Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"Why Do You Want to be a Teacher"

So today, I had to submit my application to The Department of Education's hiring website. (As part of the teaching fellow program, fellows are required to find their own positions within the public school system. Just one more thing to worry about right?) I realized the question the DOE asked was quite similar to one of the questions asked by the teaching fellows in my initial application for the program: "Why do you want to be a teacher?"

Because my computer died on me a couple of months back, I did not have access to my original essay, and deiced to call the Teaching Fellow office to see if they could send me a copy. Eric said that due to my outgoing demeanor on the phone, I could probably get a copy sent to me, and sure enough i did! Here is my articulate response to wanting to be teacher.

1. Please provide an essay of between 400 and 600 words that addresses ALL of the following questions:

Why do you want to be a teacher? What experiences have led you to want to teach in a high-need school in New York City?

If applicable, please include in your response any volunteer or employment experience working with children and/or young adults in high-need communities.

I recently read somewhere that teaching is more than just a job; it’s a calling. This calling came to me this past summer while volunteering in hurricane ravished New Orleans. I originally believed I would be staying in New Orleans for just a few days, getting my hands dirty and helping with rebuilding efforts. After meeting and interacting with neighborhood children, I deiced to stay in New Orleans for over 3 months, volunteering my services to help the cities youngest victims. During my time in the “Big Easy”, I organized sports and educational after school activities for children of all ages. I spent all my time with the children of the community, and although I knew I wanted children to be the focus of my professional career, I was still somewhat unsure that teaching was the area in which I could make the largest impact on the lives of children who needed a helping hand the most. Yet, one day, while weeding a garden with a 9 year old African American boy name Edward, I realized that teaching was my calling, and what I wanted to do with my life.

I was explaining to Edward about the easy dispersal of weed seeds and why they seem to grow everywhere where he lives. In the midst of my explanation, Edward looked up at me and said “Sarah, why are white people so much smarter than black people?” Stunned and devastated by his question, I frantically tried to find the right words to comfort Edward. All his life, Edward has been surrounded by older brothers and cousins who drop out of school, education facilities that fail to provide an adequate learning atmosphere, and teachers who are overwhelmed with problems as they try to teach and inspire urban at-risk populations. This question made sense to Edward, for all the “white people” he knew were not gang bangers or drug dealers that infiltrated his street, but where the volunteers in his community, the teachers at his school, and the “important people” he had come to know from television. I found myself understanding why Edward thought this, and deiced by committing myself to educating urban youth as a teacher, I could show Edward, and kids just like him, that they ALL have the ability to be smart and successful, and live happy and healthy futures.

Once children reach school age, in most cases, they start spending more time with their teachers than with their parents. This means that teachers aren’t just imparting an education; they’re affecting the emotional, intellectual, and social development of each student they encounter. The poet William Butler Yeats once said, “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” And, indeed, by giving and inspiring with kids the knowledge and skills they need to succeed as adults, by urging them to pursue their dreams, and by impressing on them the joy that comes from a lifetime of learning, as a teacher I will be virtually limitless in my capacity to touch lives, and thusly has showed me that I want to become a teacher.

I moved to New York City this last fall. Spending the majority of my time on the West Coast, living in New York is a big and exciting change in my life. After learning more about the education system of New York, I know I would make a great addition to the countless other hardworking teachers who educate, inspire, and help change the lives of New York’s youngest residents.

I had such a nice weekend! It was beautiful and spent most of it at the park with my handsome man, eating carbonated grapes (it was so cool, we carbonated our own grapes! they were delicious and you could feel the fizzyness when you held them in your hand!), people/little kid watching, baseball (i sprained my middle finger, but was still pretty good), relaxing, and just enjoying being alive!