Hi. I am applying for teachers credential and masters in Ed. Here's my personal statement (they allow up to five pages but I feel like I still need to cut stuff out). Your critical insight will be of much help. Thank you!!!
"Know history, know self; no history, no self," a short, skinny, and striking high school boy wearing the colors and the symbols of the Philippine flag exclaimed. Taken aback by what he just stated, I regained my composure and smiled. As I wrote what the young boy said on the chalk board, I looked at the words in amazement because it was the first time I have encountered a phrase that encapsulates so much of how much one's awareness of his or her story affects how an individual perceives his or her identity. I met the boy whose powerful words I now quote and the rest of the inspirational high school students in my junior year in college during the (P.Y.E.D.) at XXXXX. This event holds so much significance in my life because at the end of P.Y.E.D., I became inspired to become a History teacher.
During this significant event, as a group leader, I supported workshops and facilitated discussions. And through the process, I became close with a lot of the high school students. After the weekend full of culturally relevant workshops, empowering activities, and meaningful conversations, I realized the youth's power and potential. I saw that if young adults guided, challenged, and supported the youth, the youth would, in turn, enact change. At the end of the event, all of the high school students expressed their gratitude and their desire to pursue higher education so that "[they] can take control of "their" future and give back to the community." If as a mentor, I had such an impact with these high school students, I thought that if I become a teacher, I could further support and advocate for the youth.
My struggles and successes in high school and my conviction of the potential of the youth inspire and drive me to become a teacher. As a student from an inner city high school, I faced a lot of barriers that discouraged me from succeeding. My counselor once told me that I should just work at "Jack in the Box" since she thought I could not catch up with the course work because I just immigrated from the Philippines. I saw many of my friends drop out and join gangs because the administration essentially discouraged students from succeeding. The perception that students from my high school could not succeed still prevails today. But a growing number of students, supported by teachers and community members, struggle to prove that inner city students are capable of succeeding. Teachers, counselors, and alumni that badgered me to take advantage of opportunities and cheered me on to apply to college still work in my high school. They continue to guide a student's pursuit to become whoever he or she wants to be. As a product of such a tiny yet nurturing environment of concerned educators, despite my hardships as an immigrant in a huge and impersonal public school, I plan to join those who supported me and give back in return as a teacher. By becoming a teacher, I can teach, challenge, and mentor the youth in an environment that should promote success and foster compassion for other people.
My experiences in the classroom and student-run organizations at SOMETHING UNIVERSITY reinforce my drive to teach and advocate for the youth. I began to satisfy my interest to work in a classroom when I jumped at the opportunity to take the Education studies Minor and teach in my sophomore year in college. I worked with Professor XXXXX as a tutor for the Student Retention and Readmission Program at XXXX; a program that serves to help prepare and support at risk and dismissed students' quest to return to SOMETHING UNIVERSITY. I worked closely with a graduate student teaching assistant (T.A.) as I co-created lesson plans and co-facilitated discussions in the classroom. On top of my work inside the classroom, I tutored individuals and groups of students daily, critiqued research papers, and taught students helpful skills to succeed in college. Above all, I learned to adjust my working style to the students' situation because many were non-traditional students: some of them commuted, some had families to provide for, and some were twice my age. So, I made myself available to tutor at night, I provided review sessions on the weekend, and I listened when they needed emotional support. I saw the power of advocacy when I represented the tutoring team in committee meetings comprised of professors, counselors, and the administration that ran the program. I gathered strength to vocalize my opinions in many of the policymaking decisions and changes of the program because since I spent so much time with the students, I understood where the students were coming from. I learned to be a more caring tutor because I saw how much a person's support can breed compassion and inspire success amongst people. Thus, my experiences as a tutor have pushed me to be highly involved in advocacy work: I campaigned for the right to education of AB540 students and I facilitated the leadership development of the students within advocacy organizations so as to empower these students to critically assess and advocate for the needs of historically oppressed communities. My advocacy work and my experiences in the classroom fuels me to continue working with the youth well beyond after I graduated.
I am driven to be a more caring educator and a strong advocate for progressive changes in the educational system now that I am an after school teacher. The challenges that I face in an afterschool program mirrors the trials that teachers encounter in a decaying system where schools have forgotten to prioritize the children. Although I have painstakingly gained the parents' trust and I have utilized bi-lingual students to act as language brokers for their recently immigrated classmates, I recognize that I have a lot to learn and do. As much as I utilize my resourcefulness to adapt in my classroom filled with students of color, students who are linguistically rich and culturally rich, I want to be better prepared to tackle the growing challenges of urban classrooms today. Thus, I want to pursue an M.Ed. Not only do I want to be more cognizant and conscientious of educational inequalities, I desire to tackle these issues headstrong. My goals are to learn how to effectively teach a curriculum that is sensitive to the diverse needs of urban students today and to help foster a culture of encouragement and success. To be able to accomplish these aspirations, I yearn to research about teaching instructions sensitive of the students' background and a curriculum that promotes learning. I seek to learn more about how bi-lingual children and immigrants learn. Finally, I hope to learn more of ways to create a culture of success in urban communities. I want to further my education for the youth and for the community.
I am hoping to join a program that will provide the tools, resources, and the community that will re-enforce the values of a social justice educator. Thus, I am applying to INSERT EDUCATION PROGRAM HERE. I want to learn and work with a community of educators who shares my beliefs and passion, such as INSERT FACULTY NAME HERE who has encouraged me to pursue my dreams. Also, I believe that I can contribute my insight, my leadership skills, my analytical skills, and my interpersonal skills I have honed from my experiences as a student organizer and as an after school teacher. I offer my commitment to push for a more caring and equitable educational system that is dedicated in enriching the lives of the diverse student population of our schools today.
My passion and dream is to teach History because I strongly believe that learning history and being critical of history can empower an individual. When I realized that my personal history intertwines with the larger history, through an interview for my History class, I felt determined to give back to the community. In the interview, my parents explained why they believed they could better provide their children a more promising future if they immigrated abroad. They both expressed their regrets and apologized for their absence for 14 years of my life. Finally, they admitted that they could not return to the Philippines for years because they were fighting for legalization. I learned that my parents sacrifices, their decision to migrate, and the barriers they faced that prevented them from coming home connect so much with the United States past and its present policies. After I learned of my family's immigrant experience, I became determined to support my family and combat social inequities that oppress minorities. I believe I can do so through teaching because I think that if schools challenge the youth to think critically of their own personal histories, the youth will not only understand their roots but will also be inspired to give back to the community that nurtured them.
Throughout my struggles, I have seen how compassion fuels people to pursue a more humane world. I believe that I can spread compassion through teaching. As Freire hoped for "the creation of a world in which it will be easier to love," like Freire, I hope to work for and see a safer world where the youth is given the chance to learn, to show, and to teach the world to be more compassionate.