5 Things I Learned as an Adult Learner

Michelle Koenighain, Head Start teacher
With over 25 years of experience in early childhood/early childhood special education and currently a full-time Head Start Pre-K teacher and curriculum director, Michelle decided to add one more thing to her busy schedule – an early childhood bachelor's degree online. She started learning far more than she could have imagined! 

  1. It’s never too late to pursue your dreams and goals!   I have always wanted to take the plunge into continuing my education, but it was never a good time in my life to start. With a busy lifestyle and family life, not to mention a full-time teaching job, I couldn’t imagine fitting one more thing into my schedule! Until I found out I can take it all online at Northwestern with help by a T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood ® Iowa Scholarship. They want to pay me to go back to school so that I can pursue my dream? NOW is the time!
  2. It’s a balancing act
    This is a fact. Going back to school has helped me become more organized and more efficient with my time. I can now watch my daughters play travel softball in another state while writing lesson plans, talking with a preschool parent, and writing a college paper about being a resilient educator. Finding out how to take care of yourself so that you can take care of others is an important first step in this process. I schedule out time for everything and learn to plan and prep. There will be times where you feel a little overwhelmed or second guess yourself for taking “the plunge” into adult learning but keep your goals in mind and find time to relax.
  3. You are making a difference!
    Setting a strong foundation for children in early childhood is something I have a passion for. This role comes with much responsibility and is a very rewarding and challenging role. I like to know that I am going back to college to help myself be the best I can be for my students, their families, and my colleagues. In my classroom, I feel confident and happy now that I have the tools to become more intentional in my teaching. It also shows in the excitement of my students and their motivation for learning.
  4. Live to inspire & lead
    I receive amazing support from my Northwestern advisor, T.E.A.C.H. advisor, instructors, and peers. We learn from each other and give each other the guidance it takes to become successful in our careers and college classes.  Since taking classes I feel that I have learned to become a good leader and colleague. I have accepted a Curriculum Director position at my school along with my teaching job and love to help my colleagues achieve their goals in their classrooms.
  5. Progress & growth
    I feel that everything I am learning in my classes is helping not only my classroom and teachings but my school and team of colleagues. I love to see quality care and teaching happening all around me. Knowing that you are part of a much bigger picture brings me satisfaction in all that I work hard for.

About the Author 
Michelle Koenighain is a wife and mother of two children, two dogs, and a cat. She is the Head Start Pre-K teacher and curriculum director with the Wlliamsburg (IA) Community Child Care Center-Head Start. She has a passion for teaching young children and building a good foundation for a lifetime of learning. Michelle is currently earning her Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood online with Northwestern College. Learn more about the B.A. Early Childhood online program