Students typically cast teachers into 1 of 2 categories. Students usually describe teachers as, “He or she is so strict and that class is so hard!” or “She is so nice! Her class is so chill and easy!” However, you rarely find a teacher that draws both responses simultaneously. For many Galileo students who have taken regular World History during sophomore year or AP United States History during junior year, Ms.Tang is one of those rare teachers. While she is well known for being a very “hard” teacher, she provides support to her students while building great relationships with them through her relatability.
A major contributing factor to Ms. Tang’s reputation as a “hard” teacher is the coursework that she assigns. Whether it’s the infamous outlines, essays, or tests, they never seem to be left out of any conversation regarding Ms. Tang. Senior Elva X. has strong memories of Ms. Tang’s assignments. She says, “She makes you outline every chapter of the textbook, which means you literally have to read the entire book. Most teachers don’t require students to read the entire textbook.” Other seniors have also expressed their unique perspective. Douglass L. brings up the aspect of how Ms. Tang expects thoughtful and professional work no matter what level the class is. Mable K. mentions how Ms. Tang’s tests are harder than the actual AP U.S. History test. While these students have varying opinions as to why Ms. Tang is considered “hard” they all reached a general consensus that she expects the best each of them have to offer. For many students, this may be overly intimidating, but for others, it’s a push that is welcomed and have proven to be effective in the long run.
Even adults are not immune to her academic approach. During the beginning of her teaching career as a student teacher, she was asked by her master teacher to create a worksheet for his economics class. When the task was completed, the master teacher couldn’t help but ask for an answer sheet for Ms. Tang’s worksheet because even he didn’t know the answers.
Given her tough curriculum, Ms. Tang offers tutoring after school on most school days. What makes Ms. Tang’s tutoring situation unique is because she tutors 2 different classes at the same time. She switches from topic to topic, time period to time period, and place to place based on the class the student is asking questions from.
However, from Ms. Tang’s perspective, her work is eased by her firm belief of allowing students to work together in studying, which enables her to help without being overwhelmed. Besides the common self-studying that is found there, her tutoring sessions also serves as a learning opportunity for both the students and Ms. Tang herself. Both Mable K. and Raymond L. mentioned how her tutoring sessions were very helpful, saying “there were more material taught, which helped refresh my memory of the content.”
Ms. Tang believes her tutoring sessions not only help her students, but her own teaching as well. She says, “Tutoring helps me see material that is missing or if there is a general problem that everyone needs help on.” Ms. Tang’s sacrifice of her own time to tutor both during lunch and after school wasn’t unnoticed by her students. Raymond L. says, “Her dedication motivated me to put in the same amount of effort in learning history despite the subject being boring to me.”
In addition to all of the hard work and dedication Ms. Tang gives as a teacher, perhaps the greatest reason why many students enjoy having her is her relatability. Students tend to be able to speak freely to her without having to hold back. She said, “My first class consisted of students around the age of my cousins, so I was pretty prepared.” Another relatable aspect of Ms. Tang is where she comes from. She says, “A lot of students can relate to my status as a first generation American as well as being the first in my family to attend college. I am Asian American and grew up here in the Bay Area. This has allowed me to share my personal experiences about college and growing up here.”
There were additional reasons for why students think Ms. Tang is very approachable. Mable K. notes, “She drinks coffee like the rest of us, which shows she understands the students’ struggle for sleep. Ms. Tang also knows the high school-college process, which is very helpful.” To simply put it, Raymond L. adds, “Her height makes her look like a student, which makes it easier to talk to her.” A teacher’s greatest strength is his or her relationship to the students. In the case of Ms. Tang, her relationship with her students serves as a strong foundation for her career.