Saturday, December 15, 2007

Short Answer Hypothetical

I've been thinking some thinks. Maybe someone can help me fill in some blanks. Have your bluebooks ready.

Scenario #1:
I graduated from college last May and entered a credentialing program at a CSU or UC school. I want to teach upper elementary. Sometime in October, a professor assigned some reading by Kozol. On a whim and out of the blue, I read the assigned reading, even though this is rarely necessary, and it changed my life. Now I want to teach high need urban ed, specifically and exclusively.

Given this new direction and purpose to my career, in what way or ways does my path through my credentialing program change?

Scenario #2:
I will graduate from college this upcoming May. I know right now that I want to be a teacher, and I know right now that I want to teach in a high-need urban school.

How does this knowledge affect which credentialing program I enter?


Anonymous Kate said...

I'm in the scenario 2 boat, and would love to hear what people think. So far, I'm thinking that I'll start out in a private or parochial school system with lots of support, and then once I'm "all practiced up" (after 2 or 3 years) I'll apply for a job at a charter school like KIPP, YES, Amistad, or Green Dot. If after a couple years at one of those urban charter schools I decide I really, really want to teach in a regular public school, then I'll see if I can go through an alternative cert. program.

Another option: I'm actually in the middle of college (not at the end), so I still have the chance to do a "minor" (my school doesn't actually call them minors) in Teaching, which will prepare me to take the New Jersey cert exam.

7:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Join TFA :)

10:09 PM  
Blogger ms. v. said...

go visit as many classrooms as you can in the settings in which you'd like to work. in more than one school. more than one subject. find teachers whose kids learn and spend time with them. that's not a path through a credentialing program, exactly, nor will it teach you anything specific, but I think it will make the questions you have to answer, and some of the skills you have to gain, all the more clear.

8:38 AM  
Blogger KauaiMark said...

"...I want to teach high need urban ed"

Move to Philly:

2:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

I was over at that blog for first-year Oakland teachers you linked and someone left a comment (which I couldn't exhume this morning) citing instruction that inner-city educators should receive but don't.

Incomplete reference list:

"Code of the Street," Elijah Anderson.

A chapter from a book on improve theater outlining how we convey and receive status. (Keith Johnstone is the author, I think.)

EnVoY, Michael Grinder's awesome book on non-verbal communication.

Seems strange to suggest that inner-city teachers need a different preparatory curriculum than the rest but I know that when I worked in Sacramento, I could've used it.

8:41 AM  
Blogger Mr. Moses said...

For either scenario:

Right now, this very second, realize that there's nothing going on in your teacher prep classes that is going to help you in any way shape or form once you get into a building, unless you change the paradigm. Here's how:

Immediately start busting heads with your professors and the other pre-service teachers in your classes. Call them on their shit and be prepared to be called on yours. If you begin steeling yourself now you'll be ready once you get into a school building and have to do the same thing with other teachers and administrators.

Next, take note of everything these classes area telling you to do and plan on doing the exact opposite. This will also help you once you get into a building. Look at what other teachers are doing, and do whatever the polar opposite is.

Make some commitments right now.

1) You will not use the grade book as a weapon against your students. In fact you may want to commit to not using your grade book at all. You may need to keep one to fool the administration, but under no circumstances should it reflect what you report to the office at the end of a grading period.

2) Commit, right now, to not failing a single student. No matter what. If you do this it will completely change how you work with young people.

3) Never forget that you are there to help kids. Nothing else matters. Not even a little.

Good luck. Fight hard. Teach with a chip on your shoulder.

9:25 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Add to the syllabus:

The Wire Season Four

8:05 PM  
Blogger Linda said...

What's your background? Did you grow up in a poor household? Were you the first in your family to graduate (high school or college)?

Have you actually BEEN in high-need schools? Try volunteering for a while before fixing on this path.

To teach successfully in an urban school, you need to have a tough hide, an alternative way to earn an income (so when threatened, either by kids, parents, or administrators, you don't fold), and a committment to learning your craft.

You need to join your professional organization - NOT the union, but the group that promotes your discipline's professional development.

11:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not to lurk and plug, but Kate (and any other undergrads looking to try out urban ed) should look at applying to teach with the Breakthrough Collaborative. I spent two summers in college teaching high-potential/high-need kids from lousy schools, and I got some great perspective on the issues to be overcome and skills needed to excel in teaching in these areas. It's great for the kids, too. Undergrads and HS students can apply to teach anywhere nationwide (inc. the 408), and the application is open now.

(full disclosure: I'm employed by Breakthrough in recruiting and supporting our teachers into their careers. Send me questions at

10:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Find a good mentor -- and if need be, good mentors in several different areas (pedagogy, content knowledge, street smarts, school administration). Then ask them questions, ask for their emotional support, and plan a bit of time for yourself along the way.

1:05 PM  

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