Teacher Education Program
Michael McCaffrey, TAC, High School English
Mike was born in Kenya to a Peace Corps dad and a safari-guide mom, and lived there for two years before moving briefly to Germany and then to sunny Santa Barbara, CA. He began to see the disparities between the haves and have-nots, thanks to his progressive parents and a great experience at Santa Barbara Middle School. "When I arrived at UC Berkeley and started taking classes in literature, sociology,and psychology, it slowly dawned on me that I had been lucky to have the many opportunities that seemed to fall into my lap. After tutoring in Richmond, CA (one of the worst-performing school districts in the nation) for a year, I realized that kids who aren't from families and circumstances like mine had a hard time making themselves heard in their personal and public lives." He took a student-teaching position in San Francisco, and quickly realized that working with kids - - "who see things in a completely different and continually new light" - - was what he wanted to do.
"I like learning, being challenged, and feeling like I've made a difference at the end of my day. Teaching allows me to do all of those things, and it makes me happy to think that I am helping build better tomorrows with the work I do today. I want to ensure that everyone has at least the opportunity to participate in all of the social, political, and career choices that the world has to offer, and by working in an urban environment I feel like I am putting my efforts where they are needed most. It is partly selfish, but I really do go home at the end of (most) days feeling like I opened some new doors - - if only briefly - - and that is what makes me sure I will be teaching for some time to come."
"Being a fairly progressive Californian (some of the things they say about Berkeley are true), I was terrified of stuffy Harvard-types wearing blue blazers and ties and talking about how much money daddy makes as they sipped their Starbucks double-mocha-chinos. I decided to come anyway, placing faith in the fact that smart people couldn't be all bad. And I was right. The people in the program are down-to-earth, extremely generous, and generally fun to be around. When Manuel broke his collar-bone and Johan broke his arm, we set up 'round-the-clock watches, cooking crews, hospital visits, and a ride home. In addition to our cohort's great sense of community (witness the email listserv with constant party invites), we are also among the most open-minded people that I have seen on this earth so far. No joke."
"I have learned that teaching is very, very difficult, time-consuming, and honest. I say honest because I initially believed I could stand in front of a class and put on some mask and just be some character of me as a teacher, without letting it affect how I felt at the end of the day. Not for the first time, I was wrong. Teaching is about bringing who you are - - where you come from, what your beliefs are, and how you got them - - into the classroom in a way that is beneficial for the students, and doesn't bias them for or against any of your beliefs."