As a Elementary Education student, part of my training requires me to have field experiences in several school systems so that I have a well rounded view of what is happening in classrooms throughout the community. Of my two field experiences, the second experience has had the most profound effect on me to date. That is because of the challenging circumstances surrounding my host teacher.

Once a week, for seven weeks, I experienced what is was like to teach in a struggling inner-city school. I say struggling because most of the students performed below the state average on most standardized tests and the teacher was struggling to meet the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act.

The most accurate way that I can describe what I witnessed during my weekly visits to the school is to say that my host teacher taught “in spite of”. She taught in spite of numerous interruptions by students, who engaged in conversations that had nothing to do with the lesson being taught. She taught in spite of some students who answered questions with answers that had nothing to do with with the subject at hand. She taught in spite of some students engaged on their cell phones. She taught in spite of some students who randomly called out during the lesson. She taught in spite of some students who failed to cooperate with her requests. She taught in spite of the lack of support from the administration when she followed protocol for disciplinary action.

At times the frustration showed on her face but never in her voice. Never in her mannerisms. Never in her behavior toward the students. She knew that the tangents and negative behaviors were cries for attention or their way of saying that the did not understand so she was always respectful and caring in her response to them.

Although students tested her commitment to them by their sometimes disrptive behavior, she always passed with flying colors by keeping their well-being and learning as the focus. It is my hope that I will be as committed to my students as she was to hers and that my focus will always be on their well-being and their success no matter what challenges may confront me.