Last week, New Classrooms held its third annual Geek Out, a gathering of supporters and advocates for personalized learning. The evening event included a dynamic lineup of speakers, and we’re excited to share some of the highlights. Today’s post features remarks from a fifth-grade student in New Jersey who is sharing her story of perseverance while finishing up her first year of Teach to One: Math.
Good evening, everyone. My name is Aylinn and it’s wonderful to see all of you.
My family came from Mexico to the United States when they were young. My mom arrived with my grandpa and grandma when she was 21 years old. My uncle and mom started working to earn money to buy plane tickets for my grandma to go back and bring over my other uncles and aunts. She faced a really hard childhood.
My dad, on the other hand, also came from Mexico when he was in his early twenties to earn some money because when he was about 10 years old when his dad died. Without any other money in the family, he and my uncle started working to take care of their six siblings.
My parents met in a factory in Passaic and then they dated for five years before getting married and then having my sister Belen. I was born six years after her. Now, 16 years later, my mom works as a lunch lady in a charter school and my dad works in construction. My parents worked hard and bought our house and my sister goes to Passaic County Technical Institute. I am proud to say that I am related to them because they are so amazing. They faced all those difficulties when they were small and still got past it and started a family.
Currently I am a fifth-grade student at Passaic Gifted and Talented Academy. In my opinion, we are by far the smartest children in the district. I started using Teach to One (we call it TTO) this school year and at first I felt a little weird because I was used to my teacher writing on the Smartboard and me taking notes and solving problems in my notebook. My cousins had been using TTO and told me I had to work with different teachers and on my computer. I was really excited, but a little nervous because it was SO different.
But it ended up being super helpful...and I felt great. What’s been different (but fun) about TTO from my previous experiences in math class is that now I can learn at my own pace and not have to wait for my classmates. For me, that means that I can have more advanced math. Before we had TTO we had to wait for our classmates to understand the skill for us to move on, but now it is different and I like that new freedom.
One of my dreams when I grow up is to become a lawyer and help people who are innocent. TTO helps me become a lawyer because everyone studying in college and law school needs a good understanding of complex math. TTO also helps me because it teaches me problem-solving. When you are a lawyer you are going to need to problem-solve and come to an agreement either with the judge or the other person—depending on the case. My experience with TTO math also influenced me to persevere because even if I get a “Room for Growth” on the exit slip, the next day I work on the same skill until I get it right. I have to keep pushing and TTO helps make sure I succeed.
I would like to thank you for allowing me to speak tonight at Geek Out. I have enjoyed being here. I am honored to represent all the TTO students. Thank you and goodnight.