This is a picture form last spring's experiential learning field trip, from the Unit Example: Taking Care of Earth, when Kindergarten students got to see literacy in action with the Waterfront Partnership. Students learned about all the work the Waterfront Partnership is doing to keep our harbor clean and then ventured on an EcoTour with the organization to see their work in action. Students loved seeing our city's beloved "Mr. TrashWheel" in person.
Students and their families have been exposed to people, programs, resources, and connections that can open doors for them, and they are able to navigate and access those opportunities.
"All kids deserve the chance to reach their full potential—but today, only eight percent of students growing up in poverty graduate from college by age 24, compared with 80 percent of students in more affluent areas. This limits life options, affects families and communities, and has significant social and economic implications for our country. Teach For America is a part of building the national movement to change this." –Teach For America
As a Teach for America: Baltimore educator from Baltimore, I feel charged to facilitate opportunities for scholars, which first encourage scholars to take pride in themselves and their community. I want the component of access in my classroom to inspire students, as I became inspired as a young scholar in Baltimore City. Additionally, I intentionally plan, an access to opportunities, to encourage students to begin to see the stories and multiple forms of literacy, which forms the world and Baltimore community. I want these layers of experiences to open figurative and literal doors for scholars inside and outside of the classroom, molding what each scholar believes is possible. The figurative doors are each scholar's mind and the literal doors are the different dimensions of access students will reach because students and families are intentionally exposed to people, programs, resources and connections. Providing access to opportunities for my scholars is my primary intention as a Teach for America educator, I love connecting people and organizations in the city and facilitating the growth of scholars interwoven in my ability to navigate and access opportunities available for students in Baltimore City.
There are four specific access examples highlighted in my portfolio to demonstrate my ability to expose students and their families to people, programs, resources, and connections that can open doors for them:
All four examples of access facilitates a classroom where scholars begin to flourish as learners and leaders of the 21st century. Scholars, in my classroom are provided with access to opportunities to master foundational skillsin reading, math and programming, and can genuinely describe our community and the world beyond the four walls of our classroom.
My ability to navigate opportunities for my students is an integral part of my role as a Teach for America educator. It is my belief that access to resources and experiences will greatly influence my scholars life trajectory. Each experience and resource provided is accumulative and provides the scholar with different ideas and discoveries for his or her academic journey. All four points of access included provide connections for students, which open doors for them, in addition to equipping students with the tools to access further academic opportunities. The first point of access, the Books of Me Partnership open doors of literacy for students and families, allowing students to navigate and access more demanding literacy opportunities presented by 1st grade. The second point of access, ice hockey advocacy, as a former collegiate ice hockey player, encourages students to try a new sport, which has a cost barrier entry for many young scholars. My advocacy gets my students on the ice and provides students with hockey skills and familiarity to access more on-ice opportunities. The third point of access, college access provides students with an experience on a college campus, which generates an understanding of the college process and encourages students to begin to visualize themselves as college student. The fourth point of access, integrating coding into the classroom, provides students with an understanding and the tools to access digital citizenship following fourth grade. All opportunities presented in the access portion of my portfolio work together to create a masterpiece of connections, which open doors for my students, and enhance their ability to navigate and access future opportunities beyond the four walls of my classroom.
References: Baltimore Waterfront. (n.d.). Retrieved September 24, 2017, from http://baltimorewaterfront.com/healthy-harbor/water-wheel/