Monday, February 21, 2011

Who am I? Why am I doing this?

Why am I writing this Blog?

I am a teacher. I am also a parent of two small children entering the school system. My eldest is in first grade. My youngest is Preschool. The issues in today's world regarding education effect me both as a professional and as a parent. I must make my voice heard both for the sake of my students and the sake of the my own. My purpose is to be a voice of both teachers and parents. We need more voices because ours are being silenced in the debate. I hope to start an honest discourse sharing information and ideas, and maybe starting a few lively debates. I also, want to give the public a glimpse into the life of an ordinary everyday teacher. Perhaps some will realize teachers don't really have it all that easy, and the grass is rarely greener.

Who am I?

I am the daughter of a single, working-class mother and an absentee, alcoholic father. We didn't have much, but we never went without. I grew up in Middlesex county, New Jersey in some of the semi-urban areas. I say I am from the county because we moved quite a bit. For some strange reason people find it amazing, even people in my own family, that I was able to make something of myself. I have a successful marriage, two AMAZING children, and I've had my masters degree for the last 10 years, thanks to some very hard work and $50,000 in student loans. My loan officer cringed when I told him what field I was going into he said, "You'll never earn it back." I honestly didn't believe him. Alas, he was right.

At the age of 17, I started my career as a teacher's assistant in one of the more posh daycare center chains. Average tuition was $1,000 per month, per child. Now it's $1,200. I figured if I wanted to be a teacher, no better way to go about it than to teach, work with children, get in on the ground floor. I made minimum wage for five years at this school. I can honestly say that most of what I know about children, planning, and classroom management, I learned at that preschool. If you manage 12 toddlers, you can mange ANYBODY. I've always received rave reviews, even from supervisors who didn't like all that much, for my classroom management hanks to those little tikes.

I completed an accelerated program and earned my BA in History with a concentration on American History, and a Masters degree in early childhood/elementary education in five years. The program I attended, the only program I even applied to, required a BA in a content area versus other universities that consider education to be your content area. It also required 5 semesters of field work versus other universities that only require 2. I completed my student-teaching internship at a suburban school in a real "melting pot" community. It was a title 1 school including a number of "economically challenged" students, poor kids, and a number of well-to-do children. There were children from every ethnic background. I loved the diversity of my classes. I taught there for two more years. (Why I am no longer there is another long story for another time.)

Currently, I teach in a primary school in one of the biggest urban districts in New Jersey. (Another long story about how I came to be here). 98% of the students in our building qualify for free lunch and breakfast. Only 2% of our student population is Caucasian while the other 98% are predominantly African-American, some Hispanic, or a combination of both. We have a very large special education population, and a small English Language Learner population. Most of our students who qualify as ELL attend an in-district bi-lingual school. Very different environment from where I was trained and started my career, and full of very different experiences. I'll be sharing some of those experiences here.

So now that you know who I am, I hope you will follow me and read along. It should be an interesting journey for all of us.

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