Congress is still on their summer break and I am concluding my second week of teaching ninth and tenth grade students.
“I have one hundred and seventy-two student“, the Spanish teacher shares but in English.
“Oh, wow that must be nice,” the AP English teacher chuckles, “I have a hundred and ninety students.”
I sit and say nothing. I did the math. I figured things out. Right now I am around one hundred and sixty-five students. That is fifteen students less than last school year. Fifteen less student is a dream come true.
Our school district’s Superintendent visited our classrooms, you know so he can keep in touch with the commoners. The principal escorted him from one classroom to another. Stopping to see if students are learning.
“Oh when he came into my room I told him that my classes are way too big and that I had over thirty-eight kids in most of my classes. And guess what he said next…
Oh I hope he said, “we will cap your classes at thirty just give us one week to balance the numbers and if necessary hire more teachers.”
But instead he said, “Well thats great for me.” Meaning our school district gets money for each new student.
“But you don’t get more money. These students are not new to our district. ” The exchange was exasperating .
It is obvious our school district’s well paid superintendent is clearly OUT OF TOUCH and obviously has a limited personality. He equates large class size as “great”. But who actually benefits from large classes? The students? The community? The instructor? Who? Who can thrive –while learning new skills– when there are literally not enough desks or space in the classroom?
Now excuse me as I attempt to memorize 168 student names. Yikes!
I sat down today having lunch with my friends and they were completely clueless about the horrific situation in Ferguson, Missouri! They had no idea that a young man was shot in the middle of the street and left to die. They had no idea that civil unrest was growing in the community nor did they know that the Ferguson Police Department escalated the entire situation.
I am outraged and helpless to do anything about the ongoing injustices that the police continue to exercise against fellow human beings. It wasn’t that long ago I witnessed the brutality of the New York police department as they threatened Occupy Wall Street protesters. I cringed when I witnessed Berkeley school police brutalize young women and men. Even last night Berkeley students protested the escalating militarization of our countries’ police force and guess what happened next?
According to the Daily Californian
“Protesters in Berkeley, many of whom were UC Berkeley students, chanted “hands up, don’t shoot” and “no justice, no peace, fuck the police.” Crowds marched north on Telegraph Avenue and through Downtown Berkeley before the dispersal order was announced on the edge of campus.
“According to a police alert sent to community members, Berkeley police officers were notified at 8:49 p.m. by Oakland authorities that a “large group involved in a violent demonstration” was making its way into Berkeley.
