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Tag Archives: inner-city teaching

34 – Ms. Friendly’s Back…and Hey, Why Don’t You Work Here Anymore?!

No!  Don’t panic!  I didn’t ask for my old job back, but it did ask for me…(kind of)…

 

This week, my school system had two days off in the name of “Teachers-please-don’t- murder- your –students-Day”…okay…so maybe it’s not REALLY called  “Teachers-please-don’t- murder- your –students-Day”…maybe more like Fall Break.  But, whatever, it’s all the same to me!  Anywho, I had some business to attend to and that business happened to include my Fearless Leader from Ye Olde Ghetto Asylum in the inner-city.  Meaning…I would have to return to my old stomping grounds.  Whew!  My stomach was grumbling like two cats and a hyena stuck in a bag.

 

Two of my former students spotted me in the hallway, before I could even make it to the front office.  They both started giggling uncontrollably.  I gave them a hug and inquired as to what was so funny.  They shook their heads vigorously and were not able to produce a coherent response.  I made it to the office and Fearless Leader was not there; he was somewhere else in the building (apparently he leaves his office during work and walks about the school now…who knew?).  I sat in the office while I waited for him, and the word spread like wildfire…Ms. Friendly’s back!  Students were flooding the office to see me.  They came bearing hugs, smiles, and questions such as “Why did you leave us?  Are you coming back?  Where’s saneandsingle?”  I answered their questions and sent them on their way.  I was beginning to get a warm feeling inside after the welcome I received from my former students…after conducting my business with my former Fearless Leader, I decided to take the “long way out of the school.”  I ran into more students, and the reception from them was identical to the prior reactions of their peers.  “Why did you leave us?  Are you coming back?  Where’s saneandsingle?”  Then…more hugging…more squealing (OMG!  Ms. Friendly!)…more hugging.  It was like a family reunion.

 

I was nonplussed! 

 

Me: But you did everything humanly possible to place me in an insane asylum!  You barely listened to me when I was here.

 

Them: But the teachers here are boring.   Please come back!  Why did you leave?

 

Me: I don’t know…we’ll see…(Read: Fat chance!  Not as long as that man is the principal!)

 

Needless to say, I left feeling full of love and appreciation.  I think about those kids often…they have so much personality.  I wish I had a more experienced “leader” because the students suffered from the lack of administrative discipline and the eventual loss of two extremely talented teachers.  I can honestly say that I miss them because I know that they need me…however, I have teaching long enough to know that sacrificing values and personal health for others will only send one to the grave that much more quickly.   

 

Apparently I did make a difference.  Too bad the administration did not recognize my worth.

 

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Posted by on October 24, 2008 in Work

 

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29 – Who Killed Education?

I stayed up until 3am watching CNN’s special entitled, Black in America. My mother called to tell me about the special…she said it would be featured in two-parts and that I should check it out. Well, I did…and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since! The education portion of the Wednesday night’s special really hit home…hell, it even reminded me WHY I flocked towards that inner-city school the way in which I did. The statistics were mind boggling…the special report mentioned that Black children are, academically, the lowest achieving group in the world…in the WORLD…WOW! The report also noted that Black females make-up the majority of the African-American populace of post-secondary enrollment…Black males are more likely to drop out of school, become involved in a life of drugs, gangs, and crime…and end up in prison. WOW! Then the special featured how the plight of the black male (you know…not being educated or gainfully employed) affects the family structure and trims down the dating pool for Black females (if she’s only dating within her race)…and the stats for that…only 45% of Black females will ever get married. WOW! (I know that had nothing to do with education…more on a personal note)

Dr. Roland Fryer is a big-wig professor of economy over at THE Harvard University, and he is also the associate director of something called the American Inequality Lab (and yes, I so totally have a nerd crush on him). Fryer was featured on last night’s special due to his idea of “paying students to learn.” He feels that it will work. Fryer revealed that he grew up in an inner-city environment and claims that today’s students are not like the students of the past. He says that phrases such as, “Do your work so that you can make good grades and go to college,” mean anything anymore…he also says that today’s student (especially the inner-city student) needs a tangible incentive to get through school because they (lower-class, inner-city students) do not have the same role models that middle-class students have at home (which I guess would be their version of the tangible incentive).

