Thursday, July 24, 2008

Teaching Award

I just got contacted yesterday and it turns out that I won a teaching award for the 2006-2007 academic year at the University of Illinois. I was kind of surprised to hear about it so late, but late is definitely better than never!

The award is currently listed here.

I can't help but reflect on how much my Teach For America experience has benefited me. I didn't join TFA because I thought it would help me. In fact, I was worried that taking time off before graduate school would hurt me. I joined TFA because of the injustice that exists in America's public school system. Now--definitely not just because of this award--I'd argue that time spent has helped me immensely in graduate school. The impact on my year as a Teaching Assistant is obvious given my top 10% of instructors on campus rating for both Fall 2006 and Spring 2007 (the two semesters I was a TA) and culminating in this teaching award. I think I have my thorough TFA training as well as two years in the classroom to thank for that.

In addition to equipping me with a skillset for effective instruction--on which I can still improve drastically--TFA helped give me clarity on what I want to do. Long term, I know that I want to teach. I'm not regularly in the classroom right now because I'm currently working on my research, but I love opportunities that I get to spend in the classroom. Also, when I heard about the local school-based mentoring program, CU1to1, it was a no-brainer that I should apply to join the program because I know how valuable this kind of thing can be for students. My mentee is going to be in the 7th grade this coming year and the hour that I spend with him each week during the school year is one of the best hours of my week. Getting other graduate students to even think about taking an hour a week to be involved in our local public schools is like pulling teeth.

So I'm honored to receive this teaching award. The fact that I'm getting it when I'm not actively in the classroom reminds me that I'm not in the classroom and that I'm not doing a lot for education right now. I guess a reminder of why we're doing what we're doing is always in order.

3 comments:

Lori Northcraft said...

Congrats!!! Aren't you glad you made the "hard" choice? :)

Itty Bitty said...

Congratulations!

Rebecca said...

Greg,

I know you're in your glory now, but the public schools are missing you something fierce! Congratulations on your well deserved teaching awards/recognition - If there was a top 1% category I guarantee you would be there too - i've never even witnessed you 'teach' but if your childhood is any indication of your teaching creativity then I think I may have some idea...again congrats from one teacher to another! cheers,
bucket