Monday, June 25, 2012

On the Yellow Brick Road

This is actually an assignment for one of my classes, but I thought I would share it here as it is a story very near and dear to my heart. This is the transcript of my digital story that will read as a narration in my final video project. Stay tuned for the video and thanks so much for reading! :)

Growing up, I've always loved a great story. To this day, my all time favorite story is The Wizard of Oz. Now that I'm a grown up, I've come to realize that my story in becoming a teacher isn't so different from my personal favorite tale of a young girl's journey home.

June 11, 2011. I graduated from UCSD marking one of the proudest moments of my young life and my first real step to reaching my lifelong dream of becoming an elementary school teacher. Now when I say becoming a teacher has been a lifelong dream of mine, it really has. Ever since I was six, I've always known that I wanted to become a teacher. 

The EDS grad program picked me up off my feet and blew me into a foreign land. A land where I didn't exactly know what to expect other than that I would be doing a lot of of teaching and a lot of learning. So just one year ago I embarked on this yellow brick road to find my way to the Emerald City, another step closer to being home.

As I walked along this yellow brick road I encountered many friends. First I met the Scarecrow. Being the youngest member of my cohort I was unsure if I had the knowledge or expertise that seemingly all the rest of my colleagues possessed, but as the year went on I learned a ton of strategies and tools that I would be able to use in my own practice. Strategies like scaffolding to provide the supports necessary for all my students to succeed. SDAIE strategies to provide my ELLs with the extra support they needed to succeed, and finally, differentiating my lessons for students of all levels to be able to engage and participate in their own learning. Through all the methods courses I had gained a brain. 

Next I met the Tin Man. Like I said I've always known I had a passion for teaching, especially inner city students. I've also always seen myself in a kindergarten classroom and when I found out my first student teaching placement would be with kindergarteners, I couldn't have been more excited! Through my experiences at my first placement I was able to uncover my niche and validate my passion for teaching. As I quickly found out, teaching kinders wasn't so much about the content but about the classroom management. An area that at the start of the year I would've told you I stunk at, but now I'd tell you with confidence to use lots of reminding language and always say what you mean and mean what you say. Remember to be firm and follow through with your consequences. You can be the best teacher in the world with the best lessons but without classroom management none of that really matters. Learning these classroom management skills helped my passion for teaching to truly blossom. Through my first student teaching placement I had gained a heart. 

Finally I met the Cowardly Lion. Coward, this is exactly how I would describe myself during my transition into my second placement. I went from spending every day with my little ones to being thrown into a middle school classroom and not just any middle school classroom. A middle school classroom with 6th, 7th, AND 8th graders. A middle school classroom that was comprised of 100% ELLs and mostly refugee students. Students that came from countries that prior to this placement I never even knew existed. Pretty embarrassing right? I was afraid to be taken out of my niche. I was afraid to start this new endeavor. I was just AFRAID, but being afraid gets you no where. In order to be the teacher I wanted to be, I was going to have to put my best foot forward and continue on the yellow brick road. So I did. I dove right in taking on as many different subjects as I could and used my classroom management skills in a new way that worked for my older students. To my surprise management wasn't an issue at all in my second placement. I was able to focus on my teaching using all the tools that I had gained from my methods courses, implementing them on a daily basis in the classroom. Each time, never being afraid to fall on my face because you know what? Having a lesson flop is the best thing that can happen to a reflective teacher. My CT taught me that. It forces you to think about your students and their specific needs. Then you make the modifications necessary to help them meet the desired learning goals and objectives. Through my second student teaching placement I had gained courage.

So here I am at the end of the yellow brick road. I've arrived at the Emerald City with all my new friends. What happens next? I'm equipped with all this knowledge, all this passion, and all this courage to take on the Great Wizard that is education. Everyone thinks school should to be a certain way, a certain color. When I get my own classroom I want to do away with the spectacles that shade everything in emerald and introduce my students to a world of color. A world of diversity where students of different socio-economic backgrounds, ethnicities, and cultures can learn from one another. A world where my students are well-educated and not blindly following in the steps of those in power. I not only want to educate, I want to empower. I want to give my students a place that they can call home. A home that isn't somewhere over the rainbow but in their very own classroom. Where dreams that they dare to dream really do come true. This is where I feel most at home. This is when I look down at my ruby red slippers and realize my ticket home has been with me all along. This is my story as a teacher. 

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