Sunday, April 11, 2010

Teacher in Heels: Part Four

So I officially changed my major to education, but there was no way I was ever going to do that. There were millions of reasons, but one big one: I was scared. Teaching kids is hard and I had been raised soft. I knew that. I figured there was a big chance some kids could chew me up and spit me out proper.

I'd never spent one minute in a public school. I graduated from an all-girls Catholic school. We wore uniforms and nobody talked back. We never took a standardized test and you could actually fail out.

Born and raised in the very Catholic New Orleans, I'd spent some time with public school kids during what is called CCD class. Those kids were sassy. I was not sassy. Sassy gets you in trouble and I wasn't interested in any of that.

So you can see how being afraid of Sassy kids might be a bit of a detriment to a career as a teacher. I knew my limitations.

My junior year of college, things started to change.

"Service Learning" was one of the buzzwords at that time--I don't hear much about it now--and I found myself enrolled in a service learning class.

I sat there in complete horror as I realized that I have to develop a service-learning project and execute it in addition to the other course work. Seventy-five percent of the class dropped that very afternoon including this one kiss-up girl who kept exclaiming over how great the service portion was going to be.

But I'm not a quitter. Chicken, yes. Quitter? No.

We were assigned to the lowest-achieving school in Baton Rouge. I remember clearly one particular question when we interviewed the teacher and students about the school:

"What are your demographics--African American, White, Asian?"

"Well, White would probably be one."

"One percent?"

"No, just one white kid."

Ahhhh . . .

Clearly, I was a fish out of water.

The project went well and I found that it was the best experience of the semester. I was still pretty certain that I would get locked in a closet at a school like that, but did enjoy interacting with students and reading their writing samples.

It was a start.

Picture of me in the Greenhouse during our Service Learning Project--we worked with the Agriculture classes and this was one of their projects--growing hydroponic tomatoes.