Thursday, July 27, 2006
The Four Questions
This morning, Ben asked me to write a response to the following questions: Why am I interested in MTC? What has my summer been like? What is the biggest challenge of being a part of the MTC? And, finally, what is the greatest reward?
Here is the response I gave him:
Idealistic, realistic, optimistic, enthusiastic, passionate, committed, dedicated, diligent, hard-working, life-long learners – these are the members of the Mississippi Teacher Corps. How could you not be excited to work with such a remarkable group?
I was first drawn to the Teacher Corps program because I felt it would enable me to combine so many of my passions into one experience. Working towards social justice by improving the public education system from the grassroots level, surrounding myself with individuals who share my beliefs and values, and framing the experience in quintessential Southern hospitality – I could not have asked for a better summer job.
I have filled myriad roles this summer. I have performed the prototypical “intern tasks” of scanning, copying, and creating databases. I have been a photographer and an editor. I met with administrators and school district representatives. I would like to think I played at least a small role in the success of the MTC Summer School at Holly Springs High School.
Both the biggest challenges and the biggest rewards of being a part of MTC are the students. Trying to overcome numerous obstacles that are, more often than not, out of the students’ control in order to create a positive learning environment can prove to be an arduous task. That said, once you have accomplished this feat, the rewards are endless.
The recruitment material for the “other” Corps advertises, “The opportunity to serve, the opportunity to succeed.” Our Corps provides just that, but our Corps members engage in a different type of battle, a type where, hopefully, everyone can win. The MTC Esprit de Corps has been the lifeline of this program. And the rewards are compounded when you see your classmates succeed.
Now let me elaborate. Why MTC? Supplementing the reasoning mentioned above, working for MTC is an adventure. There are not a lot of Duke students completing summer internships outside of New York or Washington DC, and I would bet that I could count on one hand the number who are in MS this summer. I am living in a town I knew virtually nothing about, to which I had never previously been. I never really considered myself the adventurous type, but I am discovering that I am much more so that I originally believed. (Granted, I still limit myself to calculated risks and adventures with safeguards – I am in a college town, 70 miles from a major city, with a cell phone… How bad can it really be?)
What has my summer been like? To be honest, the most salient memories I will take away from this summer are my newly developed relationships with this group of exceptional individuals. My recollections of the soporific scan jobs and hypotonic evaluations will quickly fade from memory; the smiles of the students in Holly Springs, Ms. Walton’s excitement from the summer school’s success, and the quality time I spent with the first- and second-years are what compel me to apply to be a member of the MTC Class of 2007.
I have rarely been surrounded by so many education zealots, each fervently working towards a common goal. Any doubts I had about my generation’s overriding sense of apathy have been mollified by the ardor of the members of the Teacher Corps. I am certain that my satisfaction with this summer is due in large part to the people by whom I was surrounded on a daily basis.
The ideas and avid love of learning exchanged between members of this Corps will one day, I hope, pervade throughout this entire nation. There is no reason that the MTC model should not be emulated in other states. One day, I will be to sign an email: Molly Goldwasser, Program Coordinator, North Carolina Teacher Corps. Until then, I will be thankful for the complete competence of my predecessors.
Speaking of which, I want to thank the members of the MTC staff (and the rest of the faculty in the Department of Education) for everything they give to the program. The “great people of Mississippi” greatly appreciate all of your hard relentless efforts and I cannot thank you enough for contributing to my magnificent summer.
With regards to the final of Ben’s four questions, for me, the greatest reward of being a part of MTC is the constant reassurance that your idealism and commitment to the ideals of social justice are not unique. I go to bed each night knowing that we can be the change we wish to see in the world, because we have the necessary support network to keep us motivated, even when the waters get rough.
Thank you, MTC, and best wishes for every future success. Keep in touch and expect an application from NC in September.
Sunday, July 23, 2006
Scenic, Historic Oxford
In case you have not experienced this picturesque community first-hand, now you can do so vicariously through some of my photos from the weekend (and some of the city's slogans)!
"Oxford: Chartered, 1837. Was on Chickasaw Trail of Tears. Home of the University of Mississippi and of Barnard, Hilgard, Thompson, and Lamar. Burned by Federal troops in 1864."
Oxford: "We may not win every game... but we ain't never lost a party." -Larry Wamble
"Oxford, MS: A drinking city with a football problem."
