Wednesday, 02 March 2011 21:50

Looking for a Better Way

I first gave serious thought to becoming a teacher in 1992 during my final semester as a sociology major at the University of Virginia.  I took a Sociology of Education course and loved every minute of it.  In class we discussed and analyzed American schooling in a way that was completely new and exciting to me.  When I graduated, I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a living, but teaching was increasingly on my mind as a potential option.   

I worked a bunch of part-time jobs back home in Los Angeles in the year that followed while I figured out my next step.  By far, my favorite job was working as a teacher’s aide at Overland Avenue School.  I split my time between two fifth grade classes and did yard duty before school and during recess.  I loved working with the kids, and I was fascinated by the innerworkings of an elementary school classroom.  I even loved yard duty.  Each day after work I read all the education books I could get my hands on.  Theodore Sizer’s well-known Horace trilogy was especially influential.

One of the fifth grade teachers knew I had a growing interest in pursuing a career as an educator, and she gave me many extra responsibilities, including the opportunity to teach lessons to the class.  I will forever be grateful for these opportunities because they gave me a strong sense of how fulfilling and interesting teaching could be.  At the time a student-teacher from UCLA was working in the same class, and I learned about the UCLA Teacher Education Program from her and her field coordinator.  By the Spring, I decided to apply to that program and finally live out my dream of attending the school that was only a mile or so away from my childhood home.

There were many pivotal moments during my year at UCLA that shaped my development as a person and as a teacher enormously.  One came after I taught a lesson as part of my first student teaching placement.  I was sitting outside the room with one of my supervisors, Sharon, who had come to evaluate me that day.  Our conversation centered on classroom management, a topic in which I had become quite interested.

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