The next thing I see is a group of Fourth Graders who are being rewarded/paid for making A’s on test. They receive a sheet of paper that tells them their balance…and the kids are excited. When the students are questioned about how they feel making money for studying affects them, one young man responded by saying that he felt it made his expectations for himself that much higher (I’m paraphrasing here). Reaching Out to Students When They Talk and Text discuss the idea more in depth, and while I understand the idea behind the action…I’m not so sure that what students will learn in the long-run will truly pay-off. I understand that students need to be motivated to learn, but is paying them THE answer? …Or giving them a cell phone? And I found the following quote from the article to be extremely interesting:

Mr. Klein and Dr. Fryer said they hoped that celebrities like the rapper Jay-Z, the comedian Chris Rock and the basketball star LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers would participate by sending text messages or calling students who succeed. Grades, attendance and completion of assignments will all be considered signs of success.

I find that quote interesting because a simple “Good job!” from your parent is no longer enough…a male from the ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY is now being expected to tow the line as the last hope for academic encouragement. I’m just wondering what will happen to these kids when they get out into the real world and realize that there are no rewards in college for acing an exam…there are no rewards at home for taking care of your children…there are no rewards or incentives for paying your bills on time (I don’t get discounts for that)…so, I will be extremely curious to see the end result of Dr. Fryer’s two year experiment. Also, I wonder how well this would work with drug-dealing high school students who would scoff at $25 per test…and I also wonder WHERE is this money coming from? Hey…and maybe I have no room to comment on anything like this since I had a middle-class upbringing with college educated family members, but my INCENTIVE to learn was a spanking…I didn’t want one…so I did the work, and then as I became older the spankings stopped and I understood the value of completing something via the fruits of my labor. HA! Go figure! Ideas like that are foreign and antiquated now! Now my students talk of abuse or neglect…never the middle ground where nurturing occurs…Has this also killed education?

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2008 in Work

 

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2-Zombies Phone Home

Zombies

I can’t believe this! This week is starting to turn into a rendition of Shaun of the Dead (sans the humor)…students who were kicked out, arrested, or suggested to withdraw are now returning. WHY?! WHY?! WHY?! If I disconnect the head from the body do you think it will hold the “zombies” back?

Student #1…let’s call him…”Blow em up!” At the beginning of the semester last year, he threatened to blow the school up, had marijuana in his locker (yes, an entrepreneur in our midst!), AND was hauled off of school property wearing designer handcuffs 😮 “Blow em up!” is back now and I’m wondering how his presence will affect the disorder of my classroom.

Student #2…let’s call him…”Nightmare.” He began the school year by sexually harassing me and another teacher. Some of “Nightmare’s” most memorable quotes during his tenure at It’s the Students’ World High School are as follows:

1) “Ms. ***, why you ain’t answer the phone when I called you this morning?” This question was shouted loudly in the hallway during class change. Several students looked at him and at me as if to ask…He has your phone number? Embarrassing!
2) “I’m going to come over to your house later tonight and knock that out.”
3) “You miss me last night?”
4) “Yes, Baby.” As a response whenever I asked him to STOP walking around the room while I was teaching, to STOP talking to other students while I was teaching, to STOP harassing other students with put-downs while I was teaching, OR to actually DO his work, WAKE UP, etc.!
5) During one class period (not his), he stormed into my classroom while I was teaching. I was sitting on the top of a desk with my back slightly turned to the door. Our principal did not understand the importance of enabling teachers to lock their own classrooms, so I did not have a key…my room was Grand Central Station…anyone could walk in at will and THEY DID! On this particular day, “Nightmare” walked in and placed his hands on my shoulders and proceeded to massage my shoulders. I jumped and turned quickly. I ordered him out immediately, but I felt VIOLATED because he said “What? It’s me, Baby!”
6) Oh…and don’t forget about the pelvic gyrations, directed at me, while he was standing in the doorway of my classroom. Atrocious!

The BEST part is once all of this inappropriate behavior was called to the attention of my fearless leader, the other teacher and I were instructed to “Call home.” Call home? Call home? Are you serious?!!!! I tell you that a STUDENT has been sexually harassing me and all you can up with is “call home?” I was under the impression that ANY form of sexual harassment was REQUIRED to be reported. It WAS NOT reported. My fearless leader was not the least bit interested in the situation. The other teacher and I called “Nightmare’s” mother and the behavior stopped for a while, and then returned in small spurts before he completely withdrew from the school. However, my fearless leader (let me repeat) did not follow up with the event, did not speak to “Nightmare” about the importance of respecting teachers, did not bother to DO anything other than say “Call home.”

I am hoping that there will be no more resurrection of zombies…I don’t know how much more of this I can take.

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2008 in Work

 

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