Meet your Colleagues: Masumi in San Francisco

Name: Masumi Hayashi-Smith
Site: San Francisco (University High)
School attending: Brown
Returning teacher? New Teacher
Class(es) teaching:
Civil Rights History, Public Speaking, and Swing Dance


I am so excited but nervous about this summer, I sometimes can’t even sit still. Education speaks to me because it teaches people how powerful they are. Good education opens people’s minds and gives them the tools to affect positive change in the world around them. More importantly, it stimulates curiosity, which will make the students the agents in their own educational experience in any setting. I am both excited and nervous because this is such an important and lofty task where if I succeed I will make a significant difference in someone’s life, but if I don’t I could leave my students disinterested in some of the most excited things to learn about. When I first told Dr. N, my high school teacher, about my plans to teach this summer, she reminded me, “Teaching is 80% love and 20% academic”. I have a good amount of control over my academic knowledge of the subjects, but my ability to teach will be testing so much more than that. I hope that my love and enthusiasm will transform into effective, passionate teaching. The best way to find that out is empirically, which I luckily am about to do.

I am especially excited to be teaching about civil rights history. I feel that civil rights history is one of the most engaging subjects in existence. If anything will show these children that they have the potential to shape tomorrow, civil rights history should. But this also brings me to my second worry: How will I ever learn enough about civil rights history to be able to teach it? I have never learned about civil rights history in a formal setting, though I have done some reading on my own. Two days ago, I went back to my old high school and visited with Mrs. D. about teaching about the Civil Rights Movement. She left me with a lot of good names, events, and places to look up. More importantly, she left me with some good questions and ideas. I never knew that she grew up in a segregated school. Just talking to her about her personal experiences made me feel more connected to the problems people faced during that time. This makes me think that it would be valuable for my students to interview witnesses of the Civil Rights Movements. I would love if I could have people’s family members come into the classroom, or if I could encourage my students to find people to interview. It would be a wonderful way to connect my classroom to the community. Yesterday, I went to the book store and picked up The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Race Matters, and A Different Mirror. Soon, I’ll be going to the library to get some books that specifically focus on the Civil Rights Movement. Until then, I will be using the internet to learn what I can.

I also look forward to teaching Swing Dancing. Sometimes I wonder if I should have stuck to a more serious extra-curricular proposal, but I think that something fun would be more beneficial for me and my students. Additionally, students can learn about interpersonal interaction, confidence, and respect through ballroom dancing.

I can’t wait for this to start–this is going to be such an adventure!



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