Today was my first day working at Williamsburg Collegiate Charter School in Brooklyn, NY. The school day began at 8:00 for students and ended at 4:30, which is longer than most. Additionally, many students stay for extra tutoring, which meant that my day ended at 5:45. Working these hours provided me with a realistic view of what life would be like as a teacher.
When I first arrived at the school, Stephanie Greenberg ‘04 showed me around the two floors of the school. All of the hallways were decorated with banners, and posters promoting college education. I also met with several teachers, the main office staff, the academic Dean, the behavior Dean, the principal, and the recruiting director. I got a chance to sit in on several classrooms and observe the teaching styles of various teachers. Notably, most of the teachers were fairly young and had graduated from prestigious universities. Each homeroom was themed according to the alma mater of the teacher, which further enhanced the culture of “College for All.” Stephanie’s room had a huge Princeton banner that said “Class of 2020,” the anticipated college graduation year of her students. The overall vibe of the school seemed to be set by the positive attitudes of the teachers and the emphasis that college was an attainable goal for every child.
Day Two: March 20, 2012
Yesterday, I sat in on over fifteen different classes and observed more than ten teachers, but today I got a chance to engage directly with the kids. When I led the tutoring session at the end of the day, I realized that I felt extremely comfortable in front of the classroom. However, I also learned that I would need to take a firmer stance as a teacher, than as a college student simply mentoring middle school kids. As a twenty-year old student it felt so strange to be standing in a position of authority, but I learned to embrace it because my students were looking at me to set the tone of the classroom.
Overall, today’s experience confirmed my impression of the field, however it did offer some new insights. It was extremely beneficial to experience the daily routine of a teacher. I also learned solid techniques that I would apply in my classroom, such as using precise statistical techniques to track each student. Additionally, I learned about building consistency from class to class by employing the same jargon, and holding students to the same standards.
Day Three: March 21, 2012
Today I helped with a lot of the administrative tasks in the main office. Specifically, I helped the school with recruiting efforts for the incoming fifth grade class by calling local organizations to explain what Williamsburg would offer. This gave me a great chance to see the operational functions of the school, which generally take place behind the scene.
This Princeternship was extremely valuable to me. As someone with an interest in education, it was great to get in front of a classroom. The opportunity may be thought of as a type of career test-drive. Stephanie made the experience even more incredible for me. It was such a pleasure to spend three days with someone so passionate about her work and willing to share her experiences with me. The many benefits accrued during such a short time frame is even more reason for students to apply to the Princeternship Program. As a student with a hectic schedule, the Princeternship opportunity provided me with an in-depth career experience in a relatively short amount of time – obviously ideal for a Princeton student.