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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

We do it for the Mamas

I have had the pleasure of teaching middle school for a couple of years now and never has it been a dull moment. But it really has tested me to see if this is what I want to do with my life. I love teaching middle school but I'm sure I'll branch off to another field of education later on. I duly believe in the potential of quality education. I seek to be a master in my field and aim to mold every child's life with the appreciation of English language and literature. I've been spoiled though. I've been teaching at a predominantly white, middle-class public school. Those kids never gave me a problem. I think it's mostly because they don't want to make the black lady teacher angry. Fine with me.

But in the summer, I like to challenge myself and participate in programs that reach out to underserved youth. The program I'm doing is geared towards shaping the character and academic skills of school aged African American inner city girls. It's not mandatory summer school, it's just a summer camp with some academic classes on the side. I did it two years ago and loved it (once I stopped gritting my teeth the first three weeks). I'm doing it now and it's... not the same. I mean, two years ago the girls were a little rough on the edges but now, this new group is harder to soften up. These girls are bitter at such a young age, and make sure to let you know it. How can you blame them? School is barely out and they have to go back for more learning. Talk about insubordination at its height: they drag their feet, complain, lie, whine, scam, and bicker. I just about gave up on them by week two. But last night, teachers had a back to school night with parents and it really motivated me again.

Parents came out to hear what their daughters were learning and share their concerns with the teachers. It was a great opportunity to be reminded of why the girls are in the program and why we as teachers should work to uphold the responsibility of assisting their needs. These kids need it. And when you look in the puppy eyes of the parents, you just about give in. They paid for their girls to join the program for a reason and they really want the best for their daughters. They believe we are going to do our best to help bring their daughters up. And I must remember that, no matter how cranky and annoying those girls are, they are still somebody's child. And they deserve patience and dedication as my students in VA get. I am not going to be so forgiving to the parents though; they need to work harder at training these young ladies to be polite, ladylike, and respectful. And I wasn't afraid to let them know that.

Being a teacher is one of those careers that includes being a mother, father, babysitter, counselor, and coach all in one. It's okay for the most part but sometimes it's downright draining...  It's sad and disheartening when a teacher is pushed to a point where they feel like they are just working for a paycheck. Honestly, at one point, that was how I felt these past few weeks. But I hope now as I stand in front of the classroom and try to excite them about a lesson on test taking strategies, they will reach down in their tiny souls and appreciate the moment to learn. Not just for their sake, but for their mama's too.


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