It’s been a week since our last lesson, and part of me still doesn’t believe that I’m done with FLCP for the year (and more, since I’ll be going abroad next semester). I hope to be able to stay active while I’m studying abroad, but more realistically, would love to go back to teaching West Philly High when I get back. Even though I know not everyone will still be there (Atiya and Marquisha, for instance, will be graduating this year), I’d really like the chance to build on whatever foundation we built this semester and go forward with more difficult concepts that I know that they can handle.
When I started FLCP, I didn’t really think this would be the case at all. In the past, I’ve never had problems letting go of a group of kids that I’ve taught, because I knew that they would be fine, with their constant support from their parents and often affluent background (my past teaching experience was in suburban New Jersey, where I’m from). With these kids, it’s different. At home, if I asked a student to articulate a difficult decision they’ve made, I would probably get an answer about how they wanted to spend their summers–at home, at sleepaway camp, taking tennis lessons, etc. (At Penn, it’s worse; off the top of my head, summer destinations here are more like Santorini, New Zealand, or on a keyboard with the F1 button missing at an investment bank in New York.) We asked a student in a mock interview about a difficult decision, and she told us about how she made the decision, at 15 years old, to leave her dad and become a foster child because she hadn’t been to school in years. As much as we lecture these kids about budgeting and investing their money, I’m still convinced that they teach us way more about life (especially life outside the Penn bubble). This is how and why I’ve come to value the relationships that we’ve developed with our kids over the semester and why I would like to continue with the same group to see them grow.
As much as I appreciate FLCP being over in time to study for finals, it was weird to actually go to my Marketing lecture (which I’ve been partially skipping due to scheduling conflicts) today instead of waiting outside for a rowdy but well-intentioned group of kids on the corner of 38th and Walnut. I wish I could be here to revise their college essays in the Fall and be a resource like the ones that I had when I was applying to college. I want them to know that I learned as much from them as they did from me, if not more.