Saturday, January 26, 2008

My Revelation, My Dilemma

This week I had a revelation. In order for me to be a successful teacher (and to feel good about my work), I have to be more involved in the design of the courses that I am co-teaching.

Easier said than done.

What it means, is that I must be a much more active participant in the construction of lesson plans and in the delivery of instruction. It is not enough to simply assist the teacher, or to work individually with the special ed students to make lessons more accessible. I must assert myself as a ‘strategy specialist’ (whatever that means) for the course, not just a disciplinarian in the class.

The problem is time. Planning time. How is it at all possible to successfully plan three different course with three different teachers with limited co-planning time? I am trying to reach for the ideal, but the reality is hitting me in the face. I’m also dealing with working with teachers who are insensitive to the needs of Special Ed students. It’s not like they (the gen ed teachers) chose this field- so on many levels, I cannot blame them. However, I cannot bear witness, or co-sign on inappropriate teaching to students with special needs.

So it appears like I need to somehow slip in some sensitivity training into my fellow colleagues.

So yea, this is my revelation, but also my dilemma.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

I teach kids about the Jena 6, you call me the n word, and I am the racist?!?

Unfortunately, I have to start moderating my comments on this blog, because of the utter ignorance that is starting to be apparent with people making comments on my blog. I have no problems with comments that pose an alternate view to my postings, however, ignorance and racism will not be tolerated!

How can I be called a racist by someone who is calling me the n word? And for the other cowardly anonymous commenter to "agree with the above (racist) post"??? Co-signing racism? That's a new one.

So sad, so sad.

In case you are wondering what this is all referring to, check out the recent anonymous comments to my post from October 22, 2007 "Young revolutionaries".

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Tomorrow, yesterday, and today

I am feeling the pain of tomorrow.  I am feeling the throbbing sting of yesterday.  Sometimes I wish the pain could numb me.  But it doesn't.  My young brothers and sisters- caught in between the crossfire of a war that is not their own; Unfair recipients of the vicious 80s.  Children of drug infestation, black on black gun waving.  Disease and sub-standard housing.  Building overcrowding.  Dead bodies on door steps.  Gun in face on the way to school.  Students scared to go home.  Students scared to be in school.  Fear of disability exposure.  Fear of fear.  Fear of "Mr.- when you gonna leave, just like the rest of them?" relationship closure.  Fear of greatness because that becomes expectation. 

Eyes do not lie.  They never have.  Words lie, but eyes tell the truth.  In the eyes of many of my students, I see the pain of a generation scared and scarred with the past to haunt them, and the future to not believe in. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Teaching inclusion is extremely difficult.  Teaching in New York City is difficult period.  But teaching in an inclusive environment is proving to be extremely challenging.  I'm constantly trying to gauge my students' aptitude and learning, their evolution and progress (as well as my own).  What makes inclusion so challenging is in part the obvious: extreme abilities, extreme levels of confidence, extreme emotional levels; all put into a system that is based on uniform learning.  Differentiation only goes so far, especially when they take standardized tests!  I'm trying to put my feet in the shoes of my students.  What would I need?  What would I want to hear?  What would I want to do?  As much as I try to empathize my way into their experience, I can never really know, but I can try to understand. 

But again, there are so many factors involved.  How can I even ever truly understand?  Everyday I'm reminded of how much I don't know.  The power is definitely in the hands of my students.  More than any one factor, they turn it on and off.  I can only try to do my best to keep the 'on' switch 'on' as much as possible.