My name is Stany Leblanc and I a Breakthrough Teacher Alumni. I taught in the summers of ’06, ’07, and ’08 in the Breakthrough Manchester program and was part of the Administrative Committee for the last two summers. I now am a Teach for America corps member in New York City teaching 6th grade English at a new public school in the South Bronx.
If you haven’t already, please visit the TFA application page. The next deadline is January 8, 2010.
Breakthrough provided me a great foundation on how to create interactive lesson plans and in knowing how to relate with students. It was great to connect to my students immediately because of my Breakthrough experience and it made the start of the school year much easier for me than other teachers. Also having an idea of how to construct a lesson plan made creating lesson plans each week a simpler task and less of a hurdle for me to overcome.
Though Breakthrough provided me with valuable skills and experiences, teaching in the New York City public schools is a struggle that I did not anticipate. It is difficult to work with different students and their divergent learning styles and problems, engage a whole class of students, and create my own plans each day while at the same time trying to improve as a teacher. Everyday brings a new problem and every lesson has its own pitfalls. Each day is a learning experience and it is difficult to assess my impact on my students.
Despite the difficulties I am starting to see early successes in my classroom. First, classroom management has become less of a problem each day. While before I was frustrated by my inability to get my class to quiet down and listen to my instructions, it is now a much easier task. My class now follows the classroom norms each day and respects my authority. It is a great feeling to walk into such a wonderful learning environment each day and this definitely has been one of my major successes.
My other major success is in creating connections with individual students. I have been involved in tutoring students after school as well as running the book club each week. Through these interactions I have been able to foster meaningful relationships with a few students that have enhanced their learning and has translated to better efforts from those students in the classroom. I am happy to have that experience with the students because that is what I believe will help me push them to success.
Teach for America is an incredible experience that has both challenged me and given me hope for my future in education. Though I know I am nowhere near being a perfect teacher, I believe that I am learning and reflecting from my experiences each day and using them to influence my growth. As my experience continues I will be glad to continue talking about it through this blog and documenting my growth as an educator in our struggling urban schools.