Spotlight
"I believe that CalTeach went above and beyond in preparing me."
Allison Mok
Allison Mok, Educator
CalTeach Alumna

I am a teacher, therapist, counselor, nurse, caretaker, tutor, and friend - all in one. I work at a school in which if I am having rough day, I can go any colleague’s room and have a good cry because I know they will support me. I work at a school that is fairly new and lacks many systems in place. I work at a school where my principal encourages his teachers to take “mental health days” because he knows we are burning out. I work in education.

I earned my Single Subject Teaching Credential and Mathematics degree from UC Irvine in 2013. Since then, I have moved to Berkeley, California, to teach at REALM Charter School. Our middle school is designed to be a project-based, technology-rich learning environment. Over 75% of our students are on free and reduced lunch and the majority of our students come from Oakland and Richmond.

During my first year of teaching, I realized what a huge disparity there was amongst my students. Since the school only had 24 semi-working, old MacBooks for the entire middle school, I decided to do something about it. I started an Indiegogo campaign (A-quality-education-should-be-attainable-for-all) to raise $6,750 for a classroom set of Chromebooks. In about two months, we raised $7,175. I know this was highly unusual for a first year teacher.

During my second year of teaching, I was fortunate to get connected to Stanford’s S.C.A.L.E. (Stanford Center for Assessment Learning and Equity) team. I was asked to be a design teacher on their PBL/PBA (project based learning/performance based assessment) curriculum. Despite my own doubts as a second year teacher, I accepted.

Since then, we have been co-designing a PBL/PBA curriculum that is thoughtful and engaging, and gives kids a sense of advocating for themselves. It takes a lot of time, hard work, and planning but my students are realizing that math IS connected to the real world, and that is what I consider a job well done.

In April, I was invited to come with SCALE to present at AERA (American Education Research Association) in Chicago. Our presentation title was “What fosters true partnerships between university researchers and teacher educators?” I had an amazing experience attending different sessions, giving our presentation, and meeting amazing people. I remember commenting at the end of our presentation,

If anything, look at us now. We are here as teachers co-presenting with our SCALE researchers. This is a true sign of university researchers and teacher educators collaborating together. Yet, even though we are at an educational conference, where are the teachers? And where are the students?

Teaching has definitely been an eye opening experience. Even though my credentialing program is over, I know that I have everlasting support from my CalTeach mentors (Kris Houston and Terry Shanahan). I believe that CalTeach went above and beyond in preparing me to become a teacher that thinks critically and strongly advocates for my students. Because of CalTeach, I have been able to survive and thrive during my first two years in the classroom. Because teaching is by no means, “easy,” I am eternally grateful for the four years of training that CalTeach gave me.