View Full Version : All NYC Confessions of a bad NYC public school teacher

08-31-2011, 09:09 AM
From Salon.com (http://www.salon.com/life/feature/2011/08/29/confessions_of_a_bad_teacher/index.html) by John Owens:

By the time we sang "The Star–Spangled Banner" in 9th grade English, it was too late to save me. So I didn't even try to keep the kids quiet, and joined the class as they burst into song.

Almon, an A-average boy whose parents had emigrated from the Dominican Republic by way of Milwaukee, was absolutely sure our national anthem includes the lyric "cheese bursting in air."

Daria, who came from Honduras just a few years ago and was struggling with English, was gamely singing, trying to guess what words would be appropriate for a song about her new country. "Nice!" "Nice! In air!"

Sarah, the daughter of Ghanese immigrants, got every word right and hit every note with church-choir perfection. And from Rikkie, the highly intelligent, perhaps brilliant, boy, whose father is serving six years in an upstate prison, to Cristofer, a skinny kid who fancies himself a Puerto Rican tough ("I didn't even cry when my father died"), to A'Don, whose mother doesn't speak English, to Michael, whose father doesn't speak English, to Macon, who only seems to care about basketball, we sang loud, we sang laughing, we sang whatever words we knew, and we sang for all we were worth.

Considering that there's no daily Pledge of Allegiance in New York City public schools, and that American flags are almost as scarce, the class did quite well.

"The dawn's early light" hadn't echoed off the linoleum floor before an administrator and a school aide were in the doorway ready to quell this "disruption," as they did with so many of my classes.

But it was this high-spirited, everybody-participates approach that made the 9th Grade Writing Workshop a joy for me. And, I believe, for my students.

Assign spelling words or read a short story in class, and it would take all of my wits to keep the texting, talking, sleeping and wrestling in check. But make it 80 words on "Would you give up your cellphone for one year for $500?" and every student -- even those who never did any schoolwork -- handed in a paper. When I read these essays to the class in dramatic, radio-announcer fashion, there was silence punctuated by hoots of laughter or roars of agreement or disagreement.

It was almost magic. It was really fun. And I often could squeeze in some spelling, even punctuation. But we weren't always quiet.

And, according to my personnel file at the New York City Department of Education, I was "unprofessional," "insubordinate" and "culturally insensitive."

In other words, I was a bad teacher.

read more>> (http://www.salon.com/life/feature/2011/08/29/confessions_of_a_bad_teacher/index.html)