2 comments on “Stories from November

  1. Hear ya on those stories. I would definitely trade teaching at CHS and my current job at DCPS. I’m teaching rather intelligent 7th graders ( i don’t know if you are teaching the low achieving population that i did last year of whom I’m horribly nostalgic). My guys this year could rise past title one public school education mediocrity except FOR THE INSANE crazycrazy broken psycho system of DCPS that sucks my soul daily from me and keeps them untracked and in classrooms where many students are soo behind grade level, the class moves at a snail’s pace. It’s bad.

    At CHS, I think I had one day out of 180 where I “didn’t like” my job. I have had maybe an hour of “i like this job” in the midst of loud, fierce stress and anxiety, and flooding negative emotions of I HATE MY JOB. And most of the hate is not because the kids give me grief, even if I am teaching a classroom of 20 hyper middle school boys and moody mean girls four times a day. Of course there are going to be bad days with the kids, but pile on silly edschool-bureaucratic-energy and time consuming ineffective work that has nothing to do with my kids or teaching- and lots of negative working environment crap and that will pummel my teaching career into the grave. Most people don’t last a year, rarely two at this school. And this school has everything going for it that CHS needs: super structured days and routines, gendered segregated classrooms, uniforms, mega super counselor social services community involvement. The admin just uses and abuses teachers abominably and the high high rate of turnover keeps everything unstable.

    In any case, I envy you. I love(d) those kids. There’s a way to reach them. I wish I could go back and teach with all that i have learned from this crazy school. My classes would zing!

    As for unasked for professional advice that you may have tried, consider trying to build their autonomy in any way possible. Make them own the class if they can. Have student leaders who take all the notes on the board, collect/pass out homework, stand by you and translate and reword slash summarize everything you say. It really does boost student engagement to have a peer in front of the classroom. And if you are not already a fan of my absolute favorite teaching strategy, non-linguistic representations, then maybe try to do more. The catch to this all, at least for middle-schoolers, maybe not high-schoolers, is to keep keeping it novel. But in the end, it(management) requires respect and i am at a loss sometimes how to demand it. Lots of time I blame two things: youth and my culture (especially how it relates to my skin color), which at the end of the day doesn’t help you get the job done even if it temporarily makes you feel better about the situation.

    I do not understand how teachers stay in the profession for so long… unless they teach in the suburbs.

  2. Hi Harrison, This is Mrs. Murphy for Stony Point. I got your blog from looking at Jennifer’s blog. I had no idea that you were teaching in an urban setting. I will be praying for you. I am completely overwhelmed by your situation as I can only imagine that you are also. My first teaching job was on the Eastern Shore of MD, in a self-contained EMR 7th grade class. I had 18 students that supposedly had IQ’s from 50 to 70. Their ages ranged form 12 to 16. Some of them were truly retarded but the rest were all culturally deprived. I’ll have tell you about it sometime, if your interested. It was an eye-opening 2 years for me. The school has been the all black school until integration, only about a year before I got there. What I went thru certainly pales in comparison!!
    I’m going to tell Hannah to read your blog. She just started student teaching this week. She is thinking of applying to Teach America and this may be helpful to her.
    Seriously Harrison, I will be praying for you, I’m not just saying that. You may have been called there for such a a time as this!!!!

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