I've been trying to get student teachers into our school for some time. It's not that I have any pull or anything, but since I'm in graduate school at a local university, I figure that maybe I can be a communication point for it. Basically, I think my school would be a great place to learn to teach: our curriculum is flexible and created in-house, not handed out by distanced curriculum specials; the students are mostly open-minded, respectful but disarmingly honest at times; we often collaborate and backwards-plan on units. And, I'll be honest: it would be cool to have a student teacher, to get fresh ideas and improve my craft through the eyes of another.
I finally found what I thought would be an "in" at the university. My advisor and current professor is trying to start up an urban education program at the school. She asked me to come and speak with interested students. However, just two showed up today. There is currently no one signed up for the course.
It's too bad, because the only way our cities will become better is if the schools become better, and I don't understand how there can be this little interest in teaching in urban schools, or even learning about teaching in urban schools. When I was at Michigan State, I felt like this was a bit of a priority from the professors - we read Jonathan Kozol and Mike Rose; I remember something clicking for me when one of my professors sort of looked at us all and said he expected us to consider teaching in an urban school. I had never really considered it, and still reall didn't, but was placed in an urban school upon graduation for my post-graduate student teaching year, and fell in love with it. I'm quite sure I'll never teach in another type of environment again, just because, as cheesy as this sounds, I feel like I'm making more of a difference than I would be if I was teaching elsewhere.
The stories she told me about prospective teacher candidates at this university, however, were disconcerting. She has students (her college students, the prospective teachers) attend an event every semester hosted by the Baltimore Urban Debate League, one of the many beacons of hope and intelligence within the city school system. She said that one girl walked into a school and walked out without seeing any of the debate events. The next week, at class, she said, "Well, I just walked into the school, and this black girl was just yelling her head off, and I just turned right around. I can't deal with that." She says this is the sort of thing she is up against when trying to create an urban education program. Unfortunately, this is more the rule than the exception. Most of the teaching candidates want to work in the county, or even where they went to high school.
One of the paths I can see myself embarking on is trying to reach out to young teachers who want to teach in city schools. I thought this university, where I'm getting my Master's degree, would be my path. I'm still hopeful, but disheartened. How can someone who cares about making the future a better place just refuse outright to teach in a city school? How can, out of sixty student teachers last year, only one put city schools in their top three choices for placement? I just don't get it, and, honestly, I don't think I'm that special. When I got my education degree, I was ready to change the world. I still am. Isn't that why people become teachers, after all?
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