Thursday, July 20, 2006
To the MTC Class of 2006
To the MTC Class of 2006,
Thank you. Thank you for welcoming me with open arms and accepting me as a part of your class for the summer. I have greatly enjoyed learning with and from each of you.
I realize you feel saturated with advice and suggestions – both good and bad – about your first year teaching in MS. You have heard redundant words of wisdom, clichés, admonishments, and conflicting instructions from countless MTC alumni, veteran teachers, Ben, your second-years, etc. Luckily, we have saved the best for last; here is MY encouragement and good counsel.
First of all, we consult the expert: Jimmy Valvano, who you know is an outstanding individual because of his passion for and commitment to ACC basketball. The message of his oration during the 1993 ESPY Awards ceremony is exemplary, particularly as you embark on your careers as
Says Valavano, “To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. Number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you're going to have something special.”
He continues, “It's so important to know where you are. I know where I am right now. How do you go from where you are to where you want to be? I think you have to have an enthusiasm for life. You have to have a dream, a goal. You have to be willing to work for it.”
Rooted in what I have observed about you collectively over the past two months, and in the spirit of Jimmy V, here I go…
First and foremost, wear bug spray. It’s hot, it’s muggy, it’s
Put my phone number in your phone – call if you need a care package. Put my email in your address book – write if you want to visit
Most importantly, don’t be afraid to be amazing. And in the words of Jimmy V, "Don't give up, don't ever give up."
Best wishes for every future success,
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
In the context of education, especially with regards to "at-risk" students, a pervasive theme is that of quality role models. Those of us who "make it" (however you choose to define this expression) arguably all have positive and influential role models in our lives who provide examples of lifestyle choices we select to emulate. Ben routinely discusses how Ashley R, one of his students from Hollandale, has two distinct paths, two divergent examples, set by her sisters -- now it is up to her to follow the "right" one. While we could each list the role models of our childhoods and young adolescence, I feel as though we frequently neglect to continue to find exemplars of progressive and reasonable behaviors we wish to mirror in the professional realm.
It seems unequivocally obvious that there is a direct, positive correlation between constructive role models of one's youth and copious positive externalities both inside and outside the classroom. Case is point: Why is there such an emphasis on finding youthful black males to enter the teaching profession? So why do we let this model fizzle when we enter the working world?
That said, yesterday, I had the great fortune of discovering the first of what I hope to be many role models in a professional context. As our conversation progressed, the more I realized how this individual epitomized many of the characteristics I hope to possess when I enter the "real" world. To say that Lauren Z, a Teacher Corps alumna, whose husband is a member of the MTC Class of 2006, appears to have her act together would be an understatement. Let me elaborate. Lauren teaches math; she teaches all levels and all ages, as her assigned courses vary each year, forcing her to roll with the punches as she develops a new set of lesson plans to sit a variant curriculum each year. She coaches track and cross-country, enabling her to teach life lessons to students outside of the classroom -- the track is a new medium for instruction in goal-setting, discipline, and hard work.
You may be thinking this is no big deal. After all, almost every MTC teacher teaches varying courses in addition to coaching. This is what, I believe, sets Lauren apart: She is in constant pursuit of expanding her own education and she is actively involved in her community. She reads math journals and periodicals routinely in search of additional material she can use in her classes. Lauren just finished a course at Delta State University in math education. How many teachers in critical needs districts dedicate their summers to advancing their own education in order to improve their performance in the classroom? I would be thrilled if the answer was a large percent, but I doubt this is the case.
Furthermore, Lauren (and her husband!) is on the board of the Habitat for Humanity chapter in the county where she teaches. This outlet provides her with an opportunity to interact with her fellow community members, engage in meaningful relationships with her neighbors, and do so in a way that is beneficial to the greater community. As she told me yesterday, teachers don't do anything on Saturdays -- you might think you will be working on lesson plans, but, realistically, that's Sunday's task -- so why not build homes? Additionally, Lauren and her husband are the youngest members on the H4H board, bringing fresh blood, able bodies and vivacious attitudes to the group. This aperture enables her to collaborate with donors, volunteers, and future home-owners; in working with individuals from various facets of life she exemplifies her dedication to her new community without alienating any sub-group.
Through her investment in her community, Lauren has formed connections with individuals regardless of race, religious preference, and socio-economic status -- is this not a message that is stressed in Teacher Corps from Day 1? If her students see her as an active and involved member of her community, I would hope this increases their respect for her, and potentially encourages them, too, to become civically engaged and socially responsible.
