Yesenia Peralta co-taught a fourth grade class at P.S. 1 in the Bronx.
“Dream Big, Bronx Girl, Dream Big”
On the day of the deadline, February 9th, I submitted my application for the Teaching Fellow position with Practice Makes Perfect. After submitting, I said to myself: what’s the worst that could happen? At least I applied—and because I applied, I have a chance. I also thought that there was no way that they were going to look at an application that was submitted minutes before 11:00 PM. Yet, I remained hopeful.
You’d think I’d be fully prepared to teach a classroom of New York City public school students after 4 years of study—except I wasn’t. I did not feel fully equipped to teach in September. Yes, I knew how to write units of study, lesson plans, to differentiate, to enrich, to build a safe and sound learning environment, etc. And yes, I had observed several classrooms for several hours and student taught—but was I able to implement and practice all that I knew into the classrooms that I visited? No. I was limited to what I was able to do because it was not my classroom, and the students knew that.
I wanted a Teaching Fellow position with Practice Makes Perfect because I needed what they were offering. I needed to have the full classroom experience that I was missing, and I am incredibly thankful to have received it during the summer of 2016. When the program came to an end, I felt prepared and ready to teach in the upcoming school year. Not just prepared to teach in the classroom, but also prepared to communicate with the parents of my students and make a wider impact.
I am currently a special education teacher at P.S. 360, a school within the community where I grew up. A lot of my students are my neighbors and we all share the same cultural background. I have realized that I am now a public figure in my community and that I should take advantage of the impact that I can make in the lives of my students because of it. From the summer, I learned that students value their education far more when their teacher reflects their cultural background. I am more than thankful to have a full-time teaching position at this school because I knew I wanted to serve my community of the Bronx as soon as I finished my undergrad studies and I was far more certain and ready after the summer experience with Practice Makes Perfect. I hope this post inspires future educators to teach within their community, whether it is the community of the Bronx, Brooklyn, or New York City as a whole. I know I want to stay in NYC and serve the high-need schools of NYC, this is my city. In addition to working as teacher, I am currently pursuing my masters degree in special education and I plan to further my education by pursuing a doctorate in educational policy. I tell myself "dream big Bronx girl, dream big."
If you’re interested in changing a life this summer as a Teaching Fellow, click here for more information and to apply!