Wednesday, May 11, 2005

ON BEING A NEOPHYTE TEACHER

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It seems just yesterday when I was in tears after my students cussed me...

How many times have my co-teachers seen me crying outside my classroom ready to walk-out and leave without coming back? I wasn’t used to being disrespected this way by my students. Less than two years ago, back in my country I was highly respected being one of the youngest and most efficient special ed school owner. It took awhile before it sank-in to me that I wasn’t in my home country anymore, I am in America now. I am now an employee teaching in an inner-city public school, where my students are challenged most especially outside the school in what’s supposedly their most trusted environment.

Being an inner city school teacher is very challenging. I feel like Michelle Pfiffer in the movie “Dangerous Minds”. This story goes almost as similar with my story: Teacher and ex-marine Louanne Johnson accepts a full-time job at East Palo Alto high school without realizing that the students in her class are smart, but with social problems. She either must give up or learn how to get the students’ attention and help them learn.Guess how the story ended.

Will my story end the same way?

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It seems just yesterday when I was in the dark searching about the state standards, the special ed curriculum, teaching strategies that would work with the kind of students I have…

This is going to be my second year in teaching and my first year was disastrous, not only did I not get help from my supposed in-school teacher mentor (the in-school teacher mentor and my special ed coordinator are two different persons) but I was expected to perform like a veteran teacher. I got help from very few good teachers in my school but one thing I learned as a new teacher, I cannot rely on anybody but myself in surviving inside my classroom. I attended many professional development trainings for new teachers offered by the district just to LEARN and RE-LEARN everything....and everything seems new to me (it still is). The educational system is very different from the country where I came from.

I eventually learned that as special ed teachers we are supposed to revise the given curriculum to suit the needs of our exceptional students. Well then, I was trained last summer for the research based art-literature curriculum pioneered by Beth Olshansky. Not only did I fall in love with it, I was so sure it would work well with my students. I adopted it in my classroom.

In one of the professional development workshops sponsored by the district was the DCAWP sponsored “Festival of Writing”. I don’t remember how I started pouring out my frustration to Judith (director of DCAWP). I was so recharged and energized after the said workshop that I asked her to help me organize my teaching portfolio so at least I could have something to show my principal during the end-of-school professional evaluations. I wanted to show that I was trying to meet her expectations (I was hoping I could get some points for “trying”). Then after, I was lucky to have been selected to the DCAWP Summer Institute where I learned a lot from veteran teachers (I was told they seldom get new teachers as fellows, lucky me!). The DCAWP Teacher Consultants told us that the Summer Institute was going to change our lives.

It surely did.

READ MY LATEST ENTRY IN MY OTHER BLOG

5 comments:

Soul_Seeker said...

Hey, take it easy. Kaya mo yan. I know a Filipina who teaches special ed in an inner-city school here in Chicago. 3 years na yata siya dito. Her experience is similar to yours. She once said she thinks of her job as a "mission" in order to cope with the stress of dealing with her students. Take care!

Patrice said...

am proud of you simply because you are the kind of person who is willing to overcome obstacles such as cultural difference. true, everything here in the US is so different but Pinoys that we are, we survive and are respected for it.

TEACHER SOL said...

SOUL_SEEKER, I think lahat kaming special ed teachers dito pare-pareho ng experiences, we are faced with low level bad behavior everyday, kaya nga problem sila sa teaching profession eh at tayong mga Pilipino ang ini-import nila. Thinking of our job as a vocation is a positive way of coping nga. tanks for the tip.

PATRICE, it's indeed true, iba ang Pinoy. I compare us Filipino Teachers sa ibang teachers ng ibang lahi, angat talaga tayo sa karamihan sa kanila. Nurses and ITs dito ganun din ang sinasabi nila. Karamihan ng Pinoy dito nasa professional jobs at di laborers lang o baby sitters, contrary to what we heard nung nasa Pinas pa tayo. I'm proud of us too.

Jayred said...

Hi, Teacher Sol! Seems like your teaching job there is very challenging (I know that Michelle P. movie; it was based on a true story). But I know that with your hard work and tenacity -- and above all, your prayers -- you can do it. And yes, you're Pinoy. :-)

Have a nice weekend!

TEACHER SOL said...

salamat, JAYRED...thanx din dahil binabasa mo pala ang past entries ko. Iba talaga ang Pinoy!

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