There are several elements during my year of service that have inspired me to keep going when the work became difficult. From the school environment to my students I worked with, and even my amazing school team, they all contributed to the positive experience I have had. One of the biggest contributors, though, is my partner teacher, Mr. Martin.
When I first met Mr. Martin, I didn’t think we would be able to work together as well as we do, let alone at all. His tough exterior made me weary at first, but it all changed once I had my first meeting with him and he told me about his journey becoming a teacher. Like me, it was his first year teaching at Bay View High school, but he was not new to the city or the classroom. He was from Milwaukee and grew up attending Milwaukee Public Schools. He was a veteran. He went to school for criminal justice and worked as a corrections officer. Having seen how troubling the system he worked in was, he wanted to become part of the solution rather than the problem. That is how he became an educator. Having worked in various schools in varying positions, he had a great deal of insight into education
Mr. Martin’s experience and insight have proven quite helpful in my role in the classroom. He has great classroom management and has high expectations for how students should behave in class. He has enforced the non-negotiables—school rules all students need to be following-- since the first day of school and therefore students know that he won’t let misbehavior slide in his classroom. Due to this, the class runs smoother, we don’t spend time redirecting behavior and students have a better environment to learn in without distractions. From the start, I knew what role I had in classroom management since I knew what Mr. Martin expected from the students.
We also have a similar leadership style. He is direct, efficient, and honest when speaking to students, all traits I portray in my interactions with them as well. I appreciate how Mr. Martin doesn’t sugar coat anything and provides real-world examples for the material we are learning in class. Communication has been key to our great relationship as well. This may look like cues we give each other in the classroom, me taking care of classroom tasks or students’ concerns without him asking, and our constant check-ins on how everything is going or what students need more support.
All of what renders the partnership so strong benefits the students as well. Students need consistency and we offer that in how the classroom is managed. They know what to expect with each chapter and even how the class will run from the second they walk in. The communication helps them as well for I will share insights on certain students that he may not have, and vice versa. This helps us to be on the same page about all of the students to better support them. Finally, knowing that Mr. Martin and I work well together and can joke with each other and with the students creates a more inviting and fun class for the students to be in.
I have learned plenty in this year of service, and a great majority of that came from Mr. Martin. He taught me how you can make a difference in the world through education, even if you didn’t see yourself ever becoming a teacher. His support for not only the students we serve, but for me and City Year has been paramount to my successful year of service.
Written by Petar Djordjevic, City Year Milwaukee AmeriCorps member
"I serve with City Year because the various systems- including education- that shape our urban cities have failed students and I want to support them in recieving the education they need to be successful. I serve because I want our students to know that no matter their race, gender identity, sexuality, socioeconomic status, ability, or religion, that they have as equal of an opportunity to get a quaility education as anyone else."- Petar Djordjevic
Are you interested in doing a service year with City Year Milwaukee? Do you know someone who may be interested in helping students reach thier full potential? Visit cityyear.org to learn more about how to apply.