Free college credits lead to a lifetime commitment to teaching

(Adapted from speech)

I chose this class [Exploring the Teaching Profession] for two reasons. Reason number one was it was an opportunity for me to earn free college credits and reason number two was that I would be getting community service hours. That was it. I didn’t expect much out of the class and wasn’t planning on becoming a teacher.  I thought it was going to be like any other class that I have taken.

However, I was wrong.  Exploring the Teaching Profession is nothing like any other classes I have taken. It is not a class where you simply learn the materials you’re taught and then once the class is over, you forget everything. No. It is a class where you learn things about yourself and others.  As students, as teachers, as human beings. It is a class where you learn things that will stay with you for a long time, if not forever. I know this because of what I have seen and come to realize in the field experience portion of this class.

In the Service Learning portion of this class I worked in an eighth grade Algebra Support Class.  I assisted the teacher, observed the classroom, and worked one-on-one with 8th graders. I was worried at first because I didn’t think I could handle 8th graders but I worried for nothing. The 8th graders, though loud and energetic a lot of the time, were good students.

There was a time when my Service Learning teacher assigned me to tutor the most challenging student in the class. This student was labeled as a troublemaker by his classmates and naturally, I thought he wouldn’t listen to me. I thought he wouldn’t do his work, but he did. I started with getting to know him and used what we had learned in class about how to make connections with students.  Then, we moved on to the Algebra. He listened to me and did his work. We even joked around a few times and he told me, “I want to be known for being bad.” It was then that I realized that deep down he was a good person. He was just a young soul still trying to find his true self. He was seeking attention in any form that he could get it.

I am grateful and thankful that I had the opportunity to take this class.  This class has given me the ability to understand others more. I have certainly grown a lot, not just as a student but also as a young aspiring teacher. Offering classes that allow students to explore careers while still in high school is very important. Especially when they offer hands on experiences, such as the service learning portion of this class.

I started this class wanting to get college credits and community service hours.  Because of my experiences I have realized that I want to become a teacher. My dream is to be a middle school math teacher teaching in Saint Paul Public Schools.  I have seen the importance of helping students learn and grow. Taking this class has changed my life and I hope other students in Saint Paul Public Schools will have opportunities like this.

-Chee Vang, Washington Technology Magnet High School