Reflecting on Teaching in Brooklyn | #5

Friday marked the last day of my summer internship, and it marked my last day of teaching in my own classroom until I graduate from Michigan and get an actual teaching job. I have a lot of conflicting feelings about the end of my program. While on one hand, I’m glad to be able to go home and spend time with family at home, I’ve loved getting to know this city and some of the students who live here. I don’t know whether I will ever live in Brooklyn again, but I know that coming back to visit the city as a tourist would be really disappointing after being able to live and work here. NYC is an incredible place, but it took me a long time to warm to it. Being from Michigan and only ever living in small cities (Ann Arbor and metro Detroit), New York was shocking for me when I first arrived. I couldn’t understand why everyone wanted to desperately to live there—it’s constantly noisy, there’s not much nature around, and every once in a while as you’re walking, you smell the distinct odor of urine on the street. I never thought that I would grow to enjoy living there, but at this point I would definitely consider working in New York as an option as I begin thinking about applying for jobs.

I think that being in a place and living there are two very different things. As I grew to establish somewhat of a life in Brooklyn, I began to love it. I made friends in my program and we explored both city life and night life together, I became comfortable creating lesson plans and working with my 9th grade boys during school, and I established routines just from living there for two weeks. I have to give credit to the food in the city as well—I discovered some incredible restaurants and cafes while I was there. My program provided us with housing in LIU’s graduate apartments in Fort Greene—a neighborhood in Brooklyn close to the Brooklyn Bridge. I didn’t realize that I was living in such a convenient and desirable neighborhood until about a month in. I took it for granted that I was within 3 minutes from so many train lines—the A, C, G, 2, 3, 4, 5, F, and Q. Apparently this is not normal, but it did allow me easy access to much of of Brooklyn and Manhattan.  I visited some incredible art museums like the MoMA and the Whitney (a friend from Michigan actually interned there and showed me around the galleries). I saw NYU and Columbia, and looked into the Teacher’s College at Columbia as a potential grad school option. I learned to navigate the subway and no longer get lost or confused about public transportation.

I had the most incredible experience living in New York and I hope to return one day to live there again. Leaving was bittersweet, but I can be happy knowing that all of my students passed and will be allowed to continue on to 10th grade. I made some really great friends who supported me throughout the challenges that came up during work, and I also feel so much more confident about my purpose in education and what I see for myself and my future classroom.

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