Last week Carmen and I had our after school teacher orientation meeting with Girls Inc. and the UA Institute. We went over a lot of the important things we’ll need to know to be successful teachers in the program: how the girls are selected to be there, when snack time is, and what kinds of technology we’ll have access to at the school. In dicussing classroom behavior one of the other teachers said, “Oh, and don’t share anything about your personal lives. Just don’t answer. And, don’t accept their friendship on Facebook.”
Say what?! A flash ran through my brain, a composite image of what a Google search might look like for my name. As a designer who works primarily on the web, and a young person who grew up with internet during my college days, there is plenty of juicy information to be found about me in the data-driven internet world.
Then I started wondering what other challenges we will face that we hadn’t thought about yet. As part-time teachers we’ll have a number of typical challenges already: not knowing how the school system works when we’re not there, not knowing the kids very well, and not knowing the norms for behavior outside of our class.
As outsiders coming into the structured world of education, we are likely to find other parts of the system we’re unfamiliar with. Of course we’ve done our research, but research will only take us so far. The minute we step into the classroom and experience what it’s like to stand up in front of a group of teenagers and lead them to learn something new, we will face myriad other challenges that we never thought we’d be tackling.
We plan to embrace our differences. We have the privilege of interacting with the education system without carrying a history of experience to discourage us from trying new methods and potentially failing. We possess knowledge that we’ve gained through research and can come into the system to disrupt it exactly where we believe it needs to change. We may not teach like experienced teachers, but perhaps that’s a good thing when teaching innovation and creativity to our students.
Our first class is next Wednesday. What’s your advice to us as new teachers? What will we be most surprised about?