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
Today I went to an individualized educational plan (IEP) meeting for one of my middle school students. The parent reported that her son “is constantly being bullied at school." She said he is being harassed by other students because of his disability. It happens before and after school. Once, students stole his hat and put it in the trash. Another time, they took his water bottle and put sand in it.
The Anoka-Hennepin school district, Minnesota’s largest, has been in the national spotlight since last year. That’s when several students who were gay or perceived to be gay committed suicide. According to friends and family, the students had one thing in common: They had been bullied at school.
The undercurrent affects my classroom. I can feel its tug and see its effects but can rarely locate the source or the exact flow. Cruel taunts and gossip are the culprits behind my students’ tears, stony faces—their anger and their fear. The ferociousness of the few vicious communications I have been privy to as a high school teacher caught me off guard. High school can be a shark tank and the blood flows with every passing class period, thanks in part to the popularity of online social media. I feel helpless to save the victims because I don’t even know who they are half the time.
Three girls take part in a common kindergarten classroom interaction—planning what they’ll play during morning recess. Recess is a time when children participate in unrestricted free play with their peers. The games to be played–and the players—are constantly on the minds of the 5- and 6-year-olds, especially during cleanup. One of the girls in the group offers the following suggestion, “How about only people wearing skirts are cats?”
At the start of my career as an eighth-grade language arts teacher, it never bothered me when students were described by teachers as “low,” “middle,” or “high” as a way to label their abilities. No disrespect was meant toward our learners; it was just a fast and easy way to describe our kids and get to know them when we had so little time with them.
I work as an instructional coach at a large, diverse and underperforming urban public elementary school. Our students are at-risk. Families are struggling with stress and trauma. Teachers work mightily to close the achievement gap. So as I left a third-grade classroom the other day after a check-in with the teacher, I wasn’t surprised when she said, “Wait, can I ask you one more thing?”
Just when we thought that public opinion of teachers couldn’t get any worse, a new film, Bad Teacher by the writers of the television mockumentary, The Office, Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky was released across the country. The film’s title leads you to believe there is only one villain, but the truth is every teacher in this film is bad. Obviously, it’s meant to be a funny summer film, but if you take a closer look at what this movie says about teachers, it’s distressing.