School: Raul Quintanilla Middle School
Preparedness for success in a collegiate atmosphere is more than the ability to pass tests and regurgitate simple fact-based knowledge. It is the ability to think critically about complex problems and recognize a higher level of ignorance, in which one has more questions than answers. While none of my students are solving nuclear physics equations, they are learning how to ask questions of the world they live in, which I believe to be the most important skill needed to succeed moving forward. In my classroom, we have built a culture of pushing back on ideas in order to gain a deeper understanding of the subjects and topics that we cover. Building this skill in a young adolescents mind is invaluable, as it will create a stronger desire to learn and persistence towards growth. As a middle school teacher, I consider myself one of the last lines of defense for my students because the achievement gap grows significantly in the middle school years. If I do not prepare my students to be critical thinkers at this stage of their education, they will be playing catch up for the rest of their lives. Ensuring that my students become evaluators instead of memorizers will strengthen their ability to be prepared and successful for the challenges of collegiate life.