Teacher exploration course leads to lessons in diversity and community building

(Adapted from speech)

This past fall I took the Exploring the Teaching Profession Course. I took this class because I was considering becoming a teacher. In this class we learned about the importance of establishing positive relationships with students and how to build community in the classroom.

From this class I had the opportunity to go to an elementary school for my field experience. I did my service learning in a second grade classroom where 97% of the students are Hmong.  Growing up, I always longed to have teachers that looked like me.  My first day of my field experience I was automatically able to bond and build a relationship with my students because like them I am Hmong. This showed me the importance of having a teacher that looks like you.  However, in my class we learned that over 96% of the teachers in Minnesota are white.

 After this whole experience, I realized how badly Saint Paul Public Schools needs diverse teachers. I vividly remember having trouble connecting with my teachers because all throughout my elementary and most of my middle school and high school experience my teachers have been white. I have noticed the lack of teachers who look like me, think like me, and the fact that I don’t have any teachers that I can fully connect with on a cultural level. I think that if Saint Paul Public Schools were able to recruit more teachers of color this would be very beneficial to students. 

 I believe that all Saint Paul Public Schools students should have the opportunity to take explorations courses that allow them to experience different careers. I am glad to be given the opportunity to take this class because it gave me a lot of insight into what being a teacher means and what that requires.  

The most important thing that I have learned is why the education system needs more people like me.  As a result of taking this explorations course, I have determined that I definitely want to be a teacher so that I can impact children’s lives. My dream is to become an elementary school teacher in Saint Paul Public Schools and live and work in the community that means so much to me.   

-Sherry Xiong, Washington Technology Magnet High School