WASHINGTON, PA (Aug. 10, 2020)—When Adia Muhammad ’22 sought out a summer teaching opportunity, she didn’t picture it going down exactly like this.
Earlier in the year, the English and international studies major used her Handshake account through Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) to browse potential summer opportunities and came across Generation Teach, a summer teaching fellowship program for undergraduates that partners with local communities to build diverse pipelines of exemplary educators who reflect the students and communities the program serves.
Adia was set to start an in-person fellowship in Providence, RI, before COVID-19 forced Generation Teach to go online, and Adia became a teaching fellow with the organization’s first virtual academy, allowing her to educate students from around the country.
“My internship experience has been fantastic, mostly due to the amount of support throughout,” Adia said. “With 2 weeks of teacher training and 6 weeks of service, I was responsible for teaching two 50-minute periods of reading every day, two periods of tech-support for my co-teacher’s classes, conducting one-on-one check-ins with each student, lesson planning, and conducting advisory games and challenges. They made me work for that paycheck, but I love it.”
The curriculum Adia taught was built around a text chosen by the organization: Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds’ Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You. While the source material was selected by Generation Teach, the lessons were entirely of her own design.
Through the switch to online learning, Adia faced and overcame challenges that helped her understand the profession as she practiced Generation Teach’s mission to “try teaching.”
“It was difficult to have to adapt different games and activities for a virtual scape. Something as easy as ‘turn and tell your neighbor’ isn’t possible, so you adapt,” she said. “One thing I did like about it was our ability to create our own kind of online community. I worried about being an outsider when I got the Providence position: virtually, we were all outsiders, making us all really interesting insiders we could learn new things from.”
During her time at W&J, Adia has volunteered as a K-12 English tutor at the LeMoyne Center and served as a LINK Mentor, both experiences she credits to helping her prepare for her role as a teaching fellow with Generation Teach. Through it all, Adia has come to learn more about her students’ resilience and it has encouraged her to pursue teaching further. She’s interested in teaching abroad after her graduation and also has begun correspondence with teaching programs in Denver after participating in Generation Teach’s Teach Local Night at the end of her summer fellowship.
About Washington & Jefferson College
Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work. For more information about W&J, visit www.washjeff.edu, or call 888-W-AND-JAY.