Laura Klein, a middle school teacher and blogger, writes: “Perhaps all teachers have one student for whom they are teaching. Sedina was that student for me. Even now, when I am no longer her teacher, she’s still the one.”
In her latest blog post about teaching at a South Bronx middle school, Laura Klein writes about visiting a student at an in-patient psychiatric facility. As a teacher, she writes, it’s easy to take comfort in knowing that her expectations for troubled students provide “simplicity in a world that is chaotic and scary.” But when an incident occurs, she writes, it reinforces that, “We don’t have the solutions, and even if we did, we don’t have the power to fix the things that are broken in their lives.”
A Queens English teacher writes: Dear education reformers, I humbly submit that teachers are not the Zeroes you make us out to be. Nor are we all Heroes. We rarely confront fire-breathing dragons, but we do face off against hormone-engorged adolescents. We don’t pull swords from stones, but we do pull thoughtful answers from reluctant learners. And we do face off against ‘poverty, hunger, discrimination, abuse, bullying and neglect. Sometimes, we even win.
Laura Klein, a middle-school teacher in the Bronx, writes that test prep is in full swing at her school — as it must be, given all that rides on the results. But the problem is not in using precious school time to teach to a test. “Our failure is that we struggle to inspire them beyond the test,” she writes — and students have to be reminded why learning must continue in the sunny months of May and June.
Laura Klein, who teaches at a Bronx middle school, says she has had a tough time getting her students interested in current events. But the Trayvon Martin case practically walked into her classroom. When she gave her students an assignment related to the case, she writes: “They got right to work, quiet and focused, only pausing to discuss the issue with their peers. This was an issue with which they clearly connected.”
An E.S.L. teacher at a Queens high school writes: ‘It’s not often you can get in the middle of something and make such an immediate difference. We didn’t have to do this, and none of us got paid extra for it — but things like these, not merit pay, not test scores, make us love what we do. Still, I have to wonder what would happen under the new paradigm in New York State and New York City. Would Stephanie help our value-added scores? Would Mom keep her home the day of the test? If she were on our registers, would that affect our ratings?’
An English teacher in Queens writes: “Great teaching, like great writing, is nuanced, complex and much larger than the sum of its parts. Good principals and administrators ‘know it when they see it.’”
For Laura Klein, a middle-school teacher and regular SchoolBook contributor, the tragedy of Kiara was not just that she was 17 and still in the eighth grade. The tragedy was that she was giving up on herself at such a young age.
A Queens English teacher writes: “The feeling when your teacher data report arrives by e-mail is akin to going over the crest of a roller coaster, realizing you’ve lost your wallet, and stepping where the last stair ought to have been, all rolled into one nauseating package. It’s an event that you know may have drastic implications for your career, but you also know the result is as random as a scratch-off lottery ticket. “
A teacher who blogs about her experiences teaching in a Bronx middle school writes: Often teachers who pull the best out of a troubled student are considered to be transforming — even magical. But kids who succeed because of us are not kids who have the tools to succeed in the long run. Relationships matter — but they aren’t enough.
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