In this interview, Sara Tahir discusses why she chose Brown University’s Secondary English Education program, and how it is helping her reach her teaching goals.
What were you doing before the program?
After receiving my undergraduate degree three years ago, I lived and traveled in China and studied Chinese. From 2012 until this semester, I worked at the Wheeler School in the Aerie Program, teaching an assortment of languages and enrichments across the upper school, middle school, and lower school divisions. I also worked at the Gordon School in East Providence as an after school programming coordinator for middle schoolers (5th-8th grade), and as an early childhood classroom aide. You could say that I got a taste for almost every kind of grade, so I had a pretty informed idea about wanting to teach high school. Also, in my spare time, I did some freelance writing work for an online blog, The Campus Companion.
What attracted you to Brown’s program?
Having been out of university for three years, I wanted a program that emphasized a hands-on approach as opposed to learning academic theories of education. Brown’s program attracted me because of the fact that there were 2 student teaching type placements: the summer program and spring student teaching. I also wanted a small program so I could get direct feedback on what I was doing right and wrong as a teacher.
What are the highlights of the program?
The opportunity to collect at least a handful of those Brown Catering lunch bags! But seriously, the close collaboration with faculty members, cohort-mates, and the other disciplines. The support I’ve received has been excellent.
Where are you student teaching?
I’m at Classical High School, a public high school in Providence. I’m teaching 9th Grade Intro to Literature and 12th Grade AP Literature & Composition. Classical is a really interesting school, because everyone who goes there is a citizen of Providence and has to take an entrance exam to get in. The kids all want to be there, but they come from extremely diverse parts of Providence, from high poverty areas to the wealthiest of the city. It is very socioeconomically and culturally diverse.
How is the program meeting your expectations?
I’m learning a lot of useful instructional methods of teaching English that I’m able to incorporate directly into my daily teaching. There’s also ample opportunities for reflection and consultation with others.
How is the program helping you meet your personal goals?
I think I’ve become better attuned to crafting instruction that meets a diversity of learning styles and needs. I also have a better sense of the balance of student-centered and teacher-centered instruction needed in the classroom.
What do you like best about your work as a teacher?
I love talking to kids, especially about books and getting their thoughts on the weighty philosophical questions about life. Also, I like seeing all of the time I spend into crafting an intelligent design play out in my students’ learning and understanding of the material.
What would you tell someone considering the Brown MAT?
Why would you not do it?
The skills you learn as a student and teacher in this program will set you up for success in other aspects of your life.