I look forward to future conversations and possible partnerships with Lauren. She absolutely made my day yesterday; I hope she continues to exude positive energy and inspiration. You Go Girl!
And don't worry, mommy and daddy, you are still my number one role models...
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
More Mr. Barnes!
Food for thought: here are just a few more quotations and themes from Mr. Barnes’ lecture this afternoon. I have added in a few of my own editorial comments.
- “There’s a reason for everything…” (I use this exact expression on a weekly basis!)
- Do not underestimate the significance of positive reinforcement outside of the classroom.
- “It upsets me when an individual doesn’t try to help himself.” (I agree, but just want to point out that sometimes there could be circumstances that are out of the individual’s control that exacerbate the need for help to the point where the individual feels like he is in over his head…)
- “Remember your role and remember it well. You are not a knight in shining amour…Your domain is your classroom. Be the King or Queen of your castle.” (Yes, true, but I also want to encourage good teachers to reach for the stars, stand up for what you believe is right, and to not be limited to serve as an agent for change outside the walls of your classroom as well as inside. Respect authority, follow the chain of command, but don’t be afraid to dream big!)
- Set and maintain high expectations for your students.
- Serve as a positive role model.
- Athletics follow the “no pass, no play” rule.
- “There may be an Einstein sitting in your front row; don’t let low self-esteem because of circumstances that are out of the kid’s control allow you to pre-judge the student or his situation.”
- “Don’t ever think you are missionaries. You are a teacher and there is no greater profession… Teachers stay at home, go across the railroad tracks, ditch, or bayou, and save the minds of the people right here at home.”
- “Social promotion is the worst death sentence you can give a low-achieving child.”
- “You are adults, but more importantly, you are first-year teachers.”
- “Be careful who you talk about because everybody’s kin.”
- “It’s about mankind and one human being trying to help another. That’s all teaching is.”
It is common knowledge that econ is not my forte. I often walked out of the lecture hall in the Bryan Center, head spinning, in dire need of my favorite forms of detox: a large cup of coffee and a long run… Let’s just say that econ and I share a love-hate relationship – with a lot more hate than love. That said, the countless hours I squandered on Sunday afternoons in office hours were not all for loss. I did absorb enough during my two semesters of economics courses to understand cost-benefit analyses, basic economic development, and returns on investments.
This afternoon we (the first-years and I) watched an award-winning HBO documentary entitled LaLee’s Kin; afterwards, the superintendent featured in the film came and spoke to us. The exposition divulged the long-term effects of King Cotton in the Mississippi Delta – the cycle of poverty, institutionalized racism, the lack of commerce – featuring the West Tallie School District and one family matriarch whose grandchildren and great-grandchildren attended the schools in this district. Several lines from both the film and Superintendent Barnes’ talk really struck me. And as scary as this sounds, the only way I could make sense of what I was hearing, the only way I could think about it in terms of the “real world,” was in the context of econ…
Let’s start with the basics: Cost-benefit analyses. You list all of your expenditures in one column (or one color, for us visual learners), and all of the benefits in another, assigning monetary values to each specific cost and benefit. Then you add up each column/color and if the benefits outweigh the cost, the endeavor is worthwhile (very generally speaking, of course). There was a line in the movie where Barnes says that the local jail spends $30,000 per person annually; he says that if he were to allocate a mere two percent of this figure to the education of these individuals, the majority of them would never end up in the penitentiary. The first thing that came to my mind when I heard this was a mental image of my Excel spreadsheet that I would use as an appendix to explain the CBA I discuss in my policy memo. (You can tell you’ve taken too many Public Policy courses when…)
I just could not stop thinking about the long-term fiscal (and intangible) benefits of education. What monetary value would I assign to the intangible benefits in this CBA? What about increased self-esteem? Increased employment options? The ability to break out of the cycle of poverty? How on earth could I arbitrarily delegate how valuable these attributes would be?
