Oldie but goodie, lol
by Nicholas P, published on August 1, 2018
It has been almost 10 years since I left the classroom and while I absolutely Love what I do now, there were so many days I’d come home from teaching and just think, “I cannot believe they pay me to do this!”.
Lol, shout out to the awesome students I served in my brief NYC classroom teaching life. Special Shout out to the participants and staff in the VA computer class who inspired me and helped me find the confidence to change direction and become a classroom teacher back in ‘03.
For the past 14 years (Wow! That’s crazy! Lol…1st as a participant, then later as an Ambassador, Trainer/Coach, and Interviewer/Selector) I’ve been connected with the NYC Teaching Fellows, a great alternative certification program few have heard of. A lot of amazing, think outside of the box CB’s can be found there, who are 9 times out of 10 THAT Teacher that kids Love, respond to, and will remember for ever….and Vice Versa. I am in awe at the work they do, and the heart-set they carry while doing it. NYC has some great kids in need of Heart Centered Awesome Teachers! Best. Job. Ever.
This is a posting from a while ago, and though I wasn’t as connected with the program this past season as in previous years, my Love for them, who they are and what they do will always be a constant. And I know these “kids”, who are now in their late 20’s, are doing great things….and still remember that quirky, fast talking, different type of teacher, lol, and Our class. Great Days. A Happy Glitch in a System, lol.
There’s no better feeling as a teacher than when a class just “gets it”. That moment where you realize all the time and energy spent providing structure, reinforcing expectations, positively encouraging students to take an active role in learning, and never lowering the bar really has an impact.
I’ve experienced many of those moments since I began teaching, but one of the most incredible moments where I realized I truly found the best job ever came about during my 9th period Self-Contained Government class, aka the home of what was soon to become the landmark case of 9th Period Vs. Mr. P. (2006).
The “case” began with a two-day team activity, whereby each team was instructed to research one landmark Supreme Court case and present it to the class by debating both sides of the argument among their teammates. The class really seemed to take to the lesson and engaged in some pretty lively debates regarding which side should have won the case. It felt good to see them focused and thinking critically about complex situations. A really cool thing about this activity is that it was my ‘backup’ plan, with the cases on paper put into envelopes, as my tech saavy lesson just didn’t go over well, lol. It was the early Smart Board days, what can I say? ??♂️
On the second day of the lesson, a few of the students arrived to class after the late bell. From here, something truly amazing happened. As the late students began to explain why they were consistently late, other students who arrived on time began to debate them back, just as they were doing in the team activity. Crowded hallways, coming from gym vs. we have to go back and cover what you guys missed, if I can make it you can. Amazing.
The conversation snowballed into what was to become the final project: the four students demanded a fair trial, and in effect wanted to take me to trial over my what they felt was an unfair lateness policy!
After assigning each student a role (prosecution, defense, judges), they took their learning beyond the walls of the classroom. They interviewed other teachers, their parents, friends, and school administrators to either build their case or prepare for my defense, and began to seriously organize their respective cases. Amazing!
By the time the trial date arrived, the entire group took their roles seriously; the lawyers dressed up with their legal pads, we rearranged desks, and the judges wouldn’t speak to either side. What a day to remember. I am happy to report that by a final vote of 8 to 1, my lateness policy was upheld. It helped to have the best defense team in Northern Queens.
-Nick, (Fellow since 2004).