What do you enjoy most about being a Blueprint Fellow?
Jamara Knight: The greatest part about being a Fellow is that I have the privilege of working with kids in small groups. This allows me to build close relationships with the children I teach and to get to know each individual child on a more personal level. Building this rapport with students makes it easier to teach and challenge them because you know where they are academically, but also where they are socially and emotionally.
What is the most powerful part of the Fellows Program?
Jamara Knight: Being a Fellow proves powerful in the sense that we see the growth the kids achieve, but equally important is that we have the opportunity to grow as well. As a Fellow you are continuously supported throughout the year. In addition to being part of a team of Fellows, we have a Fellows Coordinator who observes our small group teaching on a weekly basis and gives us feedback on how we can better support our children in their learning. It doesn’t matter how much experience you may or may not have teaching. Our Coordinator, much like what we do with our kids, meets us at our level. Examples of supports I have received to name a few include: challenging me to ask deeper questions, ensuring that I hold kids accountable, and reinforcing ideas for structured partner work. Having this weekly feedback and scaffolded supports from my Coordinator has allowed me to grow as a teacher alongside my kids. I am grateful to have a job that is continuously challenging.
What is the hardest part?
Jamara Knight: I struggled the most at the beginning of the year when I was less comfortable with the tutoring curriculum. Planning lessons took a long time and I often worked outside of school hours to feel prepared for small group instruction.
Tell us about the students you work with. What changes have you seen in them throughout the year?
Jamara Knight: One student I worked with at the beginning of the year only spoke Spanish. I worked hard to teach my lessons in both English and Spanish. As the weeks passed by I used Spanish less and less and started pulling those supports away as he learned more and more English vocabulary. It is amazing how fast children learn English in an immersion environment. Now, he speaks in full English sentences and knows math vocabulary words in English just as well as the other kids.
Would you recommend the Blueprint Fellows Program to others? Who would you recommend the program for? Why?
Jamara Knight: Yes, I would definitely recommend the program to others. It is a great path for those who are interested in becoming teachers and want to become more adept at using data to inform lessons for students. It is also a great job for those who like working with kids and want to make a difference.