I quickly snapped out of this mindset and started thinking more concretely, more practically. If we do, hypothetically spend that two percent on education ($600/student/year), just imagine all of the possible net gains: classroom sets of updated textbooks, technology, software, educational field trips, after-school programming, increased salaries for highly qualified teachers, basic school supplies that the students in LaLee’s Kin lacked…the possibilities are endless! I know this is a giant leap, but I am still speaking hypothetically here: What if that $600 from ten students was used to establish an after-school astronomy club (Great idea Elizabeth! I told you these first-years were amazing!). You have $6000 from the State alone that could be used to: fund healthful snacks during the program to initially attract the students, purchase a telescope or two, help to acquire computer software (such as STARRY NIGHT!), rent a couple vans to drive to Huntsville, AL, pay entrance fees for NASA exhibits in Huntsville (which is only six hours away), etc. Under this model, students have a constructive activity in which they can be engaged from at least some of the time between 3:30-7:30pm (when, according to Mr. Barnes, is when the majority of juvenile crime occurs). Furthermore, the students are interacting with staff in a smaller group and learning outside of the classroom. The telescopes could be set up in the vast Delta farmlands, where the skies are clear and the city lights are non-existent – this could occupy the students even later at night. A (possible overnight) field trip to Huntsville would not only provide the students with a unique opportunity to gain exposure to the world outside of MS, but would provide great first-hand, hands-on educational possibilities.
So, back to econ, if these students are studying the solar system, visiting the planetarium in Jackson (which is much closer than Huntsville), and observing the heavens through state-of-the-art technology [heck, who is to say they couldn’t build their own telescope(s)!], they are not on the streets causing trouble. Less boredom and more creative and educational outlets can ultimately lead to lower crime rates, more passion for intellectual pursuits, and long-term goals. You have to go to college before you can be an astronaut! So $600 per student would mean that, five years down the line, these same individuals would not be a $30,000 cost to the Great State of Mississippi.
Additionally, speaking more broadly, if students achieve a higher level of education, this is statistically correlated to better overall health, which will ultimately cost “the system” less in Medicare costs, uncovered emergency room visits, etc. Ultimately, with more education comes a higher salary and greater job security, which will reduce welfare costs in addition to generating greater tax revenue from both income and property taxes. (Cyclically, some of this increased tax revenue will go back into the education system!) I realize this is very much the language of a young, idealistic, university student – but I would be willing to bet that the long-term societal benefits (fiscal and intangible) of increasing spending on public education would far exceed the costs.
The next lesson in today’s econ lesson is economic development. In the documentary, Barnes comments on what he calls the “catch-22” of industrial expansion in the rural, agrarian, Delta towns. He notes that industry does not want to come into anachronistic communities such as West Tallie. What employees would volunteer to relocate to a community stricken with poverty, Level I schools, with no extra-curricular options for its youth? But without this development, how can property tax revenue increase to provide additional funding for public education? What job opportunities are there for the students or their family members? With no employment possibilities, it is an arduous task to break the habit of living government check to government check. Just as when executing quality classroom management techniques, there need to be options! You cannot pray that an individual selects the “right” choice if there are no options in the first place. What good is a “welfare-to-work” program if there is no work? If corporations can recruit top-tier workers from “New York and California,” how does the company benefit if it expands to an ostensibly insignificant, bucolic town? (Increasing the bottom line – isn’t that one of the fundamental objectives in economics?)
The third theme in today’s lesson is return on investment. This is an easy one – any athlete understands this concept: work hard now so you can reap the rewards during the playoffs. The school district featured in the film was preoccupied with eliminating its probationary status by recording high enough test scores to be labeled a Level II school district. As the Superintendent clearly stated, there is not a significant different between the scores required to be at Level II compared to Level I. While this improvement indicates that the glass is half full, there is still a lot of milk that can be added.
As we are embarking on our (at least temporary) careers in teaching, I question if our efforts would be more beneficial trying to raise a Level II district to a Level III, or a Level III to a IV. Based on what I gleaned from the movie, the standards in a Level I district are barely noticeably superior to those in a Level II district; while we all are enlivened by the possibility to touch lives and spark positive change, we have to be realistic. As Barnes told us today, “Somebody’s got to believe that things will get better.” While I am focused on the possibility that every child has a chance and every student can “make it” (however you choose to define that expression), statistically speaking, I feel like we can effect a much greater number of students who start in a Level II or Level III district.
I love to see tangible results – I want to write college recommendations for as many of my students as possible, I want every one to walk across the stage during his/her high school graduation, and I want each of my students to be happy. What I have learned in my studies in econ thus far is that, on some level, the “right” answer (at least according to my professors) can always be found when one thinks selfishly (I cringe as I type that phrase). I want to see the greatest possible return on my investments of time, energy, resources, etc. The government is investing in me (and other teachers) financially – the government would also love to see a sizable return on its investment. I will put my whole heart and soul into whatever class I ultimately teach; the investment from my end is not conditionary, it will be 100% regardless of location. I am just thinking out loud about the possibility (I am still not sure if I truly buy into this potential hypothesis) that there will be a greater return on this investment (more students in college, more students graduating, etc.) if I were to teach in a Level II or Level III district… But as Mr. Barnes told us today, “It’s not WHERE you are that’s going to make a difference, it’s WHO you are.”
