TQ Sherman: Career Changer

by Sarah Brock on Apr 12, 2015

TQ Sherman, Graduate Teaching Fellow (KIPP Liberation)

TQ is a first-year Fellow in our Graduate Teaching Fellowship, which is a two-year program designed to train new teachers by pairing them with a master teacher and gradually increasing their teaching responsibilities.

In year two of the program, Fellows become lead teachers for KIPP Houston while completing their master’s degree and Texas teacher’s certification. To learn more about the Graduate Teaching Fellowship and to apply for our final deadline (April 30th), click here.

1. What drew you to teaching?

I’m a career changer and had been in corporate America since I graduated college. I volunteered at a school and got hired as a tutor and saw there was a need for well-qualified people who not only understood the material but had a passion for making a difference in children’s lives…especially as an African-American teacher, there just weren’t enough black teachers. When I talked to my students, they expressed there weren’t a lot of people in the classroom that looked like them that they could look up to like role models. As a young child, I grew up in a school where no one looked like me, and I remembered what that felt like. I became a teacher because I really felt the need to give back.

2. What’s your favorite moment each day? 

My favorite moment is in the morning when I’m standing in the threshold of the door at KIPP Liberation College Preparatory and greeting my students. Every day is fresh and new, and no matter what day they had the day before, it’s a fresh day. I can give them a pep talk if needed, give out hugs, greet them, and see them smile. It’s a great feeling to have that type of relationship with my kids.

3. What are the benefits and challenges of being in the Graduate Teaching Fellowship?

The benefits are really being able to learn from an experienced teacher. My advisor and I have really become friends. We work so closely every day and we plan together. Also, in the Relay Graduate School of Education, they teach you the best techniques. They teach you how to check and make sure your kids are learning, and they also teach you about different misunderstandings. Those things are very valuable and in talking to my friends who have been educators for years, they didn’t get that in their programs.

As far as challenges, a challenge I came across was since I’m not the primary teacher, I’d have to get more buy-in from the students. From that perspective, it was important for me to build relationships. Another challenge is the work-life balance. You’re in school (at Relay) part-time, and it’s important to make sure your assignments are done on time. I don’t know if I’ve truly found that balance yet, but it’s about saying, “I need to be a student right now.”

4. Describe the relationship with your fellow advisor.

It was almost as if you have an old friend and you had never met them but became friends instantly. Ms. Humphrey and myself, I can’t say we have the exact same beliefs because we’re different people, but we have the same expectations for our students. We have open communication and if there is something I don’t understand, I’ll talk to her about it and she’s very receptive. We’re together eight hours every day, and it helps if you like the person you work with every day.

5. What are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of really being able to not only step into a new role but, as a career changer, leave something I was good at for something I don’t know if I’ll ever be good at. I feel like a lot of people become comfortable in what they do and there is nothing wrong in that, but when you take a chance, there is a lot of growth that comes along with that.