What's in an MA?

As part of my Teaching Fellows program I am required to take classes towards my Masters so that in two years I will be a fully certified teacher. At best, my weekly class is a chance to commiserate with my co-Fellows and at worst the affair is a total waste of time. This semester I'm taking Multicultural Literacy and a general seminar. I don't want to say that the Masters program is completely worthless experience, but I'm just having a hard time finding the value from the abstract discussions in my university classes when I'm grinding it out as a real teacher on a daily basis in my classroom.

To put things in a positive light though, I will say how good it is to see my co-Fellows regularly. We really are a Band of Brothers (although all but five us are women), fighting the good fight in the trenches of New York City's worst schools. I can't speak for everyone, but for me, just seeing my co-Fellows refocuses me and reminds me of how far we've come already.

On top of that our weekly reunion gives me a chance to gain some perspective on my situation. Yes, things are hard. But, my administration is far better from some of the nightmare stories I'm hearing of vindictive or wholly incompetent principals. My support network of teachers and specialists is definitely preferable to the situation of many of my co-Fellows who find themselves lost with little advice and no curriculum map. I said last week, "Things could always be worse." Unfortunately for many of my co-Fellows I'm not sure if things could be much worse.

As one of my co-Fellows said today, this is the state of education in NYC. Our class of 25 is a small subsection of 1500+ Fellows who are a subsection of the largest school system in the nation. We find ourselves lost, overwhelmed and under-prepared. How are things ever going to improve when a program like Fellows that is meant to heal a broken school system is producing so much frustration and failure? I don't have an answer, but it's a question that keeps coming up in our group during our weekly meetings.

Comments

the fellows program is a trip. it takes the most unqualified teachers and puts them (us) in the schools with the highest needs.. hmmm. something is wrong in that equation..
ruben said…
I wouldn't say it takes the most unqualified teachers. I think we're exceptionally qualified and my school has about 10 Fellows, a couple of whom are on the fast track to master teacher/administrator status. We're smart and incredibly quick learners who are able to adapt quickly. I will say that we are very under-trained/unprepared compared to regular teachers.
retirededucator said…
You wrote:
> How are things ever going to improve when
> a program like Fellows that
> is meant to heal a broken school system is
> producing so much frustration
> and failure?

While the publicity for NYCTF (Fellows Program) proposes that it is helping to fix what is wrong the DOE simply views Fellows as cheap labor.

As nyc teaching fellow observed it is just about insurmountable for an inexperienced teacher in a high need school to succeed.

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