Saturday, July 16, 2011

Training Days

The #kinderblog question this week is about how we were trained to become teachers. My training began when I attended college. I went to SUNY New Paltz which is around Poughkeepsie or around 1.5 hours north of NYC. I didn't set out to teach. I was going to be a journalist and fight for truth, justice, and all that. What changed? I held a friend's baby and decided I needed to do something to shape the future. Teaching it was!

At New Paltz, I was trained, really more facilitated, by some excellent professors who taught us to think for ourselves. They wanted us to be constructivists more than teachers. Also the Whole Language movement was in full force so everything was all about authenticity. I loved it until I did my student teaching. I taught 4th which I loved and had a phenomenal coop teacher named Carol. Then I had 1st and hated teaching due to a really bad coop teacher. She never let me have control of the class and was the kind of teacher who yelled at kids. She was also a gossip too. You know, the type that turns the faculty room into kid bashing land.

After that, I went to College of St. Rose in Albany, NY where I studied Reading for my Master's. I loved it there. It was the right mix of authentic, DAP learning with a diagnosis background to help Reading teachers. I subbed during this time and did many field experiences in a variety of settings.

One setting included a day treatment center for kids and working with those kids helped me to gain the confidence to teach. I learned how to do lessons on the fly and how to quickly diffuse tense situations. I also learned how to cope with failure (this was after my YMCA stint).

After that, I married, moved, and taught. I went back to school at the University of Rochester while teaching PreK at my last school. It was part of an Early Reading First grant and was free. So, I went back to take classes in order to get my Special Ed.cert.

The training I received at the U of R was fantastic. Although lacking in diagnosis, pedagogy was their big thing. That and social justice. It flipped my thinking and I was challenged to teach with passion.  It challenged everything I knew about race and inequality. It's really made me the teacher I am today.  One who looks at her students and what they are, where they come from, and how they best learn. 

All in all, I think I've taken pieces from each experience. From New Paltz, I took a need to reach all learners and play.  From St. Rose I took the need to investigate and problem solve in a DAP way. I also learned persistence. From the U of R, I took the need for advocacy and justice.  I learned who I am and how I feel affects my kids. I learned who I never want to be: that burned out teacher yelling at children and gossiping about them. No! Never!

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