May 27, 2011 1 Comment
The past 7 days in the classroom have certainly been interesting to say the least. I went from being extremely nervous and excited when I arrived, to enthusiastic when I first met my mentor teacher and students, to discouraged when I was exposed to the downfalls in urban education, and finally encouraged to become the best teacher I can possibly become and the best mentor for my students. This transformation has solidified my desire to become a teacher and I am now sure that I will do whatever it takes to constantly improve my teaching practices and my pedagogical framework in order to best fit the needs of my students.
Much of this transformation is a result of the practical knowledge my teacher has passed on to me throughout the past week and a half. I honestly could not have asked for a better mentor teacher. Mr. King would probably be one of my favorite teachers if I were still a high school student. He practices an authoritative style of teaching where he demands much from his students, but at the same time listens to their input and works with their needs. His most effective attribute is definitely his humor. Mr. King incorporates humor into every aspect of his classroom from the time students walk in the door and shake his hand to when the students are diligently working in small groups or individually. I think that it is this unwavering sense of humor that allows him to truly connect to his students and gain their trust and respect. Humor is his own personal means of creating close relationships with each student, which allows him to gain insight into their lives outside of the classroom. As a result, Mr. King knows his students very well and is able to cater to their needs while still effectively teaching his class.
I truly admire Mr. King’s relationship with his students as well as his colleagues and I hope to incorporate his methods of using humor to gain trust and further relationships in my own pedagogical framework. I love to laugh and use humor as well so I think that by combining this quality with an authoritative teaching style that encourages academic progress, I will create a positive learning environment where kids are excited to learn and have fun while doing so.
Another aspect of my individual transformation throughout my involvement in the Philadelphia Urban Seminar is my realization of how truly unique urban students can be. As I got to know each of my students better, I noticed just how unique and individual and strong each of them are. My students were always joking and always having a good time in Mr. King’s classroom. I found this amazing because I was informed with the problems that many of these children face at home such as a single parent household, little to no food, a parent or sibling that is in jail or even teenage pregnancy. The fact that these kids can go from such unstable and sometimes depressing home lives to such a positive and lighthearted environment really says something about their characters. I also noticed that despite the heavy social influence or peer pressure on all of these students, none of the students I had seemed to conform to a norm or an urban school stereotype. These students are not hesitant to reveal their talents and abilities especially in the open environment that Mr. King created in the classroom. These kids persevere through so much and I admire their strength. I truly believe that with the right teaching practices, any teacher can reach out to these students and unearth their strengths and gifts.
I am so fortunate to have involved myself in the Philadelphia Urban Seminar because I really think it has encouraged me to become the best teacher I can possibly be. This program has opened my eyes to the reality of urban education and the struggles of each and every urban student. I now feel energized and inspired to enter into a career of teaching and I can definitely see myself in an urban setting. Going back to the first article we read for this class, Note to Educators: Hope Required When Growing Roses in Concrete, it is our job as educators to “collectively struggle to replace the concrete completely with a rose garden.” I know I am up for this challenge and I hope all of you will join me as well in a journey towards educational attainment and equality in all schools.