Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Before seeing the school at which I am teaching, I expected to encounter a dirty, hardly inhabitable building that had not been cleaned or refurbished in a generation. I expected my peer teachers to be borderline illiterate, my principal to be incompetent and overbearing, and my students to be unwilling to learn. All of these expectations were a result of what the Teacher Corps told me: expect the worst. My situation is not ideal, particularly in regards to many of my students, but it is not nearly as bad as it could be. My principal is supportive and kind. My peer teachers are largely competent and interesting, and I find it easy to avoid those who I do not like. To my great surprise and delight, I have encountered a number of teachers who are interesting, intelligent, and young. In short, they are excellent resources to have in the same building. Those teachers are made up of a core of Teacher Corps alums, and it is great to see the Corps and those they train are making a difference.

The one major disappointment is my students. Although most are not nearly as disrespectful as I expected, some are more disrespectful than I ever could have imagined. Almost all of them are less intelligent than I had hoped. More disturbing is the fact that so many have no idea how to achieve their largely ambiguous or unrealistic goals (NBA star, famous singer). Additionally, the have no idea how to reach those goals (for example, the kid who wants to play in the NFL isn’t even on the football team). Most realize that college is loosely important, but cannot define the root or meaning of that importance. At their worst, my students are ignorant, intolerant, and not open to learning anything new.

But, like anything, I must search to find the best in any situation. I only hope that I can find the best in my kids before they wear me into the ground.


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