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Teachers Speak (Part 2)
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August 31, 2012
This week marks the beginning of a new school year for Baltimore city’s public schools. During the summer vacation, WYPR’s Gwendolyn Glenn talked with a few of the district’s teachers about various education issues and concerns some of them have about life in the classroom. In part two of our Teachers Speak series, veteran teachers discuss some challenges they face and offer advice to this year’s new teachers. We begin with Bradley Nornhold, a seventh and eighth grade math teacher at Kipp Ujima Village Academy.
Bradley Nornhold: If I could change one thing about American education, I think it would have to be about this high stakes testing. I think teachers do need to be accountable and there do need to be standards, but I remember when I went to school there wasn’t this overwhelming stress that you have to perform and that’s probably put on the principals and put down to the teachers and teachers put it on students. Being held accountable is great but I do wonder if kids are so stressed out from these tests that learning isn’t fun.
My advice to a new teacher is to just get out there and observe. It’s what shaped me as a teacher. It doesn’t have to be in your field of study. I’m a math teacher, but I learned a lot from going into a language arts class or social studies teacher and I pick up a little bit from every teacher. I never try to copy their exact style but there’s things that work for me and every time I do that I find I become a little bit better of a teacher.
Lena Woods: My name is Lena Woods and I’m a kindergarten teacher at Southwest Baltimore Charter School in Baltimore City.
One of my biggest challenges in the classroom is just the amount of students in a setting. Since we have such a structure of a traditional setting of putting 40 kids in a room and the teacher would do instruction, when we put those 40 kids in a classroom now, we expect them to move around more and do more hands on learning. I think that’s a challenge, a logistical challenge for a classroom. Now you have 40 kids moving around a class as opposed to a smaller setting. When we see the smaller settings and smaller groups happen, the kids have a lot more learning happening, they’re able to explore their world.
Words of advice to a new teacher. Do not think of every little thing. Think of the big picture, reflect on your practices and change it but don’t sit and mull over things that didn’t go well. Things will never go exactly how you planned it. Kids will always take the instruction some other way. Just be prepared for it, go with the flow, enjoy and have fun.
Keith Featsent: My name is Keith Featsent and I teach 6th, 7th and 8th grade social studies at the Middle Alternative Program at Lombard in Baltimore City, Maryland.
What is the biggest challenge I face in the classroom and how have I tackled it? Our school is an alternative program, so we deal with a lot of emotional issues, so those behaviors are going to occur. So, inside the class, if behaviors erupt, confronting that behavior immediately, pulling that student aside, what’s the issue, how can I help you, you understand this is a classroom, so how can we fix this?
Euszell Gantuangco: My name is Ms. Gantuangco. I teach at Achievement Academy at Harbor City High School. I teach English 2, tenth grade.
My advice for the new teachers, just love what you are doing so teaching will love you back. Students will always be students. There will always be good ones and the not so cooperative ones and until you love what you do you are never going to be able to deal with them in a successful way.
Baltimore city teachers, in their own words. They were interviewed this summer by WYPR’s Gwendolyn Glenn as part of the Teacher Wall series, a nationwide, collaborative project between the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Center for Media Engagement. Yesterday's installment in this series can be found here. You can reach the WYPR Newsroom at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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