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

Remembering the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire

Maureen Costello - March 24, 2011

Going to graduate school at New York University was often a literal walk through American history. A row of brownstones facing Washington Square housed school offices, and it was hard not to think of Edith Wharton each time I passed. The urban campus, which spread out along the blocks surrounding the square, included converted early 19th-century stables and one-time factory lofts refashioned into classroom and office spaces.

The most infamous of those lofts was the Asch Building. Today it’s a science center with a bronze plaque that lets you know it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places. On March 25, 1911—100 years ago—it was the site of one of the worst workplace accidents in American history, the Triangle Waist Company fire.

Getting Through the Vicissitudes of Life

Laura Sofen - March 23, 2011

The O’Brien boys were a handful. Apathetic overstates how disinterested in school they were. They wandered in and out of my class, and when I wasn’t teaching, I’d see them aimlessly strolling the halls as if they had no place to be. They were mischievous yet charming, belligerent at some times and cooperative at others. They were also smart, funny and irreverent. But no matter what I or anyone else did, they wouldn’t engage in school. 

Lunch With Teacher Builds Relationships

Nancy Barlow - March 22, 2011

Consider the humble lunch as one of your most powerful teaching tools.

From the first day of school, Ricky was one of my most difficult students. Defensive, angry, and sensitive, this 7-year-old was constantly putting up walls and “testing” the adults in charge to see if we would respond to his needs. With the lack of a guidance counselor or a full-time school psychologist in the school, I knew that I had to find a way to connect with him, or we were going to have a disastrous school year.

For Tomorrow

Debra Solomon Baker - March 21, 2011

The opening scene of the 2004 film Yesterday shows a mother (named Yesterday) and her daughter Beauty, walking down a deserted South African road. The daughter, maybe 5 years old, is describing her desire to transform into a bird. Why? She wants to float over to their destination, relieving her little legs of the agony of this miles-long trek.

The finish line is a health clinic in a ramshackle hut. You see, Yesterday has developed this wretched, knock-you-over cough. But the line is lengthy, so they wait and wait until it’s announced that everyone else must return next Tuesday.

Next Tuesday? A once-a-week doctor? Yes.

Language Immersion Connects with Students

Maria Zamudio - March 18, 2011

Letuka Mosia has a unique schedule.

Aside from the traditional math and science classes, the sixth-grader is learning Chinese, Spanish and Nahuatl, an indigenous language.

Learning languages comes easy and is one of the main reasons he’s excited about going to school at Semillas del Pueblo, Letuka said. “My teachers are relaxed and easy going. I like my school.”

The Boys in My Study Hall

Laura Sofen - March 16, 2011

The boys in my study hall think I hate them.

Because I am constantly demanding silence, because I am constantly reminding them to be courteous of those who are trying to work, because I don’t let them leave the room at will, the boys say I hate them.

I can honestly say I have never hated any student. But this combination of boys is so disruptive and thoughtless in the way they behave, that they do drive me crazier than I’d like. 

It’s Never Too Early to Talk About Race

Sarah Butler - March 15, 2011

Feast for 10, a children’s book by Cathryn Falwell, recently found its way into a lesson at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Cooperative Nursery School. The book, focusing on counting skills, follows a family through the relatively mundane task of grocery shopping and preparing a meal—from one grocery cart to 10 hungry people.

But when the group of predominantly white 3-year-olds listened to and asked questions about the story, none commented that the family in the book was black.

Is this seemingly color-blind attitude a good thing? Not necessarily. 

Teens Find Fun, Focus in Summer Programs

Jill E. Thomas - March 14, 2011

Summer is the most violent time of year in urban areas. Some cite hotter temperatures, while others point the finger at out-of-school teenagers. No one factor is to blame, but it makes sense to provide opportunities for young people while keeping them off the streets. Summer service programs can help.

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