A place for educators to find thought-provoking news, conversation and support for those who care about diversity, equal opportunity and respect for differences in schools
When the news about the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School broke on Friday, we quickly issued some advice for teachers heading back to school on Monday.
There is no greater blow to a society than when its children are harmed. Today, we are reeling.
My colleagues thought my teaching Lord of the Flies was “perfect.” My seventh-grade class is two-thirds male. The group contains several strong personalities and many “followers,” who often mimic bad behavior. Last year, teachers struggled with this group, several instances of bullying, and a developing culture of negativity. I saw the power struggles on the first day of school and knew I had to address them early.
It’s that time of year again—when former students come into my classroom to vent about the college application process. I’ve already written more letters of recommendation than I can count this year. Now, it’s just a waiting game. My students are not good at waiting, especially when the outcome is out of their control. Not knowing whether they will be accepted to their schools of choice is excruciating.
I recently confronted my prejudices. After teaching for many years in a low-income, high-violence area of Oakland, Calif., I decided to do some private tutoring. I sought to avoid the stress of politics in the district and the uncertainty of having a new principal every year for over eight years. Although I had outlasted all of the teachers I had started working with, I felt guilty because this was the population I wanted to serve.
On a recent field trip, I found Nashley and Bersabeh in a quiet corner of the library, sharing both a chair and a book. For an English teacher, this scene is pure gold: two ninth-graders, becoming friends, in the library, reading a book. I snapped a photo before squealing my delight. Then, I crouched down next to them to find out more about what they were reading.
Students are dying.
On Nov. 27, Josh Pacheco took his own life. He had come out as gay to his mother a couple months before his death. His parents learned recently that Josh had been bullied at school.
As a student, seventh grade was a really scary time for me. Even now, I distinctly remember the churning in my belly every morning when I arrived at school. I was crippled by insecurity when the teacher called my name in class and all eyes turned my way. School felt aggressive and frightening. Students struggled for power and to be seen as “popular.” I began to realize that my anxiety was something that made me different from the other kids.