Well, my friends, I have some sad news for you. For those of you who were hoping against hope that Senor Newbie would rise victorious and unscathed above the melee …get out the tissues. Apparently those children have eaten his lunch. And I’m not talking about merely taking one of his chocolate chip cookies while he wasn’t looking (Burris!)…no sirree, Bob. I’m talking about walking up behind him, whapping him on the head…delivering a nasty kidney punch…snatching the whole damn lunch bag (including the cookies), and mowing through it while giving him the nonstop stink-eye. These kids are heartless when they sense fear. (Picture a classroom-sized aquarium, where a truckload of piranhas have just been dumped in on an unsuspecting puppy that was already out of his element in that murky water. Bad news.) If you want to survive, you have to walk in, ready to “bow up” if some kid decides he’s running this show.
I’ve given this some serious thought, and have decided the blame rests with our higher education system. Having worked in the ivory tower for several years, I’ve experienced the insulation that comes with being at the top of the educational food chain. The real world doesn’t matter. It’s all about maintaining our research status.
This is great, in theory…but when you’re preparing people to be teachers, woo wheee, you better have a grasp on what the “real world” is like. Don’t let them wander through their entire program with limited exposure to a classroom. And when they do venture into a classroom, for pete’s sake, send them into an URBAN school so they truly see what awaits them. Granted, there are some...not many, but some....viable experiences to be gained in a white-bread school. Being a product of a white-bread school, I can attest to this. But if you’re a brand-new, the-diploma-ink-ain't-dry, college graduate, you’re probably going to want to live in the city…and trust me, my friend there are NO white-bread schools in the “city”. (Como se dice “white flight”?)
Before you tag my blog as objectionable because you think I’m all about the white people…hear me out. There is a definite, different skillset required to teach in an urban school. You have to not only know your content area (thanks to Dubya and Nickleby)…but be able to deliver said content while being a social worker (many of your kids live in poverty and homework is not always a viable option considering how many are working to keep a roof over the family’s heads), a comedian (respect is gained by being able to “battle” the kids’ comebacks…if you establish that you’re the funniest person in the room, you’re in.), and last, but not least, a hardass. You have to show those children (and yes, they are still children) who exactly is in charge. You need to be solid on what your expectations are and be committed to not accepting less. Granted, you will quickly learn that some hills are not worth dying on. But others are. (I personally hate the use of the n-word in my class and go POSTAL when a kid uses it no matter the context.) And once the kids figure out who exactly is running this show (and it ain’t them!)…the learning can commence.
This may be a stretch here, but I don’t think Senor Newbie’s institution of higher learning required him to have Urban School 1301 prior to certification. Sadly, he got signed up for the Micromester when he signed on to teach sophomore English at mi escuela. Unfortunately, he’s opting to take the WP, rather than stick in there and show those chillun who exactly is in charge! I’m concerned that the next person who signs on is going to have a truly rough row to hoe, considering they’ve already run off one person....stay tuned.