First Week Observations
So I started school this week. All I was doing was introducing myself to the children and watch their every move. I didn’t have to do much. If they needed anything I did help if needed, but I stayed at my teacher’s desk while she taught and interacted with the children. I helped around the class where she needed help but I was mostly quiet and getting ready to start teaching my first day on Friday.
So far, I think I am going to really enjoy the all male classes. See the school is a mixed school from grades 5-10. The plan is to make it 6-12 in the next 2 years. The school is made up of boys and girls, however, the classes themselves don’t have that much gender mixing. All of the lower classes or students who have been identified with 504 Accommodations are in single gendered classes. The top students who scored high on the benchmark exam are in mixed gendered classes. This is something that the principle just implemented since her tenure at the school since 2000. I don’t know what this means or how this effects learning, but in 138 hours of observation, I will most likely figure this out sooner or later.
Now the schools in New Orleans are non-district and most of them are charter schools. So what is so special with such schools? Well the first is that any student can attend the school, no matter what part of the city they live in. If the school is good then many people are going to want to get their children in, however, the school has completely autonomy. They can accept and deny students if they choose. In New Orleans, just because one school is performing poorly, that student is not guaranteed to another school or gets any type of assistance to move. Also the principal has completely autonomy. She can fire and hire people as she pleases. She doesn’t have to do all the paper work and evaluations that other principles do in district educational systems. They can put in reforms that they want and be able to change schools as they please, and not have to go through the school board to get approval or have to go through the “central office”.
My first downfall experience I have had with the students this week. All I was doing this week was observing the classroom. I wasn’t teaching. Unfortunately, when the first group of boy’s class walked in, we had a little altercation. As soon as they walked in, one of the young men walked in the class and looked towards another young man and said, “Hey man he looks exactly like you”. Well at first you think he would have been talking about my kin folk but he wasn’t. He was looking at another “gay student”. So I looked gay by his standard and comparing me to this other student. This guy has never met me before but already he assumes that I am gay. Even though I get this all the time, it still makes me think. How much of him is speaking and how much of his parents are speaking? He may know what a gay man is and what a straight man is, however, trying to judge someone is questionable. Well you probably were guessing what happened afterwards. Well I heard what was said and then my teacher heard it at the same time. I didn’t have to do anything because she went to town on them. She got them. She talked about their studying habits, their ignorance. She also talked about their very poor reading levels, their grade in the class and their future if they keep up the way they have been. Then the principal, the assistant principal and the dean of students walked in the classroom to finish taking care of the situation. So after the principal found out who said what then that student was suspended. So I guessed that the day I was going to teach was going to be harder than I thought. I hope my teaching day goes smoothly. I don’t know if I could ever teach this class. I mean I get this all the time, but it still hurts. I mean I couldn’t show the students that my feelings were hurt, but time after time, it still pokes me a little. When you think you have moved from it, it still comes to haunt you.
So I taught my first class on Friday. All I did was plan little games that helped them get ready for their vocabulary test for the following week. I had a bingo game where I said the definition and they had to guess the word. Then I played a student-expert game, where they had to find someone in the class who had an experience that matched the description in the box given. Once they found that person, everyone who had signed their name in the box had to share their experience of that particular description. Then I gave them a cross word puzzle to challenge them. It was Friday, so I figured the day should end on a good not at least.