Our Teaching Fellow position was created to help give college students an idea of what they want to do with their future. The position is supposed to shed some insight into the lives of potential future teachers as to whether or not this is the profession that they see themselves committing the rest of their careers to. Though the mentor position was not directly created for the same reason, the mentors also experience a similar revelation. Mentors as young as eleven years old have some idea of what they want to do when they grow up, and many of them think that what the want to do is eventually become a teacher. This summer, the mentor position was used for many as a way to see if that is truly the path that they want to follow. Diana, an eighth grade mentor from D23 site 2, was able to figure out if teaching was the right path for her, which she thought it was for so long. Through this journey she learned that though teaching looks easy, it is not as it seems – there are many ups and downs. However, despite the conflicts and obstacles, it is worth it in the end to see a scholar smile, laugh, and learn! Keep reading to find out what Diana learned about herself and her future through her mentor position with PMP.
‘During middle school, I always wondered what it would be like to be a teacher. I became interested in being a teacher after being around little kids on lunch duty at my school. Also, when I was younger my sisters and I would play teacher; they would be the students and I would be the teacher and it was very fun. It was fun because I used to do the schedule and plan my lessons, and I enjoyed doing this.
One day, Ms. Manns, our Assistant Principal, asked who is interested in working and I volunteered. Later that day, Ms. Manns explained that we would be working as mentors for a program called Practice Makes Perfect (PMP). She let us know that someone would come to train us later on that day. When Ms. Moore was training us she made the program seem exciting because we were going to help the scholars with their work and help them resolve their problems. To be honest, at the beginning of the training I thought I wouldn’t be able to do this, but when I went to the PMP program I realized I have the potential to do this and more.
I accepted the position to be a PMP mentor because this summer I wanted to try out something different; I wanted to be sincere this summer. I didn’t have plans, I was just going to stay home. I also accepted the position to be a mentor because I love kids and I wanted to experience how it is to be a teacher. I wanted to see what some challenges teachers face when teaching and general obstacles. I also wanted to see if I like working with kids so I can have an idea if I would actually like to be a teacher or not.
Teachers and mentors face obstacles everyday. Some conflicts I faced as a mentor at the beginning of the program was that I had to memorize all of the scholars’ names and that was difficult for me. For example, I asked Jahmai for his name like three times in one day and then the next day I asked him again and he said I told you my name yesterday. I told him that it was difficult for me to memorize all of the scholars’ names in one day. Jahmai said sometimes he forgets people’s names too. What I liked about this conflict is that Jahmai understood where I was coming from, that there are too many names to remember in just one day.
Another conflict that I faced as a mentor, and other mentors also faced, is that we were too friendly and too close to some of the scholars. When it was time to do work they would always depend on me and would want me to give them the answers. For example, I got too close to Angel, we talked and laughed together but when it was time for Angel to do her work she would always call my name and ask me for help. I soon realized that she was depending on me. One day, Angel asked me for help and I went to her desk and I asked her did you read the directions? And she said no. One thing is the friendship, and the other thing is the studying and working hard on your own without your friend – there should be a balance between the two.
I learned a lot about myself being a mentor. What I learned is that I have more patience than I originally thought. For example, when I told the second graders to line up and they don’t line up right away and I have to say it more than two times, I don’t get angry I just become more persistent and eventually they listened. Also, what I have learned about myself is that I like to listen to the Teaching Fellows and Ms. Bishop‘s comments and I like to follow instructions. For example, when I was helping Juan write and he needed help with his spelling, I was telling him how to spell it. When Ms. Bishop saw me do this she told me to instead make him sound it out because for some words you don’t hear some letters such as taught, talk, awesome, and so many more.
What I learned from the Teaching Fellows is that teaching can be difficult and sometimes stressful. When I was at school I thought teaching was easy but now I realize that it can be both fun and stressful at the exact same time. It can be stressful when kids don’t write their names on the paper and then the teachers have to figure out who the paper belongs to.
I also learned from the Teaching Fellows that it is beautiful when they see a scholar smile, laugh, and learn. When Ms. Dara was reading the scholar’s work she was happy because the scholars understood the lesson and the answers were correct. Ms. Kristin likes when the scholars are always happy and smiling. Ms. Kristin gets happy when the scholars understand the lesson and when the scholars finish their worksheets and then ask for more. She also gets happy when she sees the scholars smile, especially Juan who smiles all of the time.
I made meaningful connections with the college students, elementary students and other mentors that I got to work with this summer. I liked how helpful the Teaching Fellows were with the scholars, they explained everything to them and helped them with anything that they needed. I also like how Irandel, my fellow mentor, helped me when I was too busy helping the scholars, he took other scholars to the bathroom. I like how some of the scholars consider me their friend; during recess Sukanya asked me if I wanted to play a game with them and I was really happy to join.
I just want to say thank you to all of the Teaching Fellows and Ms. Bishop for letting me have a wonderful experience with PMP. Ms. Kristin, thank you for always making me laugh and smile. Ms. Dara, thank you for always asking me how my weekend was. Ms. Bishop, thank you for planning the trips, it was amazing, and I loved it. I will miss all of you.’