This week’s post comes from a special guest author, Marilyn Weleck, who is a teacher at San Miguel Cristo Rey High School in Tucson, Arizona.
In physics, when we study work, there is an apparent dilemma. Work is defined using force through a distance, and it appears that if you use more effort more work should result. However, here is the catch: if the force is not directed in the proper direction, it is possible to expend great force and achieve no work. Before my involvement with the EEI, I gave my best effort in teaching physics at a college preparatory level, but I often had questions whether all, or even most, of my efforts were “getting the work done”. I questioned the coverage depth versus breadth on any one subject. I also questioned the level and specific types of critical thinking I should require of my seniors. I questioned the extent of independence I should allow on lab inquiry and lab reports. I was not accustomed to an urban student population that had the triple demands of school, work, and a cultural shift to becoming college ready.
My participation in the Educational Enrichment Initiative has supplied the answers I sought. The curricula and list of learning skills developed by our EEI teams have now given me a strong blueprint on which to base my instruction. Training on writing annual plans and unit plans allow me to adjust and refine my lessons year to year. Last year, student alumni returned after taking freshman University Physics to report their success in that subject. For me, this was a “first”, and I know it is due to the guidance I received through EEI.
I have watched my fellow teachers at San Miguel High School open themselves to the power of working collectively with their colleagues in the Cristo Rey Network. From debating and designing college-ready curricula, to writing unit plans and exchanging instructional strategies, we each come away with the knowledge that we are supported, and held accountable, by a true network of like-minded educators. Even though, as a network, we have much work ahead, my students and I have felt a shift in direction of the Cristo Rey Network due to EEI. Because the Educational Enrichment Initiative originates and is sustained within the Network, it will continue be a uniting and motivating force in our goal for every student to graduate from college.
A thousand streams can trickle water in a thousand different directions, or join together to carve a grand wonder.