How is it that on the third day of school I am already behind?
My boards are empty but my to be graded pile is full. My materials for tomorrow is copied, thank god, but I can’t reach my construction paper for the leaning tower of junk guarding the closets. I am already three days behind on spot checking homework but the parents have already asked me if their children are turning them in.
I need a day in between each day of teaching in order to keep up.
I came from a peasant culture, where we talk very loudly. It is not considered cultured or even polite in American culture, but it is expected of peasants who work in large fields for generations.
I came to America as a refugee when I was four years old. I was a happy child, active, bright, highly successful academically very quickly.
One day, during a bus ride on a field trip, my teacher turned to me and said, “____, you’re too loud! Be quiet.”
From then on, I was called “thoughtful” and “shy”.
I pretty much stopped talking at school and at home. I continued to be highly successful, but…
I will always remember that moment whenever I open my mouth to criticize or correct a child. I can never know if today is the day that I say some thoughtless, meaningless words that will shut down a child for years or forever.
The nice thing about being a teacher is that you find little gifts on your desk all the time. Here’s another drawing by a different student. She spent quite a lot of time on it! I removed her name from the image.
I hear complaints like these from teachers all the time at my school:
- These kids don’t want to learn!
- These kids just aren’t motivated to learn!
- These kids just can’t learn!
They’re also the ones who complain that the mandated curriculum is uninteresting, so the kids are bored and restless. They’re also the ones who complain that the home environment is impossible to work with and the kids’ parents are at fault for the students’ failures at school. The teachers who make complaints like these are also the ones who are offended when you imply that it’s the teacher’s job to motivate students.
Watch these teachers with their students and you get the feeling that the students run the class. You’re probably correct too.
Teachers who deny responsibility for students’ motivation to learn abdicate control of the classroom and it shows.
I work very hard with my students on many level, all to assure their academic success in my classroom. Many of my fellow teachers at my school feel that I work far too hard and needlessly because these kids are hopeless cases. Then, these same teachers deny my hard work when I’ve met with successes, claiming that I had an “easy” class. Makes my eyes twitch, I swear! I’m sure many of you have met teachers (and people!) like these.
To assure my students’ success, I first build relationships with them. Inner city kids have much to deal with. They do need a reason to come to school everyday and if that reason is to spend time with someone they enjoy spending time with, then so be it! I plan my lessons to tap into my students’ strengths and interests. Even if the curriculum is boring, I try to find ways to make it interesting. I tell them the purpose of the lessons, the steps along the way, and the final results. Students who know why they have to do something is more willing than the student who sits there and wonder why they have to learn this boring lesson.
These are the basics of teaching in the inner city. There are more strategies of course. And really, these are simply the basis of “good teaching”.
The result of all this hard work is that my classroom runs smoother. I don’t have to deal with student behavior problems all the time. And of course, my students learn.
Contrast that with a classroom full of unruly kids and an exhausted teacher who is always yelling. Why would anyone choose to teach in THAT classroom? I accept responsibility for every aspect of my classroom and students’ learning, and in so doing, I gain control of my classroom.
I’ve been waiting a month for my new custom built PC to arrive. For the past two years, my seven years old computer kathunk*kathunked its way through all the programs that I need to use on a daily basis. Then, I discovered a cheap version of Publisher which allows me to create really cool worksheets, newsletters, vibrant articles, just interesting reading/writing materials. Unfortunately, my old computer crashed if I used more than one photo in the program.
So, this year, I determined to upgrade my computer. Now, in conjunction with my digital camera and color printer, I am prepared to create all sorts of interesting stuff for my students!
First thing I’m going to do is revamp my daily reading/writing homework. You guys get to see it and use it if it turns out well!
I’ve been ill since Friday. What a way to start my vacation!
While ill and feverish, I had this amazing dream.
All of my students have an internet connected laptop. I have a laptop as well connected to a projector. Together, we are beginning a new unit and exploring the internet for ideas, questions, pictures, concepts relating to the new unit. We then use clipmark to clip important ideas to our blogs to share with each other and comment on each other’s findings. Throughout the unit, we would add our learning to our blog, clipmark each other’s works, leave comments. What a real world use of technology in the classroom that would build content knowledge, language art skills, writing with a purpose, just WoW!
It’s an unattainable dream it feels like, but not so farfetched. I shall start by asking Donorschoose.org for a laptop and a projector for myself. Then, I shall start asking for one laptop at a time for my students. It’ll take time, but eventually, I will build a class set!
This is a present I received on my desk this morning from my amazing student, Auburn (not her real name, I’m not using any real names, protection of course). She’s always quiet in the class, but she becomes an amazing personality out of the classroom setting. In the class, she’s a workaholic!
So, Happy Easter everyone! Underneath the picture, she wrote, “A present for Ms. A, for Joe, and for everyone.” So there you are, a gift from the mind of an incredible child. 🙂