Mississippi Teacher Corps

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Required blog: Is MTC making a difference?

Is MTC making a difference? Yes. Do I think MTC will ever “fix” the problems of educational inequality, racism, and everything else that plagues the Delta? No.
The way I see it, a successful corps member exposes students to new opportunities. I think a huge part of the impact of our program lies just in bringing educated young people from all over the country to the Delta. Many of our students don’t have exposure to the way people live outside of the Delta, and have never met anyone like their MTC teachers. I think that just by being present at our schools, we give our students ideas about what kind of possibilities exist for someone who gets a higher education.
By no means do I think this is the only positive influence we have on our students. A good corps member is more creative and inspired than the majority of teachers our students have, and even though I’m sure all of us have endured students’ complaints that we “make them do too much work” and are “boring,” there are those moments when we realize that we’ve made our subject matter, or even the act of being in school, much more enjoyable for some of our students. As a science teacher, I hope to convince my students that science is interesting enough that they will continue to take it, and I think I’ve succeeded in at least a few cases. A few weeks ago, I ran into a former student of mine outside of school. She happened to be one of my favorite students, and we chatted for about 15 minutes. She told me that science is her favorite class in school now because I made it that way for her. This anecdote, in a nutshell, is why I think MTC is making a differenced.
Now, onto my less optimistic thoughts on what I think MTC can’t do. We’re all working hard to inspire our students and increase academic performance, and I’m always impressed by my classmates who take their students on cool field trips, start a new activity at their school, or boast an amazing increase in state test results. I’m not trying to belittle these accomplishments in any way, but I don’t think that a few amazing teachers at a school are enough to turn the school around. If it were, the schools where we’ve been sending corps members for years would be good schools by now. I think that for the whole school system to improve, competent administrators would have to come in and make major changes, including firing a lot of teachers. I could write a few pages on all the things I think need to be done to make our schools good schools, but my point is that I don’t think any of these changes lie in the power of MTC. I apologize for the pessimism, but from talking to people who’ve lived in the Delta for decades, and even from watching the changes that have happened in my own school district over the past year, I’ve concluded that things are getting worse in the Delta, and I don’t realistically think things will improve any time soon. So, to sum it up: MTC is making a difference in the lives of a small number of students (which is a major accomplishment) but is not going to fix the Delta’s problems on a big scale.

Now playing: Lazy Monday


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