Mississippi Teacher Corps

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Another blog for the first-years: how this past year has changed me

I decided to join MTC for the same idealogical reasons that have led many others to join: a desire to help an underserved population, to work with young people and make a difference in some of their lives, to fight social and racial inequities, and to learn how to be a good teacher. In addition, I had a more selfish motive for joining: wanting to make myself a better and stronger person. I told myself that the experience would either break me down or make me much more tough and capable. I survived my first year, and even though I don't always feel positive about the impact I've had on my students when I look back on the year, I have definitely succeeded in improving myself. Perhaps that means that I will have a better positive influence on my students next year.
A year ago, when I started teaching summer school, I was afraid to tell students to stop talking, or to call parents, or to do just about any sort of discipline. I'm over that. More importantly, I am much more confident getting up in front of a class and teaching. I'm used to the idea that I am an authority figure, and I feel more capable.
My personal growth is not just limited to my role as a teacher. This weekend, I spent a lot of time with relatives, and several of them commented to my mom that they were impressed by what I was doing and were proud of how much I'd grown up. The effect that I have felt most strongly from teaching in Mississippi for a year is how much less scared I am to take on challenges. In college, I changed my mind time after time about whether or not I wanted to go to medical school and become a doctor. A year ago, I'd decided I didn't want to do it. This was largely because I was intimidated by the idea of medical school itself. This spring, I started thinking that after I finish Teacher Corps, maybe I do want to go to med school after all. I thought about all the things that scared me away from med school and being a doctor and realized that after the experiences I've had this past year, none of those things seemed all that scary to me any more, and I am much more confident in my ability to tackle difficult tasks. Having to study really hard no longer seems daunting to me; though it may mean working more hours than I do now, it would not be nearly as emotionally draining. A year ago, I was not capable of taking this perspective.
On a less serious note, this past year has made my wit sharper and my sense of humor drier. Over the course of the year, I found interactions like the following one happening more and more frequently in my classroom:
Jon: Ms. Long Skirt Blue Jacket, can I look at my notes for this test?
Me: Yes. If you want to get a zero.
Jon: That was good, Ms. Long Skirt Blue Jacket. That was a good one.
I'm very serious when I'm teaching, but developing the ability to joke with my students subtly was a good way to let them know that even though I'm serious about work, I care about them as people and like to have at least a little fun. I think they appreciate it.

Now Playing: The Hold Steady- Stevie Nix


  • At 7:11 PM, Blogger James said…

    Hey L,

    I love reading your blog. I wish I was doing something as cool and intense as you're doing. So, a word about med school. It isn't that bad at all. The first year for me was pass/fail, and truth be told, it wasn't as hard as Williams. I think people make it out to be this big deal, but it's really not. I'm really enjoying it, and I'm sure you would too.

    Take it easy,

    1/4 of a doctor James B.


Post a Comment

<< Home