Teaching is a profession of connection and progress. In traditional schools, it can be easy to lose sight of the individual students in our care, especially when class sizes often swell to over 30 in a class. Multiply that times five or six class periods, and the job is staggering. What I like best about my job as a teacher at Community Collaborative Charter School can be broken down into three overlapping parts: connection, curriculum, and progress.
The aspect of working at Community Collaborative Charter School that is most important for me is the connection I have to my students. In a traditional setting, I may know a handful of students in my classroom, but for the most part my connection to them is through a group dynamic. Here at Community Collaborative Charter School, I have to opportunity to get to know my students more personally. That’s good for both of us, but especially the students. I find that students do better work and ask more questions when there is not the pressure to be part of the class and where the teacher has time to devote to questions and instruction. The personal connection also allows me as a teacher to see what students’ strengths and interests are and to encourage those areas while building up weak spots.
Another nice thing about working here at Community Collaborative Charter School is the personalized course of study and using the curriculum appropriate to where each student is academically, rather than to where they “should be.” For example, if I have an eleventh grader who had a tough 9th grade year, I can assign her English 9 without the need for extra hours or evening school, often times at the same time she completes 11th grade English. Students are also able to make up credits in other classes. Kids at Community Collaborative Charter School also have the opportunity to participate in performing arts, driver’s ed, and skill seminars. Our curriculum is tailored to whatever the students’ needs are rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. When given choices, the students have more control over their own learning, which often means they learn more than if they had no choice.
Finally, the students I serve are able to see their progress. Because we meet one-on-one, we can often have discussions regarding grades, credits, and graduation requirements. For students who have struggled in school, often for years, it is nice to be able to show them that their work matters. After several weeks of diligent work, kids earn credits and beam with pride at their grades. It’s not very often that teachers can discuss progress with students at such a personal level. For times when progress is hindered due to lack of understanding, I am glad to be able to slow down, offer some tutoring and skills practice, and make sure a student understands what is expected and how to complete their work. I a classroom of 34 students, I would be forced to advance at the pace of the crowd, but here I can work at the pace of the individual.
I am very fortunate to work at a school with a group of people who value education the way I do. I think any teacher at Community Collaborative Charter School would agree that connection, curriculum, and progress are the facets of our work here that keep us motivated to work for the betterment of our students and the future.
Independent Study Teacher