What They Taught Me


By Faizah Wulandana

This year, so many things did not go as planned. 10 months ago, I might have looked at this sentence and thought, Oh no! But today, I write this with a pleasant feeling. This year, I planned on teaching. Instead, I was schooled. Over. And over. And over again.

My students taught me from day one to never underestimate their brilliant capacity. Everyday, they surprise me with how quickly they grasp new ideas and complete their work – or don’t by cleverly avoiding work. They teach me to be patient, that greatness takes time. My students remind me that every child needs a role model. My students teach me that there is no such thing as a good kid or a bad kid; they teach me that it is all in what I choose to do and say. My students remind me to be sensitive of the emotions around me. They teach me to love and to laugh. They remind me to celebrate small victories, and they motivate me to never lose sight of my larger goals. I’ve learned that every student is special, and every child deserves a chance.

My team teaches me to trust. They show me that I can cry, laugh, and scream in a safe space. They teach me that trust goes both ways. They teach me to have open and honest conversations. My team teaches me that a support system catches me when I fall, and also provides a resistance that bounces me back up. They cheer me on as I step outside my comfort zone, and give me the space to trip and fall on my own. They teach me that people will care for me in surprising ways, and that acts of kindness are no burden for people who care. My team teaches me what it feels like to have people in my life who truly matter, and that maintaining my relationships with my teammates might just be the biggest takeaway I get from City Year.

My partner teachers exude with passion for our students. They come back to the classroom everyday in the face of an unsupportive administration and uncooperative behaviors, an act of true perseverance and love. They teach me how to advocate for others, and that to be a teacher in a Title I school means to give and be the voice for our children. They push me to remain consistent, ultimately in the best interest of our students. They remind me to be my best, to self-care, and to ask them for help when I need it. They teach me to do it all with excellence, for the kids.