If you're not currently teaching, what are you focused on?:
I'm the program director at Project H Design, where I work on design curriculum and teacher education projects (like Unprofessional Development).
How many years have you been teaching?:
I taught in New York City public schools for nearly 10 years, and developed courses in anthropology, computer science, cartography and feminism, among others.
Christina Jenkins is a teacher and designer who developed her practice over nearly ten years in New York City classrooms. She launched a middle school technology program featured by PBS Frontline, and later taught interdisciplinary courses ranging from anthropology to cartography at the NYC iSchool. She is a Fund for Teachers fellow, an Academy for Teachers fellow, and a Blackboard award recipient, and has spoken widely about her work. She's studying computer science and has a lifelong love of classical piano.
Hey natasha seng! I started teaching ten years ago at a middle school in the Bronx that worked with Publicolor for about a year, and it was so transformative for the kids. I heard later that one of them continued with the program through high school, and another one of my students at a high school downtown was also involved. I still remember that Cara, our Publicolor mentor/teacher, would bring snacks for the kids that were "unusual" in some way - sushi, etc - because she believed that all of the work (even eating!) was meant to help them understand that trying new things is awesome. I just referred a new school on the LES to Publicolor because it was such an incredible experience for me and my students. You should definitely say more about the organization in this space - I'm sure other folks would love to know more.
Danny Scuderi Thanks for raising this question! It's so important ... and I have no idea what the answer is. In some ways I think it's true that it's contrary to the nature of the project to 1) pursue personal work, and then 2) explain it in the context of the classroom. But that IS the purpose of the sabbatical, right? To impact pedagogy in some way. Perhaps there's some sort of rubric for how teachers might spend their time – eg, must be connected to the teacher's discipline, must have some sort of demonstrable outcome after three weeks, etc – and then there's a common language to talk about the work afterward. There are certainly ways of spending this time that are less useful in terms of impact on pedagogy (like I'm going to work at an animal rescue sanctuary for three weeks and I teach Mandarin) so I do think there should be some accountability on the front end and some reflection when they return.
Mahmoud ABDELRAHMAN I love the idea of teachers spending their sabbatical in a professional role. There's so much value in that experience, and I completely believe that they would return to their classrooms with a perspective that would inform (maybe transform) their teaching.
I'm less certain about the "professionals" coming into the classroom alone. In my experience, many folks who have professional expertise struggle to connect with young people about their work. If a science teacher does an exchange with someone working in, say, solar energy, that scientist must have some way of talking about his/her work in a way that anticipates what students know, don't know, and are interested in.
I don't think folks must be certified to teach well. And, I do know that folks who don't work in schools have important experience to share about industry. I'm also wondering if it's hypocritical for me to say that teachers can apprentice in a professional environment but folks with professional expertise can't lead a classroom. Perhaps it's that I don't imagine the teacher would be expected to do the same job as that of the scientist while on the sabbatical (at least not without support), and I feel the same about the exchange in the classroom.
This is making me think a lot about how to make this work. What do you think?