For most of my life, teaching was off my radar. However, when I was a junior in high school I started working as an EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teacher at an institute in Venezuela. Since I needed to earn some money, I figured that I could use my English language skills to do so. After being hired and trained for a few months, I got my first classroom full of 8 to 12 year old children. However, it was when I taught middle schoolers from the poorest area of my city that I fell in love with teaching. These students taught me more about the world than the English grammar I taught them. They opened my eyes toward poverty, cultural oppression, socioeconomic issues, social-emotional learning, social inequalities, and about the severe educational gaps that affect all of the above. I realized that I may not be able to feed all the poor, but that I could do something through education. This is why my career choice goes well beyond liking kids. I believe that education can empower minorities and the oppressed.
The first art event I attended through Chicago Semester consisted of a documentary about homelessness in Chicago. https://kartemquin.com/films/the-homestretch I still can’t believe there are about 15,000 children registered as homeless (students in temporary living situations) in the Chicago Public Schools. In the video there was a teacher who became an advocate for one of her homeless students. She also enabled him to connect with literature heroes and stories that resonated with him. Because of her guidance, he was also able to go to college. I think that a lot of social changes start with education, which is why I feel honored to become a teacher.
In order to do so, and to get certified to teach in the state of Illinois, I need to submit and pass a summative assessment that contains video clips of my teaching, samples of students' work, lesson plans, and about 20 pages of commentaries (most of it logically linked to educational theorists and research). As a student teacher, I not only spend about 2 hours preparing lesson plans everyday (after teaching for eight hours), but I also work on my certification project, attend a night class, constantly communicate with other teachers, parents, and students, and I spend about 4 hours grading (weekly) while I pretend to watch TV with my roommates. Do I get a lot of free time after work? No. Do I have lots and lots of energy after 3pm? No. Do I get to explore the city of Chicago every day? No. Is all of this work fun? Not always. Is it all worth it? DEFINITELY! The world needs ambassadors of God’s love and freedom, and I think it starts with committed and passionate educators.