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lunes, 7 de julio de 2014

Things I learned as a Rookie Teacher ! Part 1

After a looong hiatus I'm back writing :) I apologize, I've had a couple of crazy months with the end of the school year here in Mexico and all the things you have to do in order to move to the US in August (I thought the difficult part was applying)

This year as a rookie teacher I learned so many things that I want to dedicate a post to all the big lessons, maybe later on i'll write a post on some of the things. Also here I'll make a list about the things I'll do in a different way but only to delve deeper into it in later posts. I truly believe that the things I want to change are the ones that deserve more reflection and discussion. Specially I want to talk about all this things before I start my PhD because that will mean the nature of this posts will change a little bit. I want to keep writing about #chemed but this time about the things I am going to learn as a gradstudent and how this program deeply focused on the learning sciences, policy and psychology will clash with everything I think and know about chemed. I am truly excited about my new life and can't wait to write about it here.

Now to the subject of this post:

1. You will never be completely and absolutely prepared to every possible question that your students can ask in class.

Trust me. Everytime I prepared for class I mad a list of all the things they could ask and prepare a simple answer and there wasn't a class where that list was enough. The imagination of this girls never stopped to surprise me. Also this girls were 15 (10 years younger than me) and they were born with the Internet. I know it may seem like if it wouldn't be a problem but there's a big difference !! Even though the internet has been present most of my life I learned to use it over the years this girls truly have been using it since they have memory and I truly believe they are wired differently. The amount of things they already know, heard of, etc makes them very imaginative when making questions.

2. Never underestimate the influence the background has on the learning process. Specially when it comes to girls.

This is where things from my personal life helped me relate to my students but not in a scientific way. So here comes the context. I come from a very confortable lifestyle. I've been blessed with a hardworking father and a good financially stable life that has allowed me to live things that are not so normal to the country I live in. With that I mean I belong to that little percentage of the population that in Mexico we refer as upper middle class and my students were from a private school that ranged from upper middle class to really rich girls. And I am not saying this to sound presumptuous but I think is worth telling that girls like them and me are not expected to do something from our lives. My parents bless them have supported me every step of the way but I have broken the status quo of what society expected of my from the moment I decided to study chemical engineering and made the choice to attend to a public college (BEST COLLEGE IN MY COUNTRY but still public) We grow with very specific family models. A dad that works really hard, beyond 9 to 5 and a loving mom that maybe went to college but hasn't worked a single day of her life. And before I go on I respect full time moms and I admire what they do but I think is a VERY PERSONAL DECISION and is not and ideal that should be imposed on little girls. Most of the things I remember from my childhood are the lessons of how to be a good girl. How to impress your future boyfriend's parents. How to be the kind of girl that a boy introduces to his parents. What is an appropriate conversation for a woman (no politics, soccer, etc) enough to create a good impression and never so much that it looks like you know more than your man. And this whole rant comes to the point that private schools in Mexico are good for marketing, business, etc. but there's nothing like UNAM to study a STEM career problem is UNAM is 90% working class kids not the kind of place you go looking for a husband (And yes that's the argument they gave so I wouldn't study at UNAM. I know this all seems like a poor rich girl thing to say and I can't pretend to know the things girls from other backgrounds have to face. Though thanks to twitter I have learned a few things. But this girls arrive defeated to the STEM classroom. They are already predisposed that STEM is a guy's thing, and that is something you have to fight against day after day after day in the classroom. It may sound totally silly but this girls are very afraid that they are not going to marry the good way and they are only 15.

Related to this I found the other day this amazing ad about how we don't encourage curiosity in little girls.

3. It will always feel like the first day of class.

Points one and two are things that may not change over the years of teaching. This one maybe not. You will always feel like the first day of class because every class you are teaching something you haven't taught before, a homework you have never graded a test you have never applied. When it came to tests I always was afraid that I did it to long or to difficult and every class I was afraid I would give a sucky explanation. That was also part of the fun but everyday was new and that was a good feeling, I never felt like I was stuck in a routine.

4. Teenagers are resilient to change

For kids that were born in the information age they are resilient to change. They come from a very specific education from elementary school and from some of the middle school teachers so the moment you do something completely different they tend to freak out. But changing their traditional education I think is fundamental in order to develop STEM skills.

5. Sometimes they just need someone to believe in them

There will always be people that struggle with STEM, and that is ok we need artists and people that study different things, but I discovered that sometimes kids that have always struggled with STEM think that is because they are not good enough. Taking special attention with this kids making sure they don't let the "I CAN'T" be the reason they don't succeed in some cases proved to be enough to get them from the F's to a C.

Here's part 1. I hope you liked it :)

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