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
Teaching can be humanizing work.
This is how it happens.
The Rodriguez family walks down the hall and turns the corner to my room.
There is nothing more frightening to a writer than a blank sheet of paper, and as I looked out across the first staff meeting for the school’s literary magazine, I saw 20 blank sheets of paper staring back at me.
We needed a theme.
When our school decided to give single-gender classes a try, the first thing teachers wanted to know was whether or not they had to take the boys. I know folks who would rather take extra duty than have 25 boys in one room. But boys shine when they don’t have to worry about girls. I had a “boy homeroom” this past year and loved it.
The first day of my second year of teaching, a third-grader walked into class, saw another student and punched him in the nose. He didn’t say anything or give any indication that he was going to do this. It just happened. After cleaning up the blood and redirecting the class, I asked the attacker why he wanted to punch someone else. “He’s Mexican,” he said. “He don’t belong in my class.”
During one particularly frenetic transition in the classroom recently, Mila bounded up to me and asked, “Mrs. B, do you think I could be a writer someday?”
Without blinking, I emphatically replied, “Absolutely, I can totally see you as a writer.” She smiled and skipped over to join her friends in line to go to recess.
A few minutes later, as we were walking through the halls, I overheard her say excitedly to a friend, “Mrs. B thinks I can be a writer. She told me so.” She walked out for recess practically on air.
The county career center in my school district boasts a 96-percent placement rate, even in these days of near double-digit unemployment. That’s because its graduates develop skills our community needs. Students build houses. They repair cars. They network computers. Whether their next step is college, an apprenticeship or immediate employment, most high school students who complete a tech school program exit with a head start toward security.
If only that were true for all.
Adults often marvel as they watch children frolic on the playground centers. Children’s interactions appear effortless. There seem to be no barriers, no ego or self-doubt. If you want to play with someone, you simply ask him or her. It looks so uncomplicated. If a child is willing and able to partake in the fun, then there are bad guys to vanquish, princesses to be rescued and treasures to be found. A child’s imagination is the only thing placing limits on the exploration.
Rose Mary Gilliam just wants to speak her peace and find enlightenment.
The 18-year-old New Orleans resident has been a volunteer in the public schools. She’s trained in non-violent protest. She talks with youngsters about making positive life choices. And this week, she’s joining a group of her peers in a reverse “freedom ride” to Washington, D.C., to join a national conversation and to protest inequities in education.