Teaching Students, Learning a Lot
Mackenzie Doherty ’18 is spending this summer as an intern for Generation Teach Summer Academy, a two-week training on classroom control and pre-service teacher responsibilities and duties followed by a four-week program solo-teaching three to four class periods a day of middle school students. The school serves Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan and surrounding areas in Boston.
More specifically, Doherty is a sixth grade fellow who teaches both social studies and poetry and has a core group of student advisees with whom she spends most of the day. Her internship is supported by The Christie Bell Vilsack K'72 Internship Award, managed by the Career Center.
“I want to teach and have mostly thought about teaching at the high school or college level,” explained Doherty. “However, I saw the job posting for middle school and thought it would be a challenging and telling way to introduce myself to the field.”
With this internship, she hopes “to learn how to be someone who is adaptable and reacts to the situation rather than someone who remains rigid, frustrated or set in my ways.” She believes this middle school teaching experience is the perfect opportunity to practice this.
For Doherty, the most rewarding aspect of her work this summer is the variety of identities found in her classes. To give a few examples, “I have one class with two boys who love to rap in between answering questions, a girl who can’t stop drawing pictures of me instead of answering the questions and another girl who tells me she wants to be a surgeon and that everyone else should quiet down while she’s working.”
Even while fulfilling the role of the teacher, Doherty is learning a lot, too. “I’ve learned a million things. The most important one so far is that kids who present as ‘difficult’ aren’t bad kids, and that the label of being a bad kid can be more destructive than the actual behavior itself,” she commented. “It’s dorky and cliché, but you really just need to overwhelm them with engagement and love until they have no choice but to be themselves (kind kids who want to learn).”
These lessons will prove useful beyond this internship and after graduating Hamilton, as Doherty stated, “My mind is always changing and I keep finding new interests, but wanting to be a teacher has been almost the only constant goal of mine over the past few years.”