What Will You Always Remember About Your Teacher?
I knew it was coming. It always does around this time of year. Some people call it the “Teaching Mid-Year Slump”, others call it the “Longest Months of the School Year.” I call it “The Wall.”
The Wall used to loom up mid-way on my jogging runs. It was the time when I suddenly lost energy and motivation to keep moving forward. Suddenly the roads seemed to extend out of my reach and ability. The Wall makes you start to doubt if you have the stamina to complete the run and accomplish your goal. And then as quickly as it appeared the Wall would fade away and I’d move forward with renewed energy and drive.
Teachers sometimes experience this feeling. The year is more than half over and yet the few remaining months seem like they will never end and June is but a dream. It takes effort to keep the momentum and enthusiasm going when you feel tired and drained. I find if I schedule mini-events (Earth Day is April 22nd!) and treat myself to something special at the end of each week the time does pass and once June comes it’s all downhill!
So, it’s one foot forward, now the other foot… keep going, that’s great! We can do it!
Georgina, Fellow since 2002
My First Year as a NYC Teaching Fellow
Hear personal reflections from current Fellows about first-year jitters, what they learned, and how they feel now.
A (Lab)Room of One’s Own
This week, I’m so proud of my student, who has really come into her own as a scientist in the school lab. Last year, I mentored her work on a DNA research project that she successfully presented at the American Museum of Natural History. This week, as she waits for her junior-year internship (at a science museum!) to start, she’s got some unplanned spare time on her hands.
Realizing her skills, we’ve enlisted her help as a lab technician, testing the results of various procedures we’re using with the freshman biology classes in an upcoming unit. For four hours each day, she has directed her own efforts around the lab, using pipettes and centrifuges and reagents to extract genetic material from various foods for analysis. With confidence, she was able to let her former teachers know what combination of materials and protocols yielded the clearest results, and has offered to help implement the lab for her peers. It’s a gift to have the chance to share something with a young person in the first place. But it’s all the more rewarding to see how much further they can go on their own with what you’ve taught them.
Anthony, Fellow since 2005
Support Middle School 88 With Your Vote!
Cohort 15 Fellow, Michael Seymour, and Cohort 20 Fellow, Lynn Shon, from Middle School 88 in Brooklyn, recently entered a video into Samsung’s Solve for Tomorrow contest and are one of only 15 finalists selected from a pool of 15,000 applicants and the only finalists from NY state!
The contest speaks to the need for technology investments in high needs schools. Because of Michael’s and Lynn’s hard work, their school is eligible for a $110,000 grant based on your votes! To view their video and to place a vote, click here: https://pages.samsung.com/us/sft/video.jsp.
Get your votes in today! Voting ends at 11:59 p.m. ET Monday, March 4!
Enemy at the Gate, A Friend at the Door, Unwelcome Guest, Strangers Among Us, Stranger in a Strange Land, Be Our Guest
A feature in the life of effective schools is the steady stream of outside observers seeking to take a look at the inner workings of something that is going well. It can be awkward to open up one’s practice to outside inspection, especially early in one’s teaching career. Working with dynamic populations of students, there are so many decisions to be made from moment-to-moment that teaching can feel more like negotiating a rapid than charting a smooth and orderly course. The fastest way to learn to navigate the waters effectively is by committing to the challenge with all one’s thoughtfulness and energy, and by giving and receiving feedback from experienced colleagues. Embracing input is critical to growth at any level of teaching practice. Just as Olympic kayakers train and perform under the supervision of coaches to achieve their personal best, we teachers don’t get better in isolation from one another.
On my first day as a teacher, I had nine different adults observe the various lessons I delivered that day. The school leader, various members of my team, my instructional coach, the assistant principal, the administrative coach, and a few others all visited to check in on me. That day forever inoculated me against any sense that the hallway door was anything but open. It’s a culture of our building, but it is one that is sustained by the humility and generosity of individual practitioners. Drawing upon and contributing to a shared body of craft knowledge helps us to each improve as professionals, and most importantly, expands our capacity to serve the needs of the students. Leave the door open.
-Anthony Finney, Cohort 10
What Will You Always Remember About Your Teachers?“They make me feel special in a way because they know what I can do, they don’t push me down and they give me the possibilities to express myself. I love them all!”
NYC Public School Student, 2013
The Most Urgent of all Callings
Binh, Fellow since 2000