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  Workshop 5: Patriotism & Foreign Policy  
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Workshop 5

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Teacher Perspectives: Her background

Alice Chandler: I came through during the time of Martin Luther King, the riots, Robert Kennedy’s assassination. It made me more socially aware as well as a much better person. I also have to say that Constance Mitchell, who is still teaching at one of the area high schools, was a great government teacher of mine. She was the one who used the Socratic method of teaching. I do not remember using the textbook that much. She really involved us. Subconsciously, it was that teacher in my senior year of high school that prepared me. I really didn’t know what a gift she was giving me at that time.

My development as a teacher started when I needed a job while I was in graduate school in American history at Howard University. I was in American history, so I did not have a foundation in education at all. In fact, I had to do two years of probationary work. I happened to have had two courses in geography and they needed a certified teacher in geography. It was really a fluke, but my mother always said that she thought that I would make a good teacher. After awhile I said, "This isn't too bad."

I've now developed into more of a teacher than an academician. In recent years, I've gone to the University of the District of Columbia and received a master's degree in special education, and that really opened me up to understanding students as individuals, as well as students that have special gifts and special skills. I realized I could apply that to my students. It's also meant taking risks, looking for the good in each student, and really being patient with myself, because I didn't see myself as a natural teacher, other people did. In fact, I left it for three years when my mother was ill. I did corporate work during those years.

Also, I’ve been a professional writer. I have been a vocalist—not a professional vocalist, but I have been in choirs. I did take dance from age two to 12 in a church basement, but at least I had the exposure. I love the arts. And I said, “What can I do that’s a little different?” One of my friends said, “There’s an opening at Ellington.” Ironically, I was hired because I had computer skills. They wanted me to work with museum studies but I went in as a regular social studies teacher.


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