Shakira Mejia & Iris Torres both participated in a SPI book publishing project as students at the Young Women's Leadership School of East Harlem. The project culminated in the publication of Listen Up, Teachers in 2010.
Tell us about Listen Up, Teachers!
In the ninth grade, we wrote a book about giving advice to teachers on numerous subjects. Whether the teacher had been teaching for 50 years or 5 months, Listen Up, Teachers! encompasses tips on dealing with students that are closeted nerds who act out, but secretly love to learn. In addition, the book was written by students for teachers on how to get students more engaged in their class. It discusses whether or not being a pushover teacher is far more effective than being a strict teacher. Told with truth, wit, and genuine voices, Listen Up, Teachers! gave us the opportunity to help teachers instead of the other way around.
What was your chapter about in Listen Up, Teachers!?
Iris: My chapter was about my 8th grade science teacher, Mr. Habig and how I learned so much from a teacher that scared the life out of me. I mean this guy would give detentions out if you wrote four sentences instead of five. He would lecture us and give us difficult mock state exams for a test grade. If you didn’t pass a test, your grade would plummet and it was difficult to bring your grade back up. I struggled so much to grasp the concept of Living Environment because I didn’t care for science all that much. But, I actually learned and excelled in his class. I was thankful that he was so strict and always enforced the importance of education and science into us because I went on to advanced science classes in High School. It’s better to have a teacher that’s strict and gives you detention for not giving an assignment your full potential, rather than having the cool, passive teacher that passes you just to pass you.
Shakira: Being a part of Listen Up, Teachers! was a great experience. The point of this book was to give a heads up to teachers that were either just starting out, or even teachers that already had a large amount of experience. The book also gave teachers tips on what they could do better in teaching students. In my chapter, I talked about all the different kinds of student one teacher could have in their classroom, from geeks to jocks, and how teachers should go about dealing with them. I did not describe every situation, but I shared a personal experience on how my second grade teacher dealt with a wannabe cool but geeky person, well. She made me notice that my grades are more important than having people like me, but that I should not be all about books and not experience what is out there. Because of her I entered in sports and different clubs. I also figured out that in life there is a balance between fun and studies, which I carried out through school and will take throughout college.
Shakira Mejia & Iris Torres are our June interns from the Young Women's Leadership School of East Harlem, a longtime CPET partner school.