Please Critique, second draft

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
TonyBender
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Oct 12, 2010 10:30 pm

Please Critique, second draft

Postby TonyBender » Sun Oct 17, 2010 3:40 pm

I took the advice from many of you and decided to focus on my teaching experience. Please read and respond on style, content, flow, grammar, etc...

Thank you for taking the time.


I applied to Teach For America with the intention of teaching some valuable lessons to America’s most underserved populations. I didn’t realize at the time of my application, however, that the greatest lessons learned would be those that my students taught me. America’s inner-city classrooms are often characterized by their low performance on standardized tests. What these numbers don’t show, however, is the defiance that students often show towards their teachers, the talking that never ceases or the students’ general disinterest in whatever it is the teacher is trying to accomplish. In such an environment it is easy to dismiss students’ shortcomings as the natural consequence of their bad choices rather than the failure of our society at large. When personal relationships are made with these students, however, it becomes clear that they are no more responsible for the direction that their lives are headed as students from higher socioeconomic backgrounds are responsible for the direction of their lives.

When I walked into my classroom as a teacher for the first time I remember thinking that my students were their own worst enemies. These students were surrounded by well-educated, hard-working teachers with one goal in mind: student achievement. With our best efforts, though, we were unable to get many of these students to conform to an achievement based culture. As the days rolled by I tried in vain to quiet my class to begin instruction or to keep them on task once instruction had begun. Disruptions were frequent; from profanities being screamed across the room to school supplies being thrown, from fights breaking out to arrests being made, it seemed that everyday brought its difficulties. I ended the first quarter feeling what most teachers at my school felt at that time— that these students were headed exactly where they belonged: the long road to nowhere.

It was easy to dismiss their shortcomings and move on, most teachers did. It wasn’t until I began coaching football that I saw my students with a fresh perspective. I was pulling out of the parking lot after a game when Jabari, a player and student in my class, approached my car and asked for a ride. I drove the six miles to his apartment, the six miles that he would have otherwise walked, and found myself in disbelief as I looked at the apartment we pulled into. It was an old, dilapidated motel that was converted into long-term apartments. The walls were nearly coming apart and several windows were broken. The roof was covered with plastic tarps. Jabari later told me that the apartment consisted of a single room and bathroom with no kitchen. It was very little space to share among his three siblings, his mom and his aunt.

As I drove away I couldn’t help but wonder how my life would be different if I grew up in that apartment. I clearly would not have developed my love for cooking, or my understanding of the importance to eat fresh, nutritious food. I would not have had the facilities necessary to exercise and lift weights, which means I would not have been the high school football player that I was. I may not have gone on to play college football, which may have removed my motivation to do well in school and prepare for college. In essence, I definitely would not be where I am today.

Most teachers look at Jabari as he is talking to his friends in class, not listening to his teachers, and think he doesn’t want to make anything of his life. When I see Jabari I see a student that is a result of his environment just as I am a result of mine. It wasn’t until I understood my students with this new perspective that I was able to do them justice in the classroom. I started spending more time in class trying to build relationships with my students. Once my students understood that I was on their side, they no longer viewed me as an outsider trying to push some irrelevant content. Many of them began to listen and flourish in the new classroom culture that was developing. I wasn’t able to reach all of my students, but I connected with more than I thought was possible after that first quarter.

As the end of my two-year commitment with Teach For America approaches, I have been faced with the stark realization that I will not close the achievement gap as a classroom teacher. The problems that face some of America’s communities are far greater than one teacher’s reach in one classroom. I do believe, however, that I can take the lessons I learned in my classroom experience and apply them to the work I do throughout my life, striving for more equitable outcomes in American society. I think that law school is the perfect next step in this pursuit and I believe the experience I gained over the past two years prepared me better than ever to be successful in this next phase of my life.

User avatar
nataliejane38
Posts: 48
Joined: Tue Aug 03, 2010 10:19 pm

Re: Please Critique, second draft

Postby nataliejane38 » Sun Oct 17, 2010 9:35 pm

It's good and I think you have a strong essay overall. However this paragraph

As I drove away I couldn’t help but wonder how my life would be different if I grew up in that apartment. I clearly would not have developed my love for cooking, or my understanding of the importance to eat fresh, nutritious food. I would not have had the facilities necessary to exercise and lift weights, which means I would not have been the high school football player that I was. I may not have gone on to play college football, which may have removed my motivation to do well in school and prepare for college. In essence, I definitely would not be where I am today.


is unneccesary. You don't need to describe your love of cooking, knowing the importance of eating fresh food and lifting weights in order to make the point that if it was not for your privledged upbringing you would not be where you are today. It makes you sound snobby and casts an almost condesending tone on the rest of the essay.




Return to “Law School Personal Statements”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.