Name: Marni Siegel
Site: Norfolk, VA
Subject Teaching: Chemistry, French
School Attending/Year: Duke University, Class of 2011
What concerns did you have before starting your work with Breakthrough?
This is my third summer teaching, so I really wanted to focus on developing long lasting relationships with the kids. I was a bit worried about the foggy line between friend and elder. After all, I have seen the rising ninth graders really grow both intellectually and physically over the last few years. The focus of this program is about so much more than being a teacher: it’s about being a role model, and throughout the summer, we sometimes forget how much of an authority we can appear to our students.
How are you addressing them now?
At first, I was pretty sure that I had gone way over the line with a few of the girls; however, I realized that I don’t personally teach these kids in the program, and yes I am only 5 years older than them. They see me as more of a big sister, and that is ok. For the others in the program, I remain as a authority figure, a role model, who watches her words and responds wtih an ever-positive attitude. One eighth grader pointed out to me that sometimes I look like I’m irritated in the classroom after the first day. Therefore, I have really focused on keeping complete control of my facial features and body language. There are so few kids in the classroom that it is very easy to have very close relationships with the students and for them to watch the teachers very closely. To be ever mindful of body language is a great characteristic to build for all facets of life in the future.