A year ago, I took an education class that basically inspired me to be a teacher. In the class, I was exposed to some pedagogical theory, and ever since, I started noticing some of the glaring flaws in the education system in the U.S. and I wanted to fix them - to put theory to practice. However, I was never aware of the fact that my urge to fix the system was also a desire to move it closer to my ideal. My own experiences in high school and college have been so influential in shaping my views about education that I almost forgot that high school can be so different for other students. That’s where STEP came in. If I didn’t have my feet on the ground, working with students one on one and getting to know them, I never would have arrived at this realization. Reading about ideas on the way education should be cannot be divorced from the way education is, and STEP has given me the opportunity to see a part of the system from a different perspective.
As I continue on my path towards being a teacher, it is this realization that I hope to never forget. The flaws in the education system aren’t just abstract problems to solve – they affect real students every day. Tutoring with STEP has given me an inside look at just a few of the problems facing high schools and high school students, but this knowledge is so valuable. It is now some of the testimonies of students that shape my ideals, as opposed to pure pedagogical theory. As I work towards being a better teacher, I think it’s so vital to remember that each student has a story - each student brings to class their own goals, their own likes and dislikes, their own strengths and personality, and it’s so very important to recognize that. Pedagogy driven only by the goals of the teacher and ignorant of the goals of the learner is carrying around a pretty big oversight.
My time at STEP has also taught me about the importance of patience – sometimes the sweet feeling of clarity is visibly evident while other days I’ve had to remind myself that progress is gradual. I’ve learned about the dangers of complacency. It’s easy to come to work and fall into a routine of working on just an assignment. For me, this trap has underscored the importance of going into each tutoring session with the goal of helping that student become an independent learner - and finding new ways to emphasize that at every chance. On top of all this, the bonds I’ve made through STEP are the icing on the cake. I’ve met some pretty unique people and I sincerely hope the bonds we have can continue to grow in the future.
Above all, I’m simply grateful to STEP for the opportunity. It scares me a little to think that I could have gone the year without meeting some people and learning so much. It’s not every day you find a job with such great support and potential to grow, and I’m sincerely thankful for that.