Kid City Alumna and Teach For America corps member, Jeannette Guerra is a current 9th grade teacher at Manual Arts High School. Her time at Kid City began as participant of the high school and college programs. From a student at Orthopaedic Medical Magnet High school to a student at Cornell College in Iowa, she is now a teacher in her own community of South Los Angeles. She shares with us her motivations for becoming a teacher and how she approaches teaching from compassion and understanding, specifically through "care for" approach.
A former participant of the high school and college programs, Jeannette Guerra is a Kid City Alumna and a 9th grade teacher at Manual Arts High School. She teaches Scientific Tech & Research, Life Skills, and Health. As a Teach For America corps member, she is also a student at Loyola Marymount University working towards her Masters in Urban Education with a concentration in Digital Learning.
During my time as a student, I experienced a school system that failed to cultivate my skills. Rather than empower me, I was told that I would not survive college. This experience motivated me to become a teacher that not only teaches, but also empowers and authentically connects to students.
From my current studies as a graduate student at Loyola, I am exposed to Cultural Relevant Pedagogy (CPR), which is defined as a way of thinking that manifests in a teacher’s classroom environment.
An example of Cultural Relevant Teaching is learning about two different kinds of educators: a “care about” teacher and a “care for” teacher.
A “care about'' educator is one who craves to seek justice about the inequities students of color face in education. While this approach comes with good intentions, a “care about” educator can lose their conviction along the way if they do not see any improvement.
On the other hand, a “care for'' educator approaches teaching with the purpose of seeing students as real people. Being a “care for” teacher connects with Cultural Relevant Pedagogy in that both use the strengths of the students to teach and use the student’s culture as the basis for learning.
In my own journey as a 9th grade science and life skills teacher, I aspire to be a “care for” educator and build an assets-based classroom environment. My three reasons for teaching are to form relationships with students, to empower students, and to teach them skills they can apply to their everyday life. I want to give students the opportunity to reclaim authorship of their own lives and to voice their needs. When students are always told what to do by their parents, schools, and teachers, students are placed in a position where they are less or not likely to tell their side of their story.
In my classroom, I aspire to encourage active learning, connect students’ experiences and backgrounds to the content I teach, and to give students the space to track their own learning. A just education is one in which the students and teacher work as a team to learn the skills needed to succeed academically, socially, and emotionally.
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