Being a son of math teachers, I feel like I was born in a classroom, a math classroom. Summer vacations, weekends, and days off for me always meant going to school workshops and meetings. So it came to no surprise that I would fall in love with the art of teaching. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing that “ah ha” moment go off in the students heads. Though there was no surprise to me taking to education as I did, I never thought that I would end up being a teacher! C’mon, I hated the teacher’s kid stigma and how even the substitute teachers would throw my dad’s name out to shut me up. My mother even warned me of the stress and demands of the job. I kept my major as far away as possible from education, but unconsciously I was doing it, I was teaching. Whenever a teammate needed help, I was inviting them to the library or dorm common area to study. I even took up a job on campus as a tutor! Silly me. My fate was sealed however after I graduated from college and took on substituting as a side job while I continued pursuing track. I’ll never forget it; my first sub assignment was a kindergarten class in East St Louis. They were the most adorable little learners I had ever seen and they LOVED to get the questions right so that they could do their ritual chant for the student who answered the question.
Moments leading to that kindergarten class and that class bring me 10yrs later to where I am now. I have learned so much and continue to learn so much about education, children, how schools are ran, and mathematics, the subject I love so much. Every week I will attempt to share what education has become and is becoming in America, particularly inner-city America.
Being the only African American male in the math department of a predominately black school district causes me to see through much different lenses than my counter parts. It also affords me the opportunity to create unique relationships because of my ability to relate. This means that I end up doing much more than teaching Algebra or Geometry. I end up in many cases counseling, teaching about life, making career choices, and helping students identify who they are.
What do you think it means to be a school teacher in today’s society?