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Math camp

June 25, 2007 am30 10:12 am

You won’t catch me saying bad things about all Teaching Fellows. Yup, in many cases they don’t last in the system very long. Many come in with anti-union animus. Some of them treat their older colleagues with insufficient (no?) respect, or can be know-it-all-ish when they know very little.

25 started in 2003. 19 coming back for their fifth year; most in the Bronx there’s also Math Camp.

I met the 25 math campers four years ago, just before they started teaching. And yesterday I went to their fourth annual picnic, a few blocks from West Farms.

I don’t know that they did to make things work. They were young college grads, but also change of career-ers. And a few retirees from one career looking for a brand new one. More women than men, mostly white, but not 100% anything. Certainly not all from the same class, background, region or social group. But in that first summer of math camp, back in 2003, they must have bonded in some strange way.

(more, and stats, below the fold —>)

Saturday, sixteen of them were there, and more wanted to but couldn’t make it. At least nineteen of them will be teaching math next year, their fifth year.

Here’s the breakdown: 6 in Bronx middle schools (one is a coach), 7 in Bronx high schools (but one is going to be an admin), 3 in Manhattan high schools, 1 out in Queens. Two more will be teaching out of the city: one in the suburbs, one back in her homestate. Of the other six, three didn’t make it out of the first year, two finished three years (Teaching Fellows commitment) and left, and one we lost track of.

And they are overall a good group of teachers. They are mostly a pro-union group. They collaborate with colleagues. And are appreciated by kids.

Once a Teaching Fellow has a job, they are a NYC teacher, with all of the rights, protections, etc. It is easy to treat them as if they are in some sub-teacher category. But when we do that, we divide ourselves, we break our own unity. And why? Because of some stereotype of what TFs are? Just remember Math Camp.

These are our colleagues, and they deserve to be treated as such. They get all the protections they are entitled to, even if sometimes they don’t think they need them.

(How do you illustrate math camp? Probably not with the photo I grabbed from a Florida Disaster Medical Assistance Team training exercise, above. Pretty dramatic stuff. What kind of tent would math campers put up?)

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