Monday, May 29, 2006
i worked parttime in an alternative school setting while i was in college. for three hours every monday, wednesday and friday, i had twelve students who either got kicked out or dropped out of their traditional high school. some of them were there because they wanted to be: they were trying to get their g.e.d. there were others who had to be there: the school was forcing them to make up credits while they were out of school. i had two who were kicked out because of violence against a teacher. i had several who had chosen not to do the work, and the high school refused to put up with it anymore. i had a pregnant teen who chose to drop out and get her g.e.d. so that she could start college sooner. it was a motley crew...and, dear lord, i was terrified my first day...and my first week...and, really, if i'm being completely honest, my first month. this experience created who i am as a teacher, though.
through my coursework, i worked with those students who wanted to learn...or who at least participated in class and did their homework. they were fun. i loved their enthusiasm. i loved that i didn't have to ask them multiple times to do their homework. i loved that i could take them to the computer lab and not have to worry about a paper airplane being shoved in a disk drive. i really loved that i didn't have to worry about some sort of behavioral outburst.
i was working with both student populations at around the same time. days i didn't have to work at the alternative school, i was going into the traditional high school for observations and practicum experiences. working with the different student dynamics like this let me really compare the two.
i realized about halfway through the semester that the kids in the traditional school would make it without me. they may not have enjoyed school, but they were involved in their education. they would make it where they wanted to be with or without my help because they cared.
my alternative school kids were the ones who need a teacher...some sort of help in life. this is one of the many things i've taken with me from that experience. i want to teach those students who need a teacher. i know i can't reach them all, but i can give it my best effort.
i feel like this has become somewhat after school special-ish...and i apologize for that. i just feel very passionately about my delinquents. i've found my calling, i suppose.