Educator Shares Her Thoughts on Staying in the Classroom

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To the Editor:

I write in response to a first-person essay published on your Education Week Teacher site ("Why I Plan to Stay in Teaching"). As an educator for the past seven years, I have had the privilege of working in magnet schools as well as in high-needs schools.

When I began my teaching career, I was placed in a Title I elementary school in southwest Louisiana with students who were economically disadvantaged. I walked into my first year as an alternative-teaching-certification candidate with an undergraduate degree in sociology.

In other words, I knew nothing about curriculum, pacing guides, or standards—but I knew if something didn't change in education, more and more African-American males and females could possibly enter the criminal-justice system.

If only I knew then what I know now, maybe I would have been more prepared for what I was going to face in my classroom. On a daily basis, I encountered students who battled parent absenteeism, gangs, and lack of exposure to the world beyond their "gated" housing development.

As a first-year teacher, I probably was not the most effective, but what I did understand was love, care, and survival. I survived the school year without shedding any tears or getting verbally attacked by a parent, and I was able to equip my students with some of the skills and tools necessary to become successful and productive citizens of society.

The reason I became an educator and my rationale for continuing my path in education remain unchanged. I teach to educate children and expose them to a world outside their local communities and to guide them on which paths to choose.

Amanda E. Austin
5th Grade Math and Science Instructor
Mayfair Laboratory School
Baton Rouge, La.

Vol. 35, Issue 30, Page 24

Published in Print: May 11, 2016, as Educator Shares Her Thoughts on Staying in the Classroom
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