September 6, 2016

Teachers Talk Back: Nandini Dev

Nandini Dev is in her 13th year of teaching and is currently working at Bell Senior High School. In this conversation, Nandini shares what drew her to the classroom and why she decided to join E4E.

Why did you become a teacher?

I actually fell into teaching right after college by accident. I was a literature and creative writing double major at the University of California, San Diego, and I wanted to be a journalist for Rolling Stone magazine, but teaching is pretty awesome. It wasn't supposed to be a permanent thing, but I saw the tangible difference that I was making in my students’ lives.

What is one piece of advice you would give other teachers?

The most important piece of advice that I would give other teachers is to stay positive. Even if your entire day has been tough, and only one good thing has happened, concentrate on that particular positive event. Everyone has their struggles – some people are just more verbal about it than others. Celebrate your uniqueness, and don't compare yourself to anyone else. Don't care about what anyone else says or thinks, except for your students. You really are helping them. Sometimes they contact you several years later and tell you what a difference you made in their lives. Also, try to find at least one teacher friend that you trust so you don't hold things in.

What resources do you find most useful in the classroom?

I was always very resistant to technology. It really intimidated me until this year, when I realized that it would add many new and fun dimensions of excitement to my lessons. Facebook, Instagram and other forms of social media are also excellent.

What is your favorite lesson to teach? Why?

My students and I recently finished competing in the Los Angeles Classic Slam, which is a very unique slam poetry competition where students across Los Angeles County memorize and perform classic poems and write and perform a response to those poems as well. It's my favorite lesson to teach because so many serious topics come up, whether in class or at the actual slam itself, and the students handle them in very beautiful ways. Slam poetry is unique from other forms of poetry because of what it is able to do – is not just a form of expression. It has the ability to create a family amongst strangers.

How do other teachers get involved in the Los Angeles Classic Slam?

The "Get Lit" organization in West LA serves all of LA County. It costs $1,000 to join, but for that cost, you a "Get Lit Blitz" assembly at your school, two visits from poets and the ability compete in the slam. It really is an investment. Some students like doing slam, and some may be more unfamiliar or uncomfortable. The wonderful thing is that you perform one classic piece, and that helps you generate ideas for your own original composition as well as get practice.

What made you decide to join E4E?

I am always interested in joining communities of like-minded individuals. I decided to become involved because teacher voice was absent from the implementation of policies across the board. I also had a desire to understand my contract, which is why I want to attend the Why Unions Matter training. This year, I would like to learn more about and become more involved in education policy from formulation to implementation.