Friday, May 11, 2012

Teacher Appreciation Week | Japera Parker

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week!!! I just want to show love to all the teachers out there giving their all and pouring into our kids. It's a tough job and they are under-appreciated...and often underpaid. These teachers work HARD and they play a very vital role in society. THANK YOU ALL!!!!!


W&I: What grade and subject(s) do you teach?

Japera: 7th grade English

W&I: What made you want to be a teacher?

Japera: In college, I was a mentor for a youth organization and found working with youth fun and inspiring. I was a journalism major, but I chose, after graduation, to join Teach for America, an Americorps agency that finds teachers to teach in underprivledged areas in an effort to close the achievement gap between the nations richest and poorest school districts. Baltimore, DC, and PG County were on the list. I was so moved by this effort that I applied for the program the day before the deadline and was accepted.

W&I: What are the joys of being a teacher?

Japera: Making connections with students and the relationships we build brings me the most joy. Students have a tendancy to latch on to certain teachers and I have had the pleasure of building relationships with many students inside and outside of the classroom. We've done fashion shows, tea parties, sororities, etc. The most fun I had, however, was coaching the swim team. Being a teacher/coach allows you to help students grow academically as well as socially.

W&I: The struggles?

Japera: People will never understand the stress of being a teacher, especially in an underperforming school district. Ten-plus hour work days, piles of grading, standards-based performance, classroom management, lesson planning, constant observations and feedback cycles, data driven units, state tests, TEXT MESSAGING, pressures from administration, parent communication (ie. angry parents), and students who are way behind. Just writing this makes me tired. Sometimes it feels impossible.

W&I: What keeps you going?

Japera: The next vacation day???? (Is that taboo?) Honestly, seeing the disparity between the prep school I attended until high school and the education these students are receiving makes me angry. Communities where parents don't read to their children or teach them how to read and by 10th grade students are on 4th grade reading levels or can't do simple math calculations in their head, makes me angry. If I don't do it, who will?

W&I: Any words of wisdom/encouragement for teachers that may just be starting out or having a hard time?

Japera: The first year is like jumping into ice cold water. It's hard for everyone but you will get through it. The second year is easier and the third year is when you hit your stride. Words of advice: 1) Don't grade everything. Pick the most important and throw the rest away. 2) Set your expectations and be consistent. 3) Fake it till you make it in front of the kids.

W&I: What changes would you like to see in the education system?

Japera: We need more charter schools that don't have to listen to the state educational system and it's red tape that actually keep our students behind. For example, if a public school suspends too many students they find themselves on the "persistently dangerous list" and the school can't pass AYP, making them an underperforming school. What this pressure for the state does, however, is allows students to curse out teachers in the classroom without being suspended, because adminstrators can't suspend too many kids. They'd rather save suspensions for fights, or bigger issues.

W&I: How can we, as a community, help to keep our kids motivated and excited about education?

Japera: Teach children, nieces, nephews and cousins to value education. Help your niece learn how to read. Ask your 3 year old cousin to count. Make sure your nephew can do his times tables when you see him. Every childs priority should be learning, so everyone in the community needs to be responsible for this happening, not just the teacher.

W&I: It still takes a village people. Well, after all of these awesome interviews I'm motivated to make some changes and affect some young lives. Thanks Japeraaaaa!!!! Round of applause to you. I've seen the kind of work you have to put in first hand...she had me grading papers yall. Never...again lol.  

Well, this is the last of the teacher features (rhymed that on purpose lol) Happy Teacher Appreciation Week to all of you. Hope the rest of the school year goes smoothly and that you have a wonderful summer vacation!! YOU DESERVE IT!!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment