Introducing Brian Yin, Research Associate

August 5th, 2011

Category: News, Policy and Practice


That was the response one of my students—we’ll call him Jeremiah (not his real name)—gave me on the last day of school when I asked him how his year had been. This one word described one of the most incredible and difficult years of my life.

As an educator, I tend to let my students’ stories speak for me, because those are the stories that really matter. As one of the first Teach for America corps members in Delaware, I taught every grade and subject from kindergarten to high school. I helped train the inaugural Delaware Teaching Fellows cohort. And through these experiences I’ve had the opportunity to hear the voices and opinions of countless parents, educators, and concerned citizens. Yet it is the voices of my students that ring loudest.

Jeremiah came into my class academically behind. When he wasn’t ignoring me, he was violent and aggressive and could single-handedly derail my most engaging lessons. When I called his mom, she said she had almost given up on him—even in preschool he had had to sit in a high-chair the whole day because he wouldn’t stop hitting the other children with blocks. His mom didn’t know what to do—they’d been through two schools in two years; this was his third.

So this simple response of his, “good,” spoke volumes. He liked school now. He had strategies to cope with his anger, and was able to socialize positively, channeling his energy into sports and other activities. The most exciting thing was his academics. He came into my class a year behind in math. He left on-level and ready for 3rd grade. In reading, he started barely at a kindergartner’s level.  He left reading as an advanced 2nd grader.

I share this story not because I claim to have the answers to the hard questions we face as educators, but rather to explain why I’m excited to join Rodel. Our students deserve the best education possible, as soon as possible, and Rodel has clearly and passionately dedicated itself to this cause.

Whether you agree with my opinions or not, I hope to bring another voice that can speak with the perspective of a teacher and of students like Jeremiah. I am eager to engage in a dialogue and share and hear opinions because I know we are all working towards this same goal.

In my classroom I instituted a “No-Excuses” classroom culture—I knew that every student in my class was capable of high achievement, and I refused to make or accept excuses for them not to achieve. I won’t accept excuses now either. Delaware was the first state in the union and the first state to win Race to the Top. It has the resources and the will. There’s no excuse for us not to be the first state in education as well. Our students are depending on us. Let’s come together and figure out how we can get it done.

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Brian Yin



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