For those of you who don't know, Teach for America is a non-profit that recruits recent college grads to teach in urban and rural school districts. Their goal is to decrease the achievement gap of low-income kids. Kind of ironic that I just got my teaching certification, I'm working for a teaching organization, but as of right now I will not be teaching in a school in the Fall, huh? Well... I mean, it could still happen. But I'm still on the job hunt.
So far, it's been a pretty interesting experience. It's awesome to see so many people passionate about ensuring that every child in the U.S. has the opportunity to a great education. Yesterday was the Welcoming Ceremonies, and it was pretty much a bunch of speeches from Teach for America leaders, alum, and corps members about why they joined the corps, how they were inspired by their students, and just a general challenge to the 2011 corps members.
Being here makes me kind of regret never applying for Teach for America. But, while I believe whole-heartedly in their mission, and I loved teaching my kids this past Spring... sometimes I still doubt if the classroom is the right place for me. As much as everyone says I'm "such a natural," and as much as I enjoy empowering kids, and arming them with the knowledge they need to pursue their dreams, sometimes the thought of being a teacher is terrifying to me.
But on the flip side... I really do want to teach in the Fall. I'm kind of keeping my fingers crossed for a position at the school I student taught at. It'd be awesome to move up with my kids and get to work with them and impact them for one more year.
My last day was a few days before I went to Nigeria, and they were soo sweet and I got a huge bucket of cards. Most of them simply said stuff like, "We'll miss you!" and "We hope you'll be our teacher in 5th grade" and stuff like that. Two of the biggest troublemakers of the three classes made me these paper hearts. And one of them gave me this bracelet made out of heart-shaped beads. And they kept hugging me and just wanting to be close to me the whole day. There was just so much love, and I couldn't help but promise that I'd be back after I came back from Nigeria (a promise I fulfilled by showing up TWICE even though I was still ridiculously jet-lagged and had to drive down to Houston one of those days).
I felt like a major celebrity when I walked back into that school. I was walking down the hallway, and one of the girls spots me and screams, "Miss Ishola!!!" And before you know it, I was bombarded by a stampede of 4th graders.
I miss them so much. And it's in these moments that I think, "Yes, I really want to be a teacher." And moments when I go back through all their little notes to me. My favorite letter was from a girl named Bianey. If she was seeking to make tears fall from my eyes, she succeeded!
And here are a few other notes from some of my kids!
If those aren't enough to tempt me to stick with teaching, I don't know what will be....