What is the sense of community like in the MSEd program at Northwestern?
A: LOVELY! I love how small the cohort is because I really feel like I'm in a family while I'm rotating through different classes. It's an incredibly supportive and sharing bunch, so I can't wait to start student-teaching and hearing about everyone's experiences.

Q: Are there any particularly memorable moments from within the classroom at Northwestern you would like to share?
A: One of the most memorable classes I took here at Northwestern was Social Contexts of Education, which dealt largely with the intersections of social factors like race and socioeconomic status with education. This class really blew my mind in helping me to see the inequalities present in our education system and in turn really helped to alter the type of educator that I want to be. In addition to hearing about and discussing our instructors' and fellow classmates' individual experiences, we also made trips to events at the Chicago Teachers Union, for example, or at ETHS to hear Ta-Nehisi Coates speak. All in all, that class in particular has kickstarted a level of thinking and action against racism and other forms of marginalization that makes me all the more excited and humbled to be an educator.

Q: What are you most excited about for student teaching? The most nervous about?
A: Having already met my future students in my practicum, I can't wait to continue to build relationships with them individually and as a group. I'm also excited to pilot a lot of the ideas that I've been working on in classes. From connecting geometry to gerrymandering or combinatorics to Spotify playlists, I've garnered a number of real-world connections for math that I can't wait to introduce to my students and see how they react to it. That being said, I'm also nervous about my role in replacing my mentor teachers. Although I know that their support will be essential to my success, I'm still concerned about just how far I can deviate from their own policies, styles, and procedures without losing buy-in from my students or shaking their world too much.

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