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We Got Next

Urban Education and the Next Generation of Black Teachers


Lynnette Mawhinney

Developing a more culturally diverse teaching force is one of the most important tasks facing the education system in the United States. Yet, in the midst of this challenge, little is known about who these teachers might be or where they might come from. We Got Next: Urban Education and the Next Generation of Black Teachers illustrates the journeys that Black pre-service teachers travel in their attempts to become educators. By looking at their educational life histories – their schooling experiences, teaching philosophies, and personal motivation – this book discovers what compels them to become teachers and the struggles and successes they encounter along the way. With texture and care, We Got Next helps professionals, policymakers, and teacher educators to understand what draws young African Americans toward the teaching profession and how to help them get there.
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Chapter 3. Freshman Year: Thinking About Teaching

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Allen took my remedial course in Critical Reading. The first day of class, most of my students were still navigating the transition between high school and college, but Allen was different. He sat in class, always attentive and pensive, but quiet with a chronic serious expression on his face. I quickly found out he was also a Secondary Education, Math major, and that Allen was attending the Education Club meetings on campus.

He had a caramel complexion with cornrows and green eyes. Many of the freshman girls in class would swing their attentions toward Allen, but his ability to hyper-focus on work made him miss all their flirtatious signals. Allen was a man on a mission, determined to succeed in college, as he was the first in his family from Newark, Delaware, to attend college. A month after the interview, Allen wrote a compelling and extremely honest autobiography in class, written in third person, and some of his writing is also shared below.

I come from not a large family, but it was a nice size family, mother and father, two sisters and a brother. I’m the second oldest. I have an older sister ← 13 | 14 → by two years. She’s not attending college yet, she’s planning on attending a technical school in the spring semester. My little sister, she’s 16, and my little brother is 14. My little sister is a freshman in high school, and my little brother is in the seventh grade.

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