Brandon Yee (pictured above), from Media, Pennsylvania, is a second-year student in the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program at the University of Pittsburgh School of Education. In this Q&A, he discusses his path to Pitt Education, why he chose to pursue the MAT program, and what he thinks it means to be an educator. His quotes have been edited for length and clarity.
Can you tell us about your background before coming to Pitt Education?
I have always been fascinated with my Chinese heritage and have longed to live in China to learn about the culture firsthand and to speak Mandarin fluently. I started learning Chinese at 18 years old, studied hard as a Chinese major at Pitt, sought out language immersion programs domestically and abroad, and achieved an Advanced-Mid spoken ability and Advanced-High written proficiency through ACTFL.
Having learned Chinese as a second language, I truly appreciate the many challenges foreign language learners face, especially since Chinese is vastly more difficult because of the complex reading and writing system.
Why did you decide to pursue a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT)?
After graduating from college, I was accepted into the The Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) Teach in China Basics program for teaching English as a Second Language (ESL). I was prepared to move to mainland China in early 2020; however, due to the pandemic, the program was canceled. Thus, I transitioned to teaching ESL to Chinese students online. Over the past two years, I have taught over 4,275 classes, receiving 99.1% five-star ratings in reviews. In the process, I discovered that I have a strong passion for teaching.
How has Pitt Education prepared you for a career in education?
Pitt Education has a wonderful program that teaches pedagogical methods, theories, and strategies for all aspects of being an effective teacher in the classroom. The combination of the internship and classes may be intense, but it is worth it because I will get an official Instructional I Certification, which is required to become a licensed teacher in Pennsylvania and other states that are reciprocal with the teaching license. By the end of the program, I will be more than prepared to enter the workforce and may want to pursue further graduate studies to become a curriculum design leader in the future.
What do you enjoy most about the MAT program and Pitt Education in general?
I really enjoy the opportunity to spend time with my small cohort of five other world language teachers. We have built a sense of community among ourselves and learn and grow together as we all go through the rigorous yet rewarding process of becoming licensed teachers.
What does it mean to you to be an educator?
An educator is a leader, an inspiring role-model. Someone who helps others become open-minded, creative, and critical thinkers, and even a friend. Great educators not only impart knowledge onto students but lead them to the process of discovery. They guide students towards becoming independent, successful, caring, culturally aware, accepting, and communicatively competent people. Our job as educators is so important because we help shape the next generation..
What’s a fun fact about yourself that most people don’t know?
I am a triplet! This is something that I often forget to tell people because it is normal for me. We are fraternal and I have an older and younger brother, making me the middle child.