Sunday, January 21, 2007

Teach for America as chronicled

Teach For America is the national corps of outstanding recent college graduates of all academic majors who commit two years to teach in urban and rural public schools and become leaders in the effort to expand educational opportunity. Teach for America corps members are a diverse group of talented recent college graduates who possess the leadership skills needed to make a real impact over the short- and long- term.

While bloghopping, I stumbled upon the online journal of a corps member, Nikki's "Inner City Life". Reading her accounts during her Institute made me emotional and gave me tears in my eyes. I am not alone in all that I have experienced and what I am experiencing...and like me, I believe she will not only survive but thrive!

She tells in her entry: I shared about how we should all have HIGH EXPECTATIONS for our SP ED students and that I am here today because I had people hold me to such expectations in my life. I was nervous and scared. I didn't know how people were going to react, what I didn't expect was everyone standing up clapping and what seemed like thousands of questions there after........and how quickly become the "go to" person for special ed questions.

How the same are our students: These guys are wild, and the lack of any sense of consistent discipline in the 5th and 6th grade goes far to encourage their wanton ways. They spent last year in a self-contained classroom running amuck, terrorizing a string of subs ( and various teachers who came and went) and generally digressing academically at warp speed. Their ability levels are dramatically different from what their work suggests, due to behavior problems, a mortally wounding lack of focus and a general air of disinterest. They are not convinced that school is worthwhile, and that is what I am working to correct. I want them to want to learn. They can do it, but I can’t do it for them, try though I do.

And I say: 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. (as posted in my entry)

Guess how the story ended...will our story end the same way?

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