I am an educator. I have taught grades every subject from K-12 since 2006. At my current school, teachers are called mentors. Mentors don’t just teach material for students to learn. They teach students HOW to learn. They encourage students to be the navigator of their own education. My lessons are a compass that can point the students in the right direction and give them skills to survive any learning adventure…but the students make the map and choose their destination.
Most schools have a plan to pass standardized tests and show student growth. They choose the learning destination for their students. Some schools even prioritize test scores over everything else. My current school prioritizes students over everything else.
Every student is on a unique learning adventure that is influenced by many factors such as past academic performance, their growth and maturity, their home life, their friends, or current events. Because we look at the whole child, the mentors at my school can really customize a student’s education. My school believes that every student can be successful on their educational journey no matter the circumstances they might face.
Some students fail because of an academic problem. We can help. Some students might have to overcome problems at home. We can help. Some students might be facing a serious illness. We can help. Whatever the obstacles students face on their educational journeys, the mentors at my school are here to help. We can’t change the student’s problems. Through our academic classes, students can learn to become principled leaders who can control their responses to any and all adversities they will weather in their lives.
Working as a mentor at a charter school like mine has helped me develop a stronger relationship with my students. I have seen this relationship have a profound and positive effect on achievement in a way I never thought possible. At my school, I teach students how to learn despite what weaknesses they may have or burdens they may face. I actually “teach” history and ELA, but what I really do is give the students the freedom to explore learning for themselves. In the process of all this, students not only learn how to navigate the Common Core Standards, but how to navigate life. Education is not a destination; it is an infinite journey. Nothing makes me happier than being able to help students on their own educational journeys.
I am still on the journey of learning. Every year, I teach a few students while I am on my journey. And every year those students teach me some too. The students and I cross paths and explore together for a while…until the student finds a path to follow that I have not yet walked. I don’t know where their journey will take them, just as I am not sure where mine is taking me; but it is a comfort to know that I have taught them to be explorers of knowledge. That has been possible because charter schools have allowed me to explore so many different educational opportunities and techniques.
Charter schools have been an important part of my own educational journey and will continue to be for years to come.
Read Christina’s family’s story here.