When Sandra Cochrane discovered her love for teaching, she came to UNG for the tools to start her next career.
My time at UNG helped me turn my passion into a successful second career.
After working for 20 years in the computer software field as an applications development manager and having three children, I made the decision to be a stay at home mom. As they grew older, I was ready to go back to work, but I also wanted to pursue a master's degree and originally considered pursuing an MBA. However, I had frequently volunteered at my children's schools, and there was one particular program I enjoyed that let parent volunteers come in and teach a math class. I did this one day a week for three years, and really enjoyed connecting with the students as well as teaching problems that pushed beyond their normal curriculum.
As a result, I began to consider teaching as a second career. I then asked other teachers about their recommendations for a solid teaching program, and a majority recommended the University of North Georgia. After earning my Master of Arts (MAT) in teaching in 2014, I am now in my third year of teaching 7th and 8th grade math, and I'm pursuing my high school certification.
This career is incredibly rewarding; it means a great deal to me to make a difference and get that feedback from students, and especially to see the "lightbulb" turn on when they understand a concept.
I've also enjoyed implementing what I learned in the MAT program and seeing those concepts bear fruit, such as the importance of developing a solid classroom management plan. Teachers may be brilliant at content knowledge, but unless they are able to create a stable and positive learning environment, learning can become difficult or even impossible.
My master's thesis is about identifying teacher's perceptions of the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards and their impact on education. Standardized testing and legislative changes to education are always hot topics, and I wanted to learn more about how teachers feel about them and the changes the profession has undergone. Dr. Josh Cuevas worked with me and even submitted my thesis to several different journals, including the Georgia Educational Researcher, which subsequently published my thesis in June 2015. Working one-on-one with faculty and getting a successful publication at the master's level was a very validating experience, and was definitely the highlight of my MAT experience.