(Closed) Calling all Teachers

posted 8 years ago in Career
Post # 3
Member
21 posts
Newbee
  • Wedding: June 2010

Miss Olive,

I work at an at-risk program for students near L.A.  I would say some of the biggest qualities a teacher should have when dealing with that type of person is:

1.  A balance of compassion and firmness.  The children may go through many difficult things, but at the end of the day they need to be expected to not be a victim of their circumstance and you must not let them use those things as an excuse.

2.  Understanding.  There will be situations when things happen that you never would have expected or anticipated and you should probably try to be understanding of those things and to be there for students.  I have had students tell me that they have never been able to talk to a teacher the way that they talk and interact with me.

3.  Don’t treat them like a kid until they make you.  I try to teach my students like adults.  I don’t yell at them, embarrass them, ostracize them because I am sure they have experienced all of that before coming into my classroom.  Until they seem unable to respond to your “adult-like treatment”, that is when you need to be a little more hands on with them in terms of instructions and expectations.

4.  Be someone that they can confide in, respect, and idolize.  This may sound crazy, but students look up to you.  Even when you think they don’t care, they do.  They remember things.  (Sometime they only remember what they want to remember). You are a great influence in their life and should regard that as a privilege.

5.  Always be open.  I have learned A LOT from my students.  There is always something to learn from each student. 

6.  Get to know them.  Take the time and ask them about their interests and find ways to incorporate those interests into the curriculum.

7.  Be consistent.  No matter what, decide what battles you are going to fight and stick with them.  Don’t say what you can’t do. Don’t make false threats. 

8.  Constantly lecture them but in a non-lecturing manner.  Talk to them like adults, but let them no what the deal is. 

 

Hope this helps.  Hope you get accepted!

 

Post # 5
Member
900 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2010

I agree, the ability to provide structure, but also to be understanding.  Your students will have all kinds of complicated lives and you need to be sensitive to their circumstances, while also preparing them for college and the work force.

For history specifically, I would maybe discussing applying history to their lives and the area in which they live to relate to their background knowledge.

Post # 6
Member
900 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2010

I agree, the ability to provide structure, but also to be understanding.  Your students will have all kinds of complicated lives and you need to be sensitive to their circumstances, while also preparing them for college and the work force.

For history specifically, I would maybe discussing applying history to their lives and the area in which they live to relate to their background knowledge.

Post # 7
Member
79 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: July 2010

To teach in an urban school, or any school really, I think you need to be very reflective. You need to be able to sit down and have a dialogue with yourself about what you’re doing well, what needs to improve, and how your actions affect their actions.

I also think you need to be able to unpack your own biases (which can prove to be very difficult).  Without realizing it, I think sometimes teachers make judgements about students, families, and communities, without really knowing. 

And this is not something to put in the esssay, but you need to have thick skin. I think sometimes students, administrators, and parents forget that we’re human too!

 

Post # 8
Member
3788 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: July 2011

And if ever you should be asked, you are teaching students, not history! I know it sounds silly, but administrators take that phrase seriously, and I do think it is true of the greater attitude one must have. If you teach them a little history in the process of making them more aware, critical thinking citizens, you’ve done your job. Good luck!

Post # 10
Member
461 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2010

I’m also going to be going into a teaching program soon, and I have to do an interview probably next Fall to start next Spring, so this is helpful!  I’m only now starting to get really serious about it or research it because I’m almost finished with my BA in English.  Nice advice, thanks!

Post # 11
Member
465 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2010

Watch the movie “The Freedom Writers”. I’m serious! It will really get you thinking! Good luck 🙂

Post # 13
Member
523 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: April 2011

Although I teach elementary school, I second everything that was mentioned above. You have to be able to create a place that is safe and consistent for kids that have very little of that elsewhere in their lives. Understanding is key, even when things come up that you never dreamed of, or you hear about things in their lives that you can’t comprehend. One of the most important and also most difficult thing is building a relationship with the parents. It was hard for me to learn that I had to go above and beyond what I thought was necessary to make the parents feel comfortable with me and to let them know I was not there to judge their choices or parenting style.

On a personal note, teaching in this type of environment is both fantastic and extraordinarily challenging. It can be mentally and emotionally exhausting. You will face things that no amount of preparation will prepare you for. I had a hard time understanding why my students would have the latest luxury sneakers and video games, but no school supplies and inconsistent medical care. As bkchi said, it forces you to unpack your biases and try to set your middle-class cultural expectations aside at the door. I was also surprised at how distrustful my parents were of me. My school was 100% African American and many of my parents were uncomfortable with the fact that I was white, and were very vocal and sometimes offensive about it.

However, I loved my students and the connections you make while teaching are so rewarding. Teaching is a wonderful profession. No matter what environment you are in, it is so fantastic to teach children and watch them grow.

I moved to a new city and still teach, but no longer work with such a challenging population. There are pros and cons to every environment, but I am happy that I started my career off in such a challenging place because it taught me SO much. Best of luck to you as you pursue your degree. Let me know if I can be of any help.

Post # 14
Member
300 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2010

All excellent advice. I would also add something about using history as a means to inspire/motivate these kids. I’m sure a lot of them come from hard situations and could really relate to some very historical figures. I think helping them see the connection to those important historical people will help motivate them in their own lives as well as connect them to the content being taught. I think teaching them civics (even in a non-civics class) is important. Teach them respect, diplomacy, different roles in governement, etc. Run your classroom like a society. You’re the President, they’re Congress, have a classroom Constitution, etc. It will help them to see real life applications of these sometimes tricky historical things.

Post # 15
Member
873 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: December 1969

I teach ESL in another country, so my classroom issues are a bit different, but I think confidence is an incredibly important skill for any teach to teach.  A lot of behavioural issues can be linked to lack of confidence, so it’s really important to create a safe and supportive environment where students can discover and believe in themselves. 

Post # 16
Member
601 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2010 - Heinz Chapel Ceremony, Museum Reception

Hi Miss Olive! I taught in an urban school for three years, and I miss it every day. Like some of the other posters said, it was unbelievably exhausting and incredibly hard work, but also the most rewarding experience I’ve ever had. I think something you might want to consider is having high expectations of your students and believing that they are capable of the same things any other student in any other environment is capable of.

In an urban school, you will hear a WHOLE lot of other teachers saying, “well, the problem is that these kids just don’t care.” That’s not true. I believe that there is not a single kid anywhere in the world who doesn’t care about whether or not they achieve. The beautiful (and difficult) thing about teaching is that the kids will give back to you what you give to them. If you go in every day and say “these kids don’t care” and don’t make the effort, then they won’t make the effort either. But if you go in every day and teach your butt off and expect great things from them, then they will work their butts off and do things that amaze you. Really.

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