From Associate Teachers to Co-Teachers

Brooke Newsletter

Brooke Roslindale sixth grade teachers Tahirah Gibson and Desiree Harvey started at Brooke as part of the Associate Teacher Program 2016. They went through the year-long residency that prepared them with the skills and knowledge to become lead classroom teachers.

Now they are co-teachers and we had the opportunity to hear about their trajectory and how their relationship has supported their growth and development. 

What are you most proud of since you started at Brooke?

Tahirah: I am proud of us for voicing our opinions for the rituals and practices group, which Desiree and I started in 2020 to showcase and honor our students’ backgrounds and identities in Brooke’s classroom content, cultural celebrations, and school values. 

Desiree: I agree. We used our voices to create change at the school. Many ideas came out of this ritual and practice group, such as: identity block, cultural events, and more ways to celebrate our students.

Why did you choose to apply to the Associate Teacher Program at Brooke?

Desiree: I knew I wanted to go into teaching, but I didn’t feel that I was ready to teach right away, so I was looking for something that would allow me to grow. Brooke was one of the only Associate Teacher Programs whose’ pay was competitive!

Tahirah: I had children at the time and was looking for a role that is stable. I decided to go into teaching through the Associate Teacher Program, which allowed me to ease into the field. 

What was the most valuable lesson you learned from the Associate Teacher Program?

Tahirah: I learned how every classroom can vary and to be flexible enough to adjust to those different environments and needs. 

Desiree: The Associate Teacher Program taught me that it is important to stay focused on your end goal, which is our kids. 

Looking back on your experience at Brooke, what about having each other made it easier? 

Tahirah: While Desiree and I were on the fifth grade team, we had to do a lot of planning. Desiree had to rewrite the math curriculum, and I was rewriting the reading curriculum. We leaned on each other during that time and I appreciated that. 

Desiree: Yes! Also, even when we taught separate grade levels, we used each other as a support system to help each other get through the year and decompress.

How would you describe your current classroom culture?

Tahirah: We love for the kids to have fun and we also know how to bounce back into getting our work done. Desiree and I have the same teaching dynamic, which is great for our kids to see both of us in the same light. They can respect that we can let loose, while still holding high expectations for them academically. 

How would you describe your classroom achievements?

Desiree: We challenge them all year-long, there is not an easy day in our classroom. When it comes down to it and it’s time for our students to show up and show what they know, they always excel. 

Tahirah: Agreed. As for myself, I am always clear about what they need to get done in a set amount of time. So when they do have a timed session or test, they are breezing through it!

What do you appreciate about each other?

Desiree: I admire Tahirah’s relationship building with kids and how she takes the time to be authentically herself with them. It’s always fun to see the kids connect with Tahirah personally. 

Tahirah: Desiree takes initiative on a lot of things that I am not always thinking about. I feel like the classroom wouldn’t be running so smoothly if she wasn’t the one that was doing the behind the scenes work to create a fun classroom environment. 

What advice do you have for those thinking of applying to the Associate Teacher Program?

Desiree: You should come in with an open mind, ready to learn a lot, and to give yourself grace when you feel like you failed. There are great and not so great moments. 

Tahirah: My advice would be to come in as your authentic and genuine self. This is how you will be able to find your best teacher presence.