On teaching

Sunday, December 1, 2013

I read a book titled, "Why do only white people get abducted by aliens?" By Ilana Garon. It's an expository nonfiction about a young high school teacher teaching in none other than the Bronx! She's a middle-class, white girl...like me. It has been fun relating to her experiences and stories. She started out with the New York teaching fellows program and has now taught for 10 years.

After my experience so far I am impressed that she has made it for that many years. Here is an excerpt from the conclusion that discusses why Ilana teaches:
"It was the sense of doing work that was concrete, interactive, of knowing that it would matter to someone if I didn't show up one morning... To say I felt guilty isn't quite accurate; it was more that I had become sort of single-mindedly focused on trying to make up to them the things I felt they had unjustly missed. 
That, and I liked teaching. "It's addictive," one of my mentors told me, "because it's so f--ing hard. And when you do it successively, it's a high...it feels amazing."
I couldn't agree more. Teaching is so hard, and this year has definitely made me more grateful for the great teachers I had. People know teaching is hard, but they don't know how hard it is until they do it. This is probably one of the reasons why so many people have quit City year so far and it's only been 3 months. My team alone has lost 3 people, which is 25% of the team. Many other teams all over New York are losing corps members at the same rate. The amount of skill needed to be a good teacher still overwhelms me. You need to be engaging, have tough skin, have lots of knowledge, have great organization and planning skills, be a good communicator with not only the students but parents and faculty. You need to be alert and have energy ALL the time. You need to know when to be funny and humorous with the students, and then know how to "bring it back," as a teacher would say.  I could elaborate more on these qualities, but I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. Pretty much all of us have seen teachers in action at some point in our life. 
The one class I teach is an art club during our after school program. The rest of the day I tutor and support my teacher in the classroom. When I teach those classes I either walk away feeling a little defeated or I walk away with that "high" that Ilana talked about. It's so satisfying when I'm teaching and things are going well. I hope to keep getting better as the months go on.
*Pulse check on my future* this year is a little bit of a trial run to discover if I want to pursue a career in education. Working with students is harder than I thought it would be and I'm struggling with seeing results in the students. I would love to work in the education field, but I'm second guessing whether classroom teaching is for me. I can see the traditional classroom teaching model evolving because classroom learning doesn't work for lots of students and technology is rapidly becoming more prevalent in schools. 

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