Friday, April 15, 2011

Finishing Strong!

It's finally Friday and we're ready for the weekend.  I've been introspective lately as I begin the process of "disengaging" from SMG.  I'm also trying to "engage" myself in the mindset of a middle school teacher again.  Before I abandon my "Champions" and my cozy, little Locker Room, I want to reflect on the lessons I've learned here - the things that I will take with me as I move back into my "comfort zone."  Bear with me as I type out my thoughts...

I never expected to care this much about other people's children.  I never expected the depth of despair and frustration I feel toward to process of "changing" the circumstances in the inner city.  The problems run deep and strong.  The walls of defensiveness  are thick.  Bringing change here must involve the entire community.  I believe I have made progress with several of my students, but I think most of them will revert back to what their environment requires of them - to fight, to be tough, to be funny.  Academic skills are not highly valued in general in their communities.  It's about being "cool."

One of my students told me yesterday that his big sister is dating a member of the "Bloods" gang.  Incredible that I am no longer shocked by the things I hear.  Something that HAS surprised me however, is how captivated they have been with the literature I've shared with them.  We've read about 15 novels together this year, but their favorites have been "The Watsons Go To Birmingham" and "Bud, Not Buddy."  I think they can truly relate to the families and characters in these books.  Just yesterday, I shared a story about a young girl who escaped from a gang.  They were enthralled.  They understood.  They've seen and heard so much more than their impressionable minds are capable of processing.  This concerns me greatly.  My children have lost their innocence and it's damaging more than just them.  It's a societal problem.  They struggle with empathy and personal choice.  When caught in the act of misconduct, it's "but HE was doing it too!"  The illusion of fairness is important for respect to be earned.  External controls dominate our school.  This has been a major concern since I arrived here.  How and when will my children learn about personal choice and SELF control if not in our school?

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