Years in Education: 16-20
Former High School History Teacher
District Technology Facilitator
Q: What do you have in common with your students?
A: I grew up in Union City, New Jersey where I have worked in schools for the last 16 years. I started as a classroom history teacher and eventually became a tech facilitator for the District. Union City is a predominantly Latino community.
There are many things I share with my students like food, language, folk lore, idioms and so on, due to the fact that I'm Latino myself and also grew up in this same community.
Being that Union City is an urban community, we also share some common evils. When I was a student, I also experienced poverty, drugs, gangs and other negative things. I still clearly remember walking to and from school and seeing these evils in the streets and corners.
I can relate to students' peer pressures, family pressures, dealing with poverty, and dreaming of one day getting out. I can sit with troubled kids and talk about some of the things they see on their end. This really opens up my relationships with my students because I'm not seen as an outsider or another un-relateable adult.
I can also relate to their hopes, dreams, motivation and needs. I can plant seeds of bigger dreams, bigger aspirations, and life outside of Union City. I always talk about the benefits of living in our community as well. I try to show them that they have the opportunity of an academic education, but they also a street smarts that they learned from hard knock lessons.
Q: Does it matter that students and teachers have things in common?
A: Having common ground allows for teacher and students to jump into getting down to work quicker. No need for a long transition phase or a “getting to know” sessions. Being from the same community allows me to come to class with an understanding of what our students experience and see every day. This allows for a more pleasant work flow and space. Walls are instantly tore down when teacher and students share common things.
Marcos is a 2017 TED-Ed Innovative Educator. He is a leader in the makerspace movement. To learn more about what Marcos is doing to facilitate hands-on student creativity and leadership, follow him on Twitter @mrnavas.