A few notes:
It all comes down to how you teach people to fight with the tools they have. We have been fighting with the bosses’ tools. We can spend a lot of time doing legislation. I think that’s fine—have a legislative approach. But understand that you don’t control that process. We can talk about electing the right people, but ultimately, unless we have a state house full of teachers and paraprofessionals and clinicians, I don’t think we’ll get what we want coming out of state legislatures. You need to have good relationships with legislators; you need to have members get in touch and let them know what’s important to you. That’s one tool. But it’s not the only tool.
Our best tool is our ability to put 20,000 people in the street. I don’t care if one rich guy buys up all the ad space. The tool that we have is a mass movement. We have the pressure of mass mobilization and organizing.
- Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union
As we consider Martin Luther King’s legacy today and the re-inauguration of Barack Obama, Lewis’ words ought to ring true to anyone fighting for equity in this country.
Before I proceed, dozens of people from various school districts have told me that my site is blocked on their school computers. In the event that it is, you can always get my articles via e-mail by signing up on the right-hand side of this blog or by subscribing via RSS for my savvy readers, also on the right-hand side. They can block my site’s URL, but they can’t block your e-mails or your RSS reader.
A few notes:
“Yesterday, we had a nice conversation on Twitter [with regards to] experience, newbies, and challenges in teaching profession. It’s been a busy semester and what I share online is to try to bridge understanding as to what’s happening on the ground level, the ground zero of education reform, [namely] the school. So I share this: whose fault is it that a rambunctious classroom wreaks havoc on a campus? The teacher, the admin, the school, the system? We have a math/science shortage in the U.S. so we import teachers in these areas from the Philippines where [their education] system is vastly different. They arrive in South Central [Los Angeles], shell-shocked. The district mandates struggling readers to take a prescribed curriculum, READ 180.
Students are grouped together because behavior issues are strongly correlated to reading difficulties. By end of the day, kids are up to no good. The teacher new to the country struggles. [There's no money] for mentors, no money for appropriate number of admins to supervise teachers adequately, plus a language barrier. Do we expect such students to not throw chairs, not say f**k you to staff members before eight in the morning, or not throw bloody maxi pads around? So, in conclusion, experience matters, but so does a well-funded educational system, community resources to combat poverty and empathy by all.”
- Martha Infante, emphasis and brackets mine
The first step always starts with a teacher’s current crop of kids. The one question I always ask myself when students walk in is, “What do I see?” Then, “What do I think I see?” I’m laying down some of my general assumptions for me to probe, then trying to understand why I feel that way. Sometimes, these assumptions come from observations I’ve made about the world, but often, they come from hearsay and stereotypes I’ve also inherited. Red herrings like black hoodies, big earphones, and unbelted low-hung pants might tell me that the person in front of me has no respect for any classroom courtesies, but he could just as easily be making a countercultural fashion statement. He might spend as more time on the block or in his house helping his mother. He might actually care about what I have to say or he doesn’t on that particular day for any number of reasons.
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Jose, who can’t keep the secret in anymore …
We as a whole need to transform our vision of the professionals who spend on average $400 of their monies to the 30, 60, 90, 150 students in front of them for the majority of the year. We should listen to this group not just when they need to give your child a report card, but also when they speak on the dire conditions of our poorest and most ostracized. We should listen to the group when they have something to say about the brush fire that is legislation against teachers, but also when they speak on the damaging effects of natural and man-made disasters around the world that influence how the schools around them get built. In turn, it means teachers need to speak up about these things. It’s great that many teachers dedicate their whole lives to ed-tech, but they should speak up about budgeting and why they can’t get the proper tools to their students.
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Jose, who had a long parent-teacher conference night tonight …