Thursday, October 23, 2008

School Days

I’ve had immense fortune in the good teacher department; my 5th grade teacher, 7th grade Science teacher, high school English teacher and a favorite Education professor in college, just to name a few.

On the other hand, I’ve only had two teachers who I truly believe should have checked a different box when their college applications what their intended careers were.

Nevertheless, each of these exceptionally great or terrible teachers affected me in some way. (Maybe the bad ones more than the good ones in some cases- as my fellow classmates pointed out in last week’s discussion board.)

These teachers, along with inventive ways to make learning exciting and challenging, have left me with a slew of vivid memories I carry.

As I said last week on the discussion board, my 7th grade Science teacher impacted me in a huge way. She was not the most beloved teacher, but, the amount of admiration I have for her made up for any lack other students showed. After the worst school year I ever had (see the next paragraph) this teacher taught me that I could love school again. She ignited the fire that was smothered the previous year. The confidence, happiness and hunger for learning that I once had returned even bigger and is a huge reason I am a teacher and that I still love learning, about anything, more than most people.

My worst teacher could probably win an award for her utter lack of compassion, respect and human decency; that’s how horrible she was as a teacher. In fact, several of my 6th grade classmates left the school because of her incessant criticism, verbal abuse and even discrimination. Almost every day I would wake up and be sick because of the fear I had about her class. Students should never feel this way, especially in elementary school. Many classmates and I knew that we were stupid, not worthy of a good education and as she would often put, “incapable of amounting to anything.” Of course, she had her favorites and they knew they were gold; what a dream it would have been to be them. But, I made have received a false sense of hard work and dignity if that was the case. At any rate, my parents and I debated about sending me to another school to finish out my last year of elementary school, but I stuck it out. Many students didn’t and I am thankful that I had my parents as support because the school’s hands were tied. What can you do about a tenured teacher?

These two teachers are not the only memories I have of school. Some of my greatest memories include my first day at a new school, being a Safety Patrol Officer, winning a community service award, learning about Civil Rights and the American Revolution through a drama troupe; we got to act out parts and I was Patrick Henry, “Give me liberty or give me Death!” Many of my memories are content based- writing out the Pythagorean theory 100 times, memorizing definitions for the SAT’s, writing poetry for an AP Lit project, but many of memories center around the experiences of that content or of growing up: Making an animation video with Barbie’s for a project, getting to “pan for gold” like in the Gold Rush, falling in love with Amelia Earhart after doing research and being the only 5th grade to recite a 10 minute speech from memory and of course, being totally grossed out during three years of awkward Sex-Ed. These memories and the way I feel about them and the person they shaped me to be is so much a part of the big picture of schooling.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Today's preschools are more than just naps and graham crackers, swing sets and "Baby Beluga".
As a kid I went to a private Christian centered pre-school because my grandmother's best friend worked at the school and I was able to go there for free. I believe the school provided me with social opportunities and a curiosity for religion that has never left me. At the time, my parents had just had one of my younger sisters so going to pre-school was a great way for me to interact with peers and to integrate my outgoing and leader type personality with lots of different kids.
As a college student, I worked at a pre-school during my summers off. I had the chance to work with white and Asian kids who were mostly from a middle socioeconomic background. The school integrated child and teacher centered activities, lots of physical play, and an emphasis on life skills such as cooperation, individuality and specific skills like potty training, tying shoes, reading- through Zoo Phonics, etc.
I do not have children, but I do believe that pre-school is essential to modern society and the growth and success of children, While many types of pre-schools are beneficial for children, schools with a constructivist approach develop independent, curious, social children. Kids need to learn to make decisions and to be confident in who they are. Furthermore, pre-school is one of the only types of school settings that allow kids freedom and choice. I believe that kids need to have these types of opportunities before they enter the more rigorous, behaviorist centered American school system.