Wednesday, July 09, 2003
Well. The weather in Houston is cloudy and there is lightning flashing every couple of minutes. But it is hot. I guess this is pretty typical because this has been the weather here a bunch of the time that I have been here. If it wasn't so hot it would be really cool...ha ha. No, the lightning is beautiful and the thunder is just so incredible. It sounds like a Mac trunk rumbling through the classroom and the kids are so used to it that they hardly notice. They think that it is pretty funny that I am startled by it.
I really like my kids. They are a pretty cool crew. I just wish they knew some English. And I feel so bad for them because I know that with the way the educational system is, they are not ever really going to be successful in school. At least 90% of these kids are not going to graduate from high school. I am learning all of this really depressing stuff about how schools get paid money to have kids in ESL and Special Ed so they really try to not pass them out of it. They keep really advanced kids in ESL and you can't graduate if you are in that program.
We also are having to think about all of these real life senarios that have happened to other TFA teachers. Yesterday we had a session where other teachers gave us examples of things that had gone down in their schools. Here is a sampling:
One teacher had a class of 10th grade ESL students. The entire 10th grade was sent to take the PSAT's. But when the ESL kids got there, the administration told them they should just go home because "ESL kids don't go to college".
One teacher had a student who came to her and told her that her mother told her if she didn't start prostituting she would be kicked out of the house.
Another teacher had a student in her class that would push her all the time and tell her that he was going to kill her when she got out of the classroom. When she sent him to the office, they sent him back to tell her that if he didn't listen to her it was her fault for being ineffective.
Yikes! It is so sad that things are like this. I also found out that pricipals will often take the grades you give the students and change them without ever telling you. It is hard to feel like I can do anything in a system so messed up. I never did want to be "in the trenches" and teaching is sure that. It is making me think that I should go to grad school or something, instead. It is also making me romaticize my time as a bartender.
But on a personal level, I am holding steady. I bought my plane ticket to North Carolia yesterday...it seemed like a permanent step. I needed to do that because I kept thinking, "I could just get a ticket to Portland, instead". But I shouldn't do that. I have invested in this already. And Owen says the beaches are nice in North Carolia...
I had a lesson today that I tried to "spice up" because apparently from all accounts, I am a boring teacher. So I decided to teach compare and contrast by giving the kids apple candy and real apples to compare. I was very excited and I thought that of course kids would dig that. I passed it out and told the kids to taste the food and they stared at me and then at each other. I would say that about 80% of the kids just refused to taste either the candy or the apple. Because they don't speak, I have no idea why they wouldn't eat it. Any ideas? What the hell? I know that I am just not understanding them, but sometimes I feel like they are these weird robot children. Children from all countries like candy and apples, don't they? Was I somehow culturally insensitive? Was there some kind of freakin' apple blight that killed all of these childrens parents in their country or something? Jeez. Throw me a bone.
Nicole, I hope you are having fun in L.A.... ¶ 5:04 PM