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By the 171st day of school, even a dedicated and enthusiastic teacher like me is pretty sure I am immune to being moved or motivated in any sort of way.
I am mechanically and somewhat maniacally moving toward the soul nurturing, patience restoring and creativity refueling station we know as “summer vacation.” My fuse is short. I have an overwhelming need for order, structure and control in the classroom. Final exams, deadlines for grades and year-end papers are due.
“I’ve gotten used to you being a teacher everywhere you go.”
My oldest son said this to me at the beginning of the summer after some children we don’t know joined a game of tag that we were playing together.
"It's not fair!”
Full of angst and rebellion, the teenage delinquent, arms crossed, leans against a concrete wall with a surly look. Heavy eyes searing under a furled brow, lips pursed in a snarl. This stereotypical portrayal of teenagers is ubiquitous in media and seems to represent society's general opinion of this age group. Unfortunately, society doesn’t have the full picture here.
I wiggle in my desk chair, softly swiveling it ever so gently back and forth, and fidget with my pen. I am a student in my own classroom.
At the front of the room stands a teacher in my place. To outside observers the girl dressed in flip flops and jeans pointing at things projected to the white board could not possibly be in charge—if anything they might mistake her as an unruly student who escaped from the confines of her desk.
At least once a quarter, my colleagues and I create a big project for our students. We hope that they will connect what they learn in the classroom with the wider experiences they have in the community.
For the past two years, I have taught in classrooms where the boys outnumbered the girls by a ratio of 3-to-1.
The food justice unit was one of the most successful of the year. Until the meltdown.
Students had watched Food, Inc., read several articles about food production and created masterful multimedia presentations on their learning. They were now presenting. Omar chose several pictures of his favorite dishes. He told us about them and how they were made. Then he interjected a seemingly innocent joke.
Through a grant from Teaching American History, I was part of a group of teachers who spent months reading, listening and watching films and videos about the civil rights movement before we took a trip to the South.
But still it was history—far away, untouchable and remote. That was until the first day in Sumner, Miss.