Two years ago, I was on track to finish the Hunter Literacy Graduate Program by Spring 2016. One year before graduation, I was offered my first teaching job at a charter school in Brooklyn. In order to accept the job, I needed to take a year off from grad school. At the time, I was supposed to begin filling out this portfolio, telling who I was, the roles I play, and what my personal and career goals were. I kept avoiding it, because I didn't feel like I had enough experience or enough to say about who I was as an educator, especially since most of my friends in the program had "real" teaching jobs. Now, after being a 1:1 special education teaching assistant, a co-teacher at a charter school, and a special education teacher in a public school integrated co-teaching (ICT) classroom, I finally feel ready to tell my story.
My journey as an aspiring teacher began at the College of Saint Rose. Initially, I went to school for teaching simply because I loved kids. I went into the General/Special Education Dual Degree program because someone told me "I'd be more marketable," However, from the first day of my very first education class, I was hooked. During my undergrad, my passion for teaching grew with each year. This was especially true when I took my first special education class. Through this class, I was able to experience what it was like to work in a self contained elementary school classroom, with students who had moderate to severe disabilities. To this day, I remember it as one of the most amazing and rewarding experiences I've ever had. This opportunity strengthed my belief that all children can learn, it all depends on the teacher and the environment that they create for their students.
Much like my undergraduate education, my first day at Hunter College was just as empowering. I couldn't wait to learn more and become a better literacy educator. Prior to starting my grauate degree, I didn't know much about teaching reading and writing. It was eye opening to learn not only how children develop as readers, but how we as teachers can provide them with the expereiences and opportunites they need to foster a passion for reading and writing. In many of my classes, I was asked to put myself in the student's shoes. To think back to when I was learning to read and the experiences that I had. To write and develop stories based on my own life. It was through this process of constant reflection that I realized who truely had an impact on the person I am today. I realized that my dad's story telling when I was little was so much more than an effort to put me to sleep. That my teachers who believed in me and made the extra effort to find books that were engaging were the reason I became a reader. That my best friend's journaling inspiration made me the avid writer I am today. This is the impact I want to have on all my students.
Literacy is everything. It's the way we communicate, learn, and grow as people. Most importantly, it shapes us and molds us into who we are. I want all of my students to feel confident as readers, writers, and thinkers. I want them to grow up and pursue their dreams. Regardless of where they came from or whether or not they have a disability, I want to provide them with experiences and opportunities that will help them reach their full potential. As a literacy educator, my hope is continuously inspire my students, just like my family, teachers, professors, and friends did for me. To find their love of literacy and the world of creativity, imagination, and opportunity that it offers.