Having completed my summer at Moxie, I am now left to reflect on the amazing experience I had and the immense growth I experienced and witness throughout the six weeks. The following areas are all tied for most improved:
1.) Confidence in the classroom. This was a big one, both for the girls and myself. I really had to tune in to my own intuition to cater to girls’ needs and bring them out of their shells. Some girls were strong oral and visual learners, some were better with written assessments, and some simply needed additional individual attention. I can say that, by the end of the program, I had 100% active participation in my classes – a massive increase from week 1.
2.) Academic growth. On the second-to-last day at Moxie, the girls took the diagnostic that they were given week 1 of the program. Not only did the majority of girls show improvement in at least one of the two subjects (math and science), but also the efforts displayed by each girl had increased. Girls were attempting to do difficult problems instead of skipping them or giving up.
3.) Improved personal relationships. The hardest part of leaving Moxie was saying goodbye to the girls. By the end, I had formed unique relationships with most of them, even girls that I never expected to bond with. Like saying goodbye to any friend, it was sad and difficult, but also contained the extra weight of not knowing if/when I will see these girls again, and of the uncertainty about what will become of them.
Through Moxie, I experienced firsthand many of the issues that plague the New Orleans public school system, such as poverty, inconsistent attendance and inadequate resources. Having worked in New Orleans public schools in the past, and hoping to continue that work, I would like to really focus in on those specific problems. I believe that the system must be fixed from within, and addressing these issues can pave the way for a public school system in which parents can be proud to enroll their children.
To a future Moxie intern, my main piece of advice would be to really take the time to get to know each and every one of the girls. Spend one-on-one time with them, ask them about their weekends and home lives, and take advantage of your free periods to just observe them. You will end up with more than pupils – you will have new friends and babies.
To an aspiring teacher, my advice is to STAY ON TOP OF YOUR LESSON PLANS. DO NOT GET BEHIND. You will regret it. Also, survey your students at all opportunities. Get feedback on what they like and dislike and on your performance. Make sure to align your teachings with the appropriate grade level standards for your state. Last, but certainly not least, implement different teaching strategies and tactics for different students – really cater to the individual as much as possible.
To a student hoping to enter the nonprofit sector, my advice is to be flexible – especially with a start-up. There will be kinks of all kinds. Go with the flow, have back-up plans and be ready to improvise if necessary. Get creative – enlist the help of friends, family, etc. if you need additional resources.
Overall, Moxie taught me that despite being born into rough circumstances, everyone is not their circumstance. By addressing issues such as poverty, violence and abuse at a young age, we can help young people rise above these hardships. Children must grow up learning that they have the ability to go to college and be successful regardless of what they come from.