In a recent New York Times article, Can We Interest You in Teaching, Frank Bruni highlights many important topics regarding teacher pay, respect, and certification. After my experience teaching at Summerbridge, I could not help but nod at every single statement Bruni makes. Even though three summers is not a good enough reflection of what a school year looks like, I can understand why 12-hour work days, sleep deprivation, multiple cups of coffee per day, writing and rewriting on the white board, repeating lesson plans for different classes, copier malfunctions, student behavior problems, super long faculty meetings, and countless hours working on weekends would drive “more than 40 percent of the people who do go into teaching to exit the profession within five years”. The truth is, teaching is difficult. My Instructional Coach told me that 90% of teaching is going to be the background work and only 10% is actually standing in front of the classroom—I cannot agree more. I would spend hours making an equation worksheet that is engaging and educational, designing the curriculum, writing the individual lesson plans, revising the lesson plans, and not to mention standing by the copier waiting for the papers. At some point during the summer, I felt like my internship was taking over my life.
Despite all the work, I do not regret taking on this internship at all. After three summers, I know that teachers are impactful and teaching is a very rewarding job. During the 9th grade camping trip, rising 9thgraders shared their gratitude for their teachers and during an anonymous “tap someone who...” activity, many students tapped me when giving the prompt “tap someone who has inspired you”. At that moment, I knew that I have a purpose and my job as an educator is not done. Other moments such as receiving hand-written cards from students confirmed that my job is worth all the stress and hard work that teaching brings.
As someone who has been through 13 years of schooling, I realized that I am programmed to receive information and am not necessarily good at explaining something back. I’ve had students ask me to repeat things over and over again because something as small as a class cut-and-paste-on-poster activity can be confusing to students. There is a technique called task analysis that teaches teachers how to break down problems into small digestible chunks. I think I am better at it now and the technique will definitely help me in the future when I need to explain a task to someone. Overall, I have learned and practiced other teaching techniques such as “see, say, do” that will be beneficial regardless if I go into primary or secondary education.
During Celebration night, I got to shake the 9th graders’ hands as they walked across the stage during graduation. I felt very accomplished because these students are going to great high schools and I know that by coming to Summerbridge they are changing the trajectory of their life. Even though this may be my last summer at SB, I know that my work is not done. By minoring in education, I hope to gain more skills and be a great role model for many more children. And I hope to work toward making the classroom a more sensible, exciting, and fulfilling place as any other.
Summerbridge is what??? Dynamite! Happy week 5 of the summer program! Week 5 also means that our fun times with the students will end next week. Since my last update, I have already taught 9th-grade math for four weeks. It is rewarding seeing my students improve by leaps and bounds. It is especially rewarding seeing my current students, who I have taught when they were in the 7thgrade improve. In my last report, I said that I would like to challenge myself to incorporate fun activities for the students and one of the activities I did was to have students solve the Do-Now questions on the sidewalk using sidewalk chalk instead of writing it on their paper. In addition, our classroom is in the basement of a building so taking them outside is a special treat. The students enjoyed the activity a lot and have asked for more sidewalk chalk time.
During a faculty meeting, our Dean of Faculty said that an internship is a lot about training ourselves—the focus is on us. However, the internship at Summerbridge is not just about focusing on ourselves, but on students. In fact, most of the focus is on the students. As educators, we place students at the center of everything we do. How do we modify the lesson plans to fit students’ needs? What can the students improve on? Which students should we celebration/concentrate? This internship has taught me to be selfless. From the moment I wake up every day, my heart races because I know that I only have 6 hours everyday to inspire and teach my students. With the clock ticking, these 9th graders have only one more week of their three summers at Summerbridge.
My goal for the last week of teaching is to boost my students’ confidence. My workshop students feel like they never get the material and that they are never the winners in math class. As an educator, I believe that I have the responsibility to help them fight the fear. This is the age in which most students develop fixed mindsets about STEM because the concepts get harder and when the materials get too hard, some students tend to hide. I have three girls in my class and I want to make sure that they get the message that yes, girls can excel in math too. I also hope that I can create lasting connections with the students such that they not only see me as their teacher, but as a mentor they can reach out to after they graduate. Stay tuned for more updates!
Greetings from Summerbridge (SB) San Francisco! I am taking a break from writing lesson plans to give you an update on what I have been up to as a teaching fellow. As of today, June 16, we welcomed all rising 7th, 8th, and 9th graders to the first official day of SB. In the selfie, I am standing in front of my whiteboard with my Instructional Coach, Dana, after our first math class. Things are starting to get exciting here at SB especially after a whole week of Professional Development (PD), also known as teacher’s training.
Even though this is my third summer back at SB, I am still learning new techniques during PD week. Techniques include managing the classroom, writing lesson plans, and engaging students in subjects they may not enjoy. So far, I have prepared lesson plans for the next two weeks, but I can’t help but to feel a little nervous because I taught 7th grade math last year but I have never taught 9th grade math workshop (Algebra 1). I know the 7th grade math curriculum well enough to know what we should be teaching the students, but I had to recreate the 9th-grade math workshop curriculum simply because it is new to me. Every teaching fellow in the math department teaches with an Instructional Coach (IC) and my IC has been giving me helpful feedback about my lesson plans and allowing me to take the driver’s seat in the classroom.
Even though by nature, teaching math this summer connects directly to STEM education, I would say that this math workshop class relates to more than just STEM. Although I must teach the students math concepts, they also need basic reading skills to understand math. For example, I introduced irrational numbers today, and I realized that students did not understand the definitions I wrote on the board. Therefore, I learned about how students’ performance in one subject might affect another subject. I take it for granted that I can read and write English fluently, but there are students who cannot read English fluently. As a math teacher, I must anticipate that happening and simplify the definitions for them.
Learning math is mostly associated with sitting down and taking notes. My challenge for myself is to incorporate fun activities or short field trips so that students can see learning math as FUN. I deeply enjoyed Professor Edstrom’s Math and the City presentation last fall, and I believe that it is crucial to incorporate Math and San Francisco. With a real-life connection, perhaps the students will start to see math from a different perspective. Today is just the first day, and I have six more weeks to reach that goal! Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more updates!