Shelby Bandy has learned that teaching can give you superpowers. Since becoming an 8th Grade Language Arts teacher at Jenkins Middle School in Colorado Springs, she has leveraged cross-curriculum lesson plans and classroom management skills to inspire continual learning and creative growth among students, all while conducting class both remotely and at school.
But Bandy’s powers don’t just come from instinct. She developed them through the University of Colorado Colorado Springs Teacher Education and Licensure Program (TELP).
TELP combines a Bachelor degree in either English, Social Studies, World Languages, Mathematics or Science with an Elementary or Secondary Education Teaching Licensure, so undergraduate students can get foundational knowledge in subjects, then teach them.
As a lover of the written word, Bandy chose to study English and, as a kid at heart, she got a Secondary Licensure to teach 8th grade.
“I liked middle school because I could still be a silly goofball and they wouldn’t think I was weird,” Bandy says, with a laugh.
Before deciding on becoming a Language Arts teacher, Bandy was at MSU Denver planning to become a Physical Therapist or Speech-Language Pathologist, but the school and concentrations didn’t feel like the right fit. Looking for her next step, Bandy thought back to her Journalism teacher at Smoky Hill High School, Carrie Faust.
“She made a really big impact in my life. I wanted to facilitate that same experience for my students one day.”
Because Bandy’s boyfriend at the time (now husband) was attending UCCS, she found the TELP program and decided to become a Language Arts teacher. Right away, she was impressed with how attentive UCCS was in helping her make the transition.
“I had the best counselor ever. Every time I went into his office, he made me feel good about myself and told me exactly what I needed to do, so he led me to a good amount of success.”
Part of that success also came from Bandy’s professors, who translated their real-life expertise into useful knowledge that she still uses in the classroom today.
Meanwhile, her coursework applied directly to what she was pursuing.
“I think it’s important teachers have real-life experiences,” Bandy explains. “I took a psychology class and it was all about child psychology, in a classroom, so it was very applicable.”
Bandy was also given useful hands-on learning from day one that applied toward her licensure, which required more than 90 hours of in-classroom instruction. After so many hours spent in front of students, she was ready to take on teaching.
“I felt like I was in my second year right when I graduated. I knew the responsibilities I was going to have to take on.”
This was helped along by the many partnerships UCCS has with local schools. Upon graduating, Bandy landed a teaching position at Jenkins Middle School after completing her licensure hours there.
Now, she has been putting her TELP skills to use at Jenkins creating in-depth lessons that combine Language Arts and Social Studies subjects.
Throughout four separate quarters over the school year, Bandy’s kids will learn about literature and writing in the contexts of of Suspense, Morality, World War II, and the Civil Rights Movement. And while it may seem odd that Bandy would combine curriculums, she knows it’s the future of teaching.
“In the TELP program, you actually train alongside Social Studies teachers,” Bandy says. “We work together to talk about the different types of teaching we’re using, and our different methods and resources.”
Bandy is also collaborating with her colleagues to stop burnout among educators. Not just by providing a few tips and tricks for new hires, but by dispelling negative notions about teachers altogether.
“Teachers are held to really high standards,’” Bandy says. “So I wanted to make sure I was this perfect person who never made mistakes and knew everything. Then you get into the classroom and realize that no teacher is like that.”
With this, Bandy began setting better boundaries for herself, embracing things she loved to do outside of the classroom.
“It’s really easy to let your job take over your whole life — if someone is getting into teaching, they can’t pour from an empty cup, they need to fill themselves back up with what they enjoy.”
In the midst of COVID-19, this idea really resonates with Bandy. To her, if there’s one positive out of this, it’s that both students and families now see how much teachers do for communities.
“A lot of people are seeing the benefits to teachers and the powers that we have,” Bandy concludes. “That we’re not babysitting, we’re educating.”
Read more UCCS Success Stories here.