After spending an entire semester immersed in my low-income school district, I have learned what it is like to be challenged – really, truly challenged – as a teacher. I have students (these are 5th graders) whose life experiences at 10 years old surpass most 50-year-olds I know, let alone my own, consisting of only 21 years. In some cases, students have seen death in a brutal way and have experienced hardship after hardship in their short lives; it’s no wonder that they can hardly find the motivation to perform in academics.
As far as personal goals for the semester go in teaching literacy, I would love to instill a sense of hope in these children, accompanying a passion for knowledge that can only be quenched through reading and searching. It’s intimidating working in a classroom where you have thirty-three kids at vast ends of the reading and comprehension spectrum – I would therefore set a goal for myself this semester to learn how to connect to each student’s needs in this area since I realize that these differences in levels of competency are the norm rather than the exception. I want to learn more ways to make reading exciting, easy, and relevant to each individual – and I can’t wait to do it!