By Tiffany Karalis
What am I going to tell my students tomorrow? How do I approach this professionally when personally I’m filled with extreme terror, anger and, perhaps most of all, sadness for the decision our Nation has made for itself?
Having been on both sides of the classroom—as student and teacher—I have observed and experienced a wide range of attitudes, perceptions, discriminatory behaviors, insecurities, coteries, and puzzling moments that have taken various forms.
Am I smart enough? Am I well-liked? Am I attractive? Will I get into grad school? Will I get a job? Am I accepted by society’s standards? What if I fail?
We do not educate for the purpose of teaching students what to think, but rather for the purpose of teaching students how to think. Teaching is more than a career; it is a responsibility that encourages self-growth because, as teachers, we ourselves are continuously learning. We are learning from our students, our students’ parents, our colleagues, our friends, our family, ourselves, our supervisors, our environment, and, throughout this process, stepping outside our comfort zones to challenge ourselves in foreign territories. Being a teacher means encountering and listening to people of different backgrounds, races, sexes, genders, ethnicities, religions, philosophies, and learning styles (to name a few), which can only benefit our growth as individuals. Although we may not always know how that will eventually translate, learning something new every day is not a failing, but rather something to embrace and apply to future practice.
Education encompasses a rich history, literature, language and means of communication—just a few examples of the way this work provides our lives with endless opportunities for relatability and unity. With limitless ideas of how I intend to globally advance education through replacing ethnocentric instructional practices with the use of multicultural literature, multilingual communication, and the execution of culturally relevant research, I will rise above the era of Trump and the countless fears associated with its messages pervading the media and our schools. My primary objective is to encourage students who may not appreciate the value of unlearning; that is, to undo the effect of erroneous or obsolete knowledge by discarding it from one’s memory and replacing it with factual and reformist information. Through facilitating that transfer of knowledge using relatable stimuli and innovative perspectives from a myriad of sources and diverse perspectives, I aim to help my students recognize the power of communication and how our implementation of language can alter our perceptions and expand our insights. So the objective for the day may be to have each student successfully open the classroom door, but the multitude of ways in which this objective can be met are limitless; students must recognize there is no one right way to be or look or speak, but rather it is our differences that provide us with insights and inspirations we may not have otherwise recognized when engaging with clones of ourselves.
My teaching philosophy relies on the process of imparting the comprehensive theories, models, and practical applications for lifelong learning as both an individual and team entity. Thus, I implore you: fellow teachers, community leaders, neighbors, and friends, all of you have been feeling the impact of the future of education in the era of Trump—never give up. Never stop questioning and encouraging students to critically analyze their preconceived notions and unlock the meaning of the world around them. It is then—and only then—that we have succeeded in fulfilling our responsibility as educators.
Oh, and remember to exhale
I am a teacher of education. Yes, I teach future teachers how to teach. It’s pretty meta. I’ve been a full-time student since I began preschool, currently working on my Ph.D. in Curriculum & Instruction, having taught teacher-education college courses such as Multiculturalism and Education, Creative Writing, English as a Second Language, and Literacy Across the Content Areas during my time as a graduate teaching assistant. Prior to this, I was teaching English Language Arts to freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors in high school—so yes, you might say that I eat, breathe, and teach.