Sunday, January 24, 2010

Cultural Differences

Friday was an interesting experience here in the Delta. I really struggled with an experience I had this past basketball game.

We were playing a tough game against a local team when the crowd really starts to get in to it. One of my players plays pretty rough and pushed a player. Naturally she got a foul and I took her out of the game to calm down. Well, unfortunately the parents of the other team did not want to let her calm down, and started cussing at her and yelling pretty inappropriate things.

My player started to cry and got really frustrated. At the end of the game she walked out and didn't slap any hands. Some woman decided that this action was not allright and decided to ambush my players and starting "fighting" and cussing. It was pretty embarrassing for her right?

Man, I was like what are you doing woman? She swung her arm at me, she was cussing, she was throwing arms and hands in people's faces. She was CRAZY...and it was all over a basketball game that her kid was not even participating in!

People were floored that I didn't hit her back, didn't cuss her out, etc. This is where my struggle stems from. You know, I can control what happens in my classroom, what happens at basketball, what happens on school campus...but you can not control what happens at home for these kids. I think about them fighting and them wasting their lives away with so much anger and it really disturbs me.

But, after an experience like that the problem is clearly not stemming from personal issues - it has now become a cultural issue. I mean really, how can we expect our students to not fight and have these anger issues when their parents and guardians are doing the exact same thing.This parent was so uninvolved in the incident that it was MIND BLOWING that she could have these reactions. I was floored.

When we move down here and make this "positive impact" on these kids it's great, right? And yes, for years there will be more and more of us working towards positive change. But how much change can we cause when these issues happen at every public event that we have...and it's not even the kids who start it! Culturally, we don't replace people. Teachers yes, role models yes, friends yes, but this kind of change will take decades...because its been happening for decades already.

Sometimes I feel like these kids would be GREAT when integrated into more mainstream cities. But, really I would be nervous that they would fall into the same patterns they have developed here in C, HG, and the surrounding areas. Can they bring their beliefs, attitudes, and actions to the "big time" city? Probably not with success. And this is a debilitating thought for me. I can prepare them academically, even maybe a little bit psychologically, but really --socially and professionally some of the actions that are "mainstream acceptable" here would cause immediate termination from many places I have worked at in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

This is such an interesting paradox to have added in the past few weeks. My students make significant gains in the classroom-but unless coupled with improvements in their sociability and cultural awareness, they will not survive when moving into a different area of the United States.

A Long Road

Sorry everyone, you probably don't even read anymore - I've been too lazy! Anyway, lots and lots has happened since my last post. This is going to be a long post most likely.

We're coming up to a pretty important time of the year - TEST TIME. We have our first EOC (end of course) in about 5 weeks...and lucky me, it's English! Woot woot my kids' are going to be stepping up to the plate really soon! It's a big test because my students have to pass it to graduate high school. I have been doing a lot of test prep and a lot of motivational stuff, hoping to build confidence in the students' these last few moments.

It's interesting because really all of my years work leads up to this little moment, this one day of testing. I know why so many teachers stress about it now, but really I kind of don't as well. You know, as Teach for America has told us many times, if you do the research and you monitor progress consistently, you really should know what the results of this test are going to be. I think a lot of my students will be predictable, good and bad, but there are a few that I want to not be teetering on that line...I want them to succeed!!

I am excited but also so nervous. I think that these kids are great, and sometimes they work really hard too, but man I don't know! Did I do enough? Did I do everything I could do? Did I prepare them with the correct information and the most important? Nerve racking!!!!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

What Makes a Great Teacher?

This is a great article that I was forwarded from a fellow Corp member.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

"Change will not come if we wait for some other person of some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek." -Barack Obama

Tomorrow, Ahhh

Sunday night, 6:11 PM and I am just waiting for the chaos to ensue! I have a mixture of feelings on this eve of Spring term at school. I am excited to go back, excited to see the kids, excited to keep practicing with the girls. I am not so excited to deal with craziness, flu season, and lesson plans.

I have been making a unit plan the last few hours, finishing my TIA document (for the State), and trying to recenter my life around school! I never thought two weeks would feel like an eternity! I have these weird feelings that I am not going to even recognize some of my students! I know this is ludicrous, but for some reason that length of time, after seeing them pretty much 6 out of 7 days a week I have come to expect it. Well, after a two week break I didn't expect it anymore...but I better get ready because they are all going to show up tomorrow.

There are so many things left uncertain. We aren't able to get into the school today, as far as I know so my room is exactly how I left it (kind of cleaned up...kind of not). I need to go early and reorganize the classroom, prepare for the students, make lots of copies, and get ready for the storm that is 1st period.

I think maybe after a little bit of time with them tomorrow, even maybe just 15 minutes I'll get back into the swing of things. As of right now I feel like a train is coming right at me, and I am pretty sure it is going to go right through me.

Eeeeekkks, hopefully this goes well!


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

William Ernest Henley, Invictus