From Alliance Intern to Teacher In Training
May 27, 2010 04:13 pm
During my final semester at Georgetown University, I was able to take a class in the philosophy of education, intern at the Alliance for Excellent Education, and start the process towards becoming a teacher in the school district of Philadelphia. With a strong interest in educational reform, I started the semester with many questions and a hope that many would be answered. Reflecting upon these past four months, I realized I have developed more questions than answers. My questions, however, have become more focused. Being able to learn about issues such as technology’s role in education and the specific needs of exceptional students, I am more acutely aware of the challenges we face in reforming our education system.
As a teacher in training, I am grateful for the experience and knowledge that I gained while working at the Alliance. Most valuable were the opportunities to listen and speak with experts in the field. One afternoon, while waiting for a Senate hearing on rural schools and ESEA reauthorization, I met a woman who had been a teacher and education advocate for years. While in line, we began speaking about what it really takes to improve American education. Simply put, she explained, “There is no silver bullet in education reform.” After further explanation, I realized her message was less pessimistic, and more realistic of the comprehensive change that needs to happen for effective reform. The challenges, and subsequent responses, are complex. This reality does not stall change, but rather it better informs the actions of leaders and advocates. With complex and overlapping issues, there needs to be a system of consistent communication between all members of the education world. From parents to school administrators to policy makers, the information must flow freely, in both ease and direction.
If not for my experience at the Alliance, I would not have realized the genuine power and importance of communication on all levels within education. That being said, the real challenge starts in the coming months. As much as I can talk about what I’ve learned, I won’t know its true impact until I am in the field and can learn first-hand where policy meets practice.
Starting in late June, I will undergo an intensive five-week training program provided by the Philadelphia Teaching Fellows . During this time, fellows
learn about issues such as classroom management and discipline. In addition, we will teach summer classes within the school district, while receiving constant feedback from an advisor. Throughout the school year, this advisor will be available for guidance and support. Starting in September I will be a full-time teacher within the school district, while also taking classes at a local university, working towards my master’s degree in education.
There is no way to be fully ready for the experiences and challenges I am about to face. I am, however, more prepared after interning at the Alliance. Not only am I more aware of the specific challenges in education, I am also more focused on the necessity of bridging the gap between the policy room and the classroom. Through future blog posts, I hope to communicate my own perspectives of teaching in our inner-city public schools, with the goal of creating more honest and informed discussions.