"I’m not sure that any educator,
traditional or nontraditional,
is emotionally prepared for this experience."
-- Caitlin Hannon
This from the Hechinger Report:
I broke a cardinal rule of teaching several times last year: I cried in front of my students.
Sometimes it happened out of frustration. Just as often, I was overcome during very honest conversations about the struggles my students face within and beyond the school building. At least twice the tears were brought on by uncontrollable laughter at a student’s joke.
As a first-year teacher, I figured tears (of some kind) were inevitable. I entered the classroom with a conservatory degree in acting, a bachelor’s degree in public affairs, lots of knowledge about urban education and the achievement gap, and the hope that I could improve another person’s life.
I knew I wanted to make a difference, and I thought that difference needed to start in the classroom—not in an office as a policymaker, with little or no connection to, and understanding of, what happens inside schools.
This desire, and my nontraditional education background, led me to Teach For America, a program that trains recent college graduates from various backgrounds to teach in public schools. I spent my first year teaching English at Tech High School, which serves a predominantly low-income, minority population. This year, I am teaching seventh-grade language arts at Emma Donnan Middle School.
By the end of that first year, I realized that the life I’d changed the most was my own...