Reflection: Students are great teachers

 Fall 2012, Student Experiences in Over the Rhine

Students are great teachers

Mamie Hobbs (Teacher Education major at Miami University)Contributing Writer

When I think back to my first few days in Over-the-Rhine, I don’t recognize the person that attended orientation weekend, moved into the house, and cried herself to sleep. This semester was life-changing. I was finally forced to live outside myself while my eyes were opened to a new world. Daily, I saw the injustices occurring not only in this city, but also around the world. My brain feels like it expanded twice its original size due to the constant streaming of new information and perspectives at buddy’s Place, on the street, and in the classroom.

The root of this change within myself came from the 24 beautiful children with which I spent each day. For the first time in my life, I was living truly for someone other than myself. Their laughter, anger, and determination forced me out of bed each morning, excited to get to school. I hope my students look back on this semester having left a fingerprint on their heart, however, I look back at my experience having 24 handprints covering mine.

My time spent in the classroom wasn’t all inspiring and successful. There were moments of fear, discouragement, and hopelessness. This was counteracted by the pointlessness of those thoughts. My ongoing interactions with my students constantly broke down my wall of fear and opened my eyes to fight for them, just like they were fighting for me.

Relationships and trust built with the students were my greatest challenge and greatest victory. These relationships drove everything I did in a given school day. In the beginning, as I struggled to manage the classroom, I discovered that rapport with my kids outweighed any standard or assessment.

Through these relationships I was able to get to know my students on a much deeper level. I was beginning to understand the importance of living in the community in which you teach. Since I lived in their neighborhood, I had the ability to spend time with them outside of school—attending extracurricular events or just seeing them in the park. Having the capability of doing these things by living in the community in which I taught positively impacted my ability to create a classroom environment of mutual trust and understanding.

As I look back on the semester, I gained as a teacher but more importantly as a human being, more than I can put into words. The deep-seeded structures of our country can only be broken down if people begin to see the injustices and stand up for change. I cannot be one of those people on the sidelines.

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