Enough econ for the day… I am not claiming to have the solutions, just possible changes to jump-start improvements over the status quo. And thank goodness my econ class next semester is cross-listed with Public Policy! Class dismissed.
Sunday, June 25, 2006
Holly Springs Photos
Friday, June 23, 2006
Asking for Help and Giving Choices
Yesterday during the first-years’ EDSE 500 class, the second-years reenacted scenarios they experienced in their classrooms over the past year. These roll-plays depicted unruly students, defiant students, special needs students, and unsupportive administration. After watching these Academy Award-worthy performances, the group broke off into smaller sections and engaged in more participatory drama.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Dave Mo: You're doing a great job!!! THANKS!
If you open this site with Explorer, the photos from Flickr will load correctly! And new photos appear each time you refresh the page!
Saturday, June 17, 2006
No Middle Ground
When I woke up this morning I went to the Square, got a cup of coffee, and read (for pleasure!!) for a couple hours. Upon finishing my novel, I walked around the Square, spent time in the bookstores and grabbed a to-go salad at a restaurant on my way back to campus. As I walked around the antebellum courthouse and window shopped, I pasted small, locally-owned boutiques selling Ralph Lauren and Lacoste apparel, designer jeans, and other pricey (apparently fashionable) products. Each of the restaurants would be an ideal locale for a first date with someone you were trying to impress; they are intimate, serve gourmet dishes, and have booths in the windows that look out onto this gorgeous, historic district.
Off of the Square, there are not a lot of clothing vendors. There are thrift stores on the way to Abbeville and the Wal-Mart on Jackson Ave. I have seen both extremes of the quality and price spectrum, but nothing in the middle. We are in a college town! How are there no “jeans and tee-shirts” type of shop?? My roommate and I are shocked that there is no Gap, no Old Navy – aren’t college students a prime consumer market in Oxford? While there are some restaurants that are “in the middle,” the copious fast food chains off the Square seem significantly more prevalent.
There was not a single black person in the coffee house this morning; I could count on one hand how many black people I saw perusing the Square. If I drive by a fast food drive-thru or go to Wal-Mart, I see plenty of non-Caucasians. We talk about living in a state where the sons of slaves and the sons of slave-owners still live side-by-side. It appears to me that the segregation that prevailed a century ago remains. The socioeconomic division (which is closely tied to racial lines) is almost as distinct in Mississippi as it was in the 1860s. Just as there was an incredibly small visible middle class during the days of slaves and sharecroppers, what I witness in Oxford indicates that the middle class is still not thriving. Or this class never eats out and drives to Tupelo to buy clothes for work and church.
I had a history teacher in high school who told our class that if you are ever asked what general trends have occurred in the world over the past 300 years, a safe response will be “there has been a rise in the middle class.” Given the context of rural Mississippi, I do not know if I really believe this statement is universally applicable. I am really perplexed by this situation. The blue-collar class has virtually no presence, which seems odd in a University community. Possible explanations welcome…
I promise I will start writing about education-related issues soon, seeing as how this is the MS Teacher Corps...
Thursday, June 15, 2006
Mississippi the Beautiful
Monday, June 12, 2006
Church and State
Note: the following opinions are my own, not those of MTC.
Staying true to the epithet of the “Bible Belt,” I am witnessing a plethora of “church” as well as “state” here in Mississippi. There is a fierce sense of patriotism that reigns, and there is an incredibly public and outward display of religious beliefs – the two frequently overlap. Above each classroom door in Holly Springs hangs a sign depicting an American flag that reads, “In God We Trust.” Instead of yard signs advertising support of a political candidate, there are placards reading, “I love my Church” or displaying the 10 Commandments. Nothing is open on Sundays; even bars close atmidnight on Saturdays because there is no sale of alcohol on Sunday. Churches are the most prevalent structure; I rarely run a block without passing one (ironically, the same sentiment seems to hold true with regards to tanning salons).
Additionally, almost every home, office, and fraternity house proudly displays the American flag (and the Mississippi state flag). Oxford appears to have an undertone of red, white, and blue. Granted, this may be due in part to the fact that these are the University’s colors, and all of the architecture here is red brick with white columns, but this theme is consistent even off campus. Maybe the pervasive Rebel Pride is representative of the greater sense of state or national pride.
