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Career Partner Spotlight: Langdon Morris and Boston Teacher Residency

Langdon Morris '10 & '11 • Boston Teacher Residency 2011-2012

Langdon"City Year helped me fall in love with urban education.”

 When and where did you serve as a City Year corps member?

I served in '10 and '11 as a corps member and team leader at Neighborhood House Charter School in Dorchester, MA.

What brought you to City Year?

I actually saw a television commercial for City Year featuring a friend from college. I called him up and asked him about City Year and he had good things to say. I knew I wanted to teach, but there was a hiring freeze in the district where I did my student teaching in North Carolina. City Year seemed like a great way to keep my foot in education and explore a new city.

How did you decide you wanted to teach?

I knew that I wanted to teach since I was in the 11th grade. I loved English because I felt like my teachers were relating literature to my life, and talking about issues that went beyond our classroom. City Year helped me fall in love with urban education. I loved my students at NHCS, the school culture, and the relationships I built within City Year, and that has kept me teaching in Boston since.

When did you complete your residency year of service with BTR, and at which school? Where do you currently teach?

I served with BTR from 2011-2012 at the Timilty Middle School in Roxbury, MA and now teach 7th grade ELA Inclusion at the Harbor School in Dorchester, MA.

What brought you to BTR?

BTR gave a presentation at one of our Friday trainings and it seemed like a good fit for my future. I knew that I wanted to keep teaching, and it made sense to get my Master’s Degree, essentially for free, in a district that highly favors teachers furthering themselves academically.

What made you choose BTR over other teaching programs?

I knew that Boston Teacher Residency had a good reputation and that many BTR teachers were hired and valued in the district. I knew that BTR would challenge me as a person, much as City Year had, but also would challenge me academically and get me ready for the challenges of Boston classrooms. Also, I was familiar with the Education Award, stipend, and all that comes with being an AmeriCorps member. I was used to living within the means of an AmeriCorps member, and I knew that I could also receive financial aid to help me out.

How did City Year prepare you for BTR?

There are many things that I did as a corps member that I still do in my classroom today. I run reading groups in my classroom using the same strategies I learned in City Year. City Year was my first exposure to students with academic and social/emotional disabilities in the urban setting, and those experiences taught me to manage behaviors that may hurt the learning environment. City Year began to teach me how to balance building relationships and relating to students while maintaining a culture of respect.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a BTR resident/teacher?

No question: behavior management. Learning to build a culture of respect towards adults and peers in the classroom can be difficult. It takes patience, consistency, humor, and relationships to pull it off. I think that an inability to manage behaviors is likely what drives most teachers out of the profession within the first few years. Students want a safe and structured environment, but some students want to see if you’re going to protect that environment or not, or may act in opposition in order to gain attention or avoid failure. I haven’t met a student that does not want to be successful, but they can’t learn if they are in a chaotic environment.

What advice do you have for corps members who want to teach?

1. One veteran teacher and coach told me: "Talk to every kid, every day.” I think the nature of this is that relationships go a long way. City Year corps members tend to be great at building relationships. I think students can sniff out whether or not you are genuine. If you really care, they will know. It matters to them that you love them, whether they let you know or not.

2. You can’t let up on your expectations. If it means stopping and practicing the right way every time expectations aren’t met, then it’s worth it. If it means calls home every night, then it’s worth it. If you are consistent and students know this, they will act accordingly. Our students are amazing and capable, they just need clear expectations set, so that they can meet them.


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