My Journey – Draft 3

My Journey - Draft 3

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I was born in Jamaica and lived there until I was seven years old. I grew up as an only child which forced me to find ways to entertain myself. As a child, I was heavily influenced by my teachers both at home and at school.My mother and grandmother are teachers, as well as many of my cousins and other family members. I saw how patient and nurturing they were and I was drawn to their warmth and their caring nature. I spent a lot of time pretending to be a teacher when I was younger. When I played, I usually imitated what I saw my teachers do in school. When I went home I would pretend to be the teacher and do the same things with my stuffed animals and dolls. One year, after seeing my love for teaching, my parents bought me a chalkboard for my birthday. I remember that day like it was yesterday. I was so excited! It was black with a light brown wooden border. It also had a clock with red, wooden, movable hands and the alphabet written in white across the bottom. They also bought me chalk, an eraser, and a pointer. This really made me feel like a real teacher and I loved it. I spent even more time playing “pretend school” and took my role as the “pretend teacher” very seriously. As a teenager, many of the jobs I had involved working with children. Whether I was supervising, tutoring, or teaching them, I was always in a position where I dealt with children. As I entered my college years and it came time for me to choose a career path, it was clear to me that I belonged in the field of education. I graduated from Hunter College in 2012 and began my career as a teacher. My first two years of teaching were filled with both positive and negative experiences but I enjoyed teaching overall and felt that I had entered into the right profession. However, my third year was extremely difficult and filled with many troubling experiences and insights. I taught an ICT class along with my co teacher and we also had the help of a paraprofessional. Unfortunately, my classroom was used as a “dumping ground” for all the students who were classified as being either academically low, having significant behavior problems or in some cases both. My co teacher and I did the best we could to reach all of our students academically and to control their behavior. However, none of our efforts were appreciated and we felt as though we did not receive the amount of support we needed in order for us to do our jobs efficiently and effectively with the type of students we had. This negative classroom experience made me question if I wanted to be a classroom teacher for my entire career. The responsibilities and expectations placed on classroom teachers are overwhelmingly unrealistic. Not only are we expected to teach concepts (many of which are not developmentally appropriate) to students with academic and behavior challenges in a class of thirty or more students, but we are also expected to have interactions with parents, administrators and colleagues, as well as keep excessive, up-to-date records and documentation on each individual student. We are expected to do all this in addition to writing lesson plans, entering data, maintaining up to date bulletin boards, attending meetings (some of which are unnecessary and repetitive) and in my case also juggle personal relationships and graduate school. I knew that this was not something I would be able to do for the rest of my career especially when I decide to have a family of my own. To be honest, after my third year experience, I even contemplated changing my career altogether. However, due to my love of working with children, I decided instead to stay in the teaching profession but not as a classroom teacher. This is what led me to my decision to be a literacy coach and ultimately this class. As an undergraduate student I double majored in Childhood Education and English Language Arts and throughout school ELA has always been my strongest subject. This along with my passion for teaching students how to read, write and embrace literacy has pushed me to embark on this journey toward being a literacy coach. I am not sure what all of the responsibilities of a literacy coach are, however, I know that there will be challenges that come with this position. I must say that I am less worried about the challenges and more looking forward to the rewards. As a literacy coach, I know that my primary responsibility will be to teach students how to read and to support them in literacy. This is what I am most excited about because working with the population of students that I have come across over the last three years, I realize that there will be a new generation of illiterate children if something is not done to support literacy especially in the younger grades. I also know that I will be servicing many students of different age groups and from different cultural backgrounds and I am looking forward to this as well. I will encounter students that speak different languages and have experiences that are very different from each other and myself. This excites me. As a classroom teacher, we often do not have enough time to get to know our students on a more personal level and are unable to meet their academic needs due to time constraints and the many responsibilities placed on us. As a literacy coach, I will only be seeing a few students at a time and this will give me more one-on-one time with my students and allow me to better meet their needs. As I get older I realize that my past experiences have led me to where I am and the person that I am today. My present experiences are preparing me for my future and the woman and educator that I will become and although the future is unpredictable, I am excited and anxious to see what it holds for me both personally and professionally.