The blind senses of faith and patriotism seem uncritical and unquestioned. While I believe that it is important to be proud of one’s country, this diehard patriotism makes me wonder if these communities are able to see the areas of our national government that need work. In the 1996 presidential election (the most recent statistics I can find), only 45% of eligible voters showed up at the polling places in Mississippi. I am perplexed by this dichotomy. Based solely on the loyalty to the red, white, and blue that I have observed here, I would at least hope that a substantially greater percentage of individuals report for civic duty and go vote!
With regards to the heavy religious influence, I do not see much cooperation between churches/religious sects. Religion, in many cases, seems to be fatalistic and divisive, not a tool for reaching a moral high ground. (Of course there are exceptions) Because there is such strong support for and involvement in faith-based communities, these seem like obvious places to spread messages promoting civic engagement, social action, etc. At church on Sunday, the minister asked the youth to bring in their final report cards so they could be recognized for their academic accomplishments.
These positive messages – promoting academic achievement, encouraging civic responsibility, teaching sex education, etc – should be the trademarks of the churches. Citizens need to be instructed how to question the status quo in a respectful and appropriate manor, in order to learn from past/current flaws and remedy them. Just as the baseball park seemed segregated, so do the churches. If blacks and whites can’t even pray together, where are we supposed to start in working towards an integrated society politically?
Sunday, June 04, 2006
Take me out to the ball game
Apparently Ole Miss baseball is almost as big as Rebel football! Who knew?! This weekend the NCAA Regional/Sectional baseball games are in Oxford and we had the opportunity to attend one yesterday. The ballpark was PACKED! Newborns, geriatric folks, Ole Miss students and grads; people drove from all over the Southeast for the weekend's festivities. It is great to see so much support for a non-revenue athletic team!
I know baseball does not appear to have anything to do with MTC... but I was so struck by the pervasive support I couldn't help but write about some of my observations. It was quite an experience to see girls -- regardless of age -- decked out in sundresses and heels at a baseball playoff game! The whole experience makes me think about the institutionalized inequities plaguing MS; there were very few minority spectators and the vast majority of fans at least appeared to hail from upper-middle class backgrounds (as evidenced by their attire and accessories). Thirty-seven percent of MS is black, 13% of Ole Miss is black, and maybe 5% of the fans in the ballpark were black -- what am I missing? As my dad would say, "What is wrong with this picture?" Even these seemingly uneventful experiences (well, the top of the 7th was pretty eventful...) raise questions about race relations and educational opportunities, which are fundamental elements at the root of MTC. Just some food for thought...
Friday, June 02, 2006
Gotta love the first years
The first-years survived their first week! It has been such a pleasure to meet such a diverse group of people who are all committed to social justice issues. As Ben puts it, “There is a through-line of service.” This group of individuals is dedicated, motivated, and driven; I feel as though each individual has something to offer to the group. I feel like I am starting college all over again – going into a new place, meeting a wide variety of new people, all of whom as passionate about education, and not afraid of hard work. We are all working diligently, but because we are all in this together, the tasks rarely seem like “work.”
I am anxious to see how the student-teaching goes at Holly Springs. (Luckily, I don’t have to wait long – summer school starts Tuesday!) I feel like I am filling out a March Maddness bracket as I think about and predict how each Corp member will do: Some go in with certain advantages, but ultimately, anyone can succeed (or not), simply depending on how much he/she wants it. Fortunately, this bracket is not limited to one champion. I am anxious to hear the tales and advice the first-years will be able to offer me as a result of their student-teaching experiences.
I have also been able to meet most of the second-years. I could spend hours listening to their stories and suggestions about MS, public education, and classroom/teacher tactics. At times, I forget that I still have another year at Duke – I am so engulfed in this program and what it is working towards that I feel as though I, too, will be teaching in August. I am taking mental notes and paper notes about the ideas and strategies that I hear around the office, from the second-years, and from Mrs. Monroe/Mr. Sweeney in class. The volume of knowledge I am exposed to on a daily basis in Oxford is almost overwhelming. The more I find myself enjoying the classroom setting and the opportunities to learn outside of the classroom, the more convinced I am that education is the right field for me.
Dr. McConnell asks me on a routine basis if I am enjoying my work. I always answer affirmatively. As Dr. Mullins suggests, I love MS despite of [its problems, paradoxes, and inequities], not because of…