Where Are They Now? (The NYCTF Edition)

Jose VilsonEducation, Jose4 Comments



Sometimes, on days like this, I think about my NYCTF training, and wonder, “Where are they now?”

I’m especially thinking about my pre-service training, where the most capricious and snobby kids weren’t in the classroom, but training to be teachers along with those of us who were more in it for the students themselves. I think back to what a horrible mess some of the classes were and wonder how I still stayed in the teaching profession.

I remember for one class, we started out auspiciously enough, working on projects and having friendly and contentious debate about pedagogy. Then, somewhere along the line, the students (who coincidentally came from the top schools like Harvard, et. al.) fancied themselves too good for their professor and began to deride his methods and become overtly condescending to a man who’s been in the system for almost 2 decades. While I understand that there’s always a need for a little change, you have to earn your wings to get to that man’s level, no matter how intelligent you think you are. Other students in the class took courage in disparaging this professor that he changed the format from one that was fun and real to one that was mundane and unchallenging.

With incidents like that, and a few more that I’ll have to get to next week, were sitting there, contemplating out loud who we thought would actually make it through their first year of teaching. While the prospects statistically didn’t look good for them, I’m still highly intrigued as to who made it and who didn’t.

Maybe here’s an essential question to think about, folks:

If you’re a snob, can you make it in inner-city teaching? And isn’t humility intrinsic in teachers? (Confidence is fine, but isn’t humility necessary or am I mistaken?)

Jose, who really is wondering what all those people are doing with themselves, and wonder if the kids tore them a new one when they got a new classroom …

Comments 4

  1. I think if they were snobs, the latter happened because children can smell fear and snobs a mile away. It’s not fair to come into a classroom thinking you’re better than your students because they’re from the inner city or for whatever reason.

    I don’t think you’re mistaken. Teaching is one of the hardest jobs one can ever have and it definitely takes confidence AND humility AND perserverance.

  2. I don’t know whether this is unique to folks from your program. I took my master’s at Queens College, and I was often embarrassed by the way working teachers addressed the professors. I mean, I can be as big a pain as anyone, but it was very clear the professors knew more than the questioners. I’d make an exception, though, for some of the ed. classes I was compelled to take, where we were lectured about conditions in high schools, about which the professors seemed to know nothing whatsoever.

  3. Thanks for this one, Jose. I’m convinced humility (real, not the fake “oh, no really it’s nothing, I’m just naturally amazing”) is essential to success, and not just in education. But here’s an added observation: Snobs who come into teaching think they are the best thing to ever happen to their students, and they are most arrogant towards their veteran teacher colleagues. In fairness, there can be a prejudging on both sides, but I found those newbies who were willing to really listen to the successful teachers who were already in the trenches (if they were wise and looked around to see who those teachers were), not only survived, but went on to be great teachers themselves.

  4. Post

    Rox, thanks for dropping by. I have a feeling your assessment’s probably correct. Sometimes I do wonder how people can come into this profession with that mentality.

    NYC, there is that weird conundrum between the good professors with the terrible students and the terrible professor with the more knowledgeable students.

    Renee, there’s definitely prejudging on both sides, but as a new teacher who’s seen it firsthand, I more often than not cannot stand the new teachers’ attitudes towards the elder ones. What ever happened to respect for elders? Some don’t earn it, but when you’ve worked in the public school system for 20+ years and it’s obvious you still work hard, that deserves a lot of respect. That might be me though. I’ve oft been called an old man.

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