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CAN BE A LONELY BUSINESS. "Sometimes you're in there
all day with 140 or 160 kids and you're wondering, does anybody
care about me, is anybody thinking about me?" says Doug Waybright,
principal at Carson High School.
TEP provides new teachers with a support system that helps them
overcome that sense of isolation, hone their craft and develop coping
mechanisms to deal with daily struggles. Second-year students, who
teach in one of four Los Angeles-area school districts, work under
the guidance of field supervisors and faculty advisers — all
former teachers who themselves have gone through the same struggles.
"Once a week, someone would come in and check on me and see
if I needed anything," says David Swanson '00, M.Ed. '03, now
in his second year of teaching math at Fremont High School in South-Central
Los Angeles. "You could just talk about a student being horrible
or acting up, or curriculum ideas, like, 'I really need to teach
this lesson but I don't know how to do it.' It was a real comfort
for me to know that if I needed them, they were there."
Building strong relationships with fellow faculty members is equally
important. When Nancy Florez-Muro decided to go back to work after
her second child started school, she enrolled in UCLA Extension's
program leading to a multiple-subject teaching credential. Florez-Muro
started teaching immediately with an intern credential at Lake Center
Middle School in Santa Fe Springs. Nights and weekends, she attended
classes at Extension, which offers as many as 1,000 courses annually
to keep teachers updated on materials and new teaching methodologies.
There, she forged bonds with classmates who were traveling the same
bumpy road as she was, learning to teach math to rambunctious middle
"Everybody didn't always have an answer, but we helped each
other figure a way through," Florez-Muro says. "If you
stay in your own classroom and you don't network, you could end
up thinking, 'I am not worth anything.' It's that collegial support
that really gets you through," she says.