Monday, March 19, 2012

Two Weeks From Hell

In the last two weeks the following things have happened at my school:
- As I wrote in an earlier post I was choked by a third grade boy.
- One of the most beloved security guards at our school was attacked by a fifth grade boy and punched repeatedly causing severe bruising on her arms and back.
- A third grade teacher was pushed so hard by a boy in another class that she fell over.
- A seventh grade teacher found out that her blood pressure is too high due to stress and was told to take a two week medical leave.

In addition to all of this, Miss M, the dance teacher was also hurt and took a medical leave.  Miss M is a massive presence in our school and losing her seems like the final blow.  The school is out of control and the kids know it.  I feel terrible for many of the children because they are scared, confused and frustrated.  There is not much learning going on and how could there be?  If you noticed - many of the incidents that are occurring at my school are being done so by boys.  The male population at my school is in crisis.  These boys are terrified.  They also lack self esteem and - as I have said numerous times - a male influence.

As a teacher, the last two weeks have been crazy but I'm not leaving.  I'm committed.  I'm determined to try and make a difference.  Many times I look at the kids from the perspective of a parent not as an educator.  These kids are being robbed of something and it's not just an education but also their lives and development.

I have to try and change that.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Where Are the Men?

A third grade boy tried to choke me today.  He put his hand around my neck and had a look of sheer anger in his eyes.  He was fighting with another boy and I broke up the fight by pulling him off.  I put him into a door jam to calm him down and he grabbed my neck.

I don't blame him for anything.  This child is angry - like most of the boys at my school.  They are young boys or men and most are mad.  I feel terrible for them.  They need help and I am not talking about academic help.  They need a man to not only look up to but talk to and express themselves with.  I don't know how they would react to me because of my skin color.  Is this wrong?

I am a father before I am a teacher and I am the father of a son and a daughter.  I see what I give my son and these boys don't have that.  The boys at my school are starving for a male to lead the way.  I don't know that I am that man but damn it I'm gonna give it a try.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Basic Needs

Today I had a third grade boy tell me that he doesn't smile.  I tried my hardest to get him to crack but he wasn't taking the bait.  Finally, after some of my best material failed, I saw his lips change position and begin to form the basic shape of a what could be a smile but then he stopped himself and walked away.

Yesterday I had a fifth grade boy ask if I wanted to see a picture of his father.  I told him that I would love to see the picture, fully expecting him to get a photo from his backpack or jacket pocket.  Instead he walked over to my computer and navigated his way onto a web site that showed mug shots.  There staring back at me was his dad.  In the Newark system for God knows what.

The boys at my school are starved for things we all take for granted.  Hugs from men being the number one.  Healthy meals are number two and discipline and structure are tied for number three. How can these kids be expected to learn anything when they come to school lacking the utter basic needs of life?

I love when I hear people and pundits speak of what's "wrong" with inner city schools.  It 's always some asinine commentary on what teachers do wrong.  Come spend a week with me and then make your comments.

The kids I work with are not intellectually underserved.  They are emotionally underserved.