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Standing Here in Front of You

March 22, 2012
Journal Topics

My students write in their journals every day. This topic was, "In 20 years I will be..."

A student asked me to write a note home to his mother yesterday about how good he was in class because she was going to give him $150 to buy pink and white Adidas shoes to match his pink and white polo he’s going to wear for Easter. This kid is really into shoes. One day he had to wear the same shoe in 2 different colors because his little sister hid all his shoes from him.

He’s the same kid who is missing his bottom left teeth after getting his face bashed in after running from the cops (in a stolen minivan with a hot glock). Oh– and the same kid who hides in classrooms some mornings, peering out the windows. He says he shot a kid who is now paralyzed, and that kid’s people are after him now, trying to kill him.

One of my 18-year-old 8th graders got pissed today after he didn’t know the third answer on our proofreading passage. He told me to get the paper “out his face” and then pushed it off onto the floor. I left him alone for a few minutes, and by the end of class he was staring blankly off into outerspace. Because I know he had a violent streak at his last school, I didn’t push the issue with him. I just checked in, asked him if he was ok, and moved on. I could see something different in his eyes today.

At lunch I found out he got put out of his house yesterday because he beat up his step dad, apparently pretty badly. My student practices mixed martial arts at a studio every day after school. I can imagine he can do some damage. My principal calls him over to check in with him. The student tells us he’s staying with his grandfather for now.

I got a new student this morning, a well-spoken, pretty 14-year-old girl who had a voucher for private school until she had a baby and lost the voucher. The handful of students who were here for lit block were discussing Trayvon Martin, the young black male who was shot by a Hispanic man in Florida for looking suspicious. She says, “I though segregation was supposed to be over.”

I tell her it is supposed to be over. But it isn’t.

“Why do black people have to go to bad schools and white people get better educations?”

I tell her I have the same question, and try to explain many statistical correlations that don’t solve today’s problem, which is all my kids are far behind and have very few options for good public schools.

“What is the answer?” She looks at me. They’re all looking at me.

“I’m standing here in front of you, aren’t I?”

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Robin permalink
    March 22, 2012 3:22 pm

    What can the people who read this blog do to let your kids know that we care an awful, awful lot?

    • March 22, 2012 10:13 pm

      Good question. Once I figure out how to convince them any of us care, I’ll let you know. : ) Until then, go volunteer to teach kids how to read better. There are kids in need all over. Urban schools in KC aren’t much better off than NOLA, minus Katrina of course. That’s a start.

  2. moonmaid permalink
    March 22, 2012 4:10 pm

    Your blog made me cry today! Figuring out how to read students is such a learning experience -when to back off and when to nudge a little. This week it worked 2 days in a row for me, minor miracle.

  3. March 24, 2012 1:21 pm

    A of all.. thanks for all that you do!
    B-2… Can I bend your ear about your transition to NOLA? I’m currently teaching in Philly and looking to make the switch. It’s a bit tough to navigate the system and I’d love to hear your thoughts on a few things.

    Enjoy the weekend and let me know how I can get in touch if you can spare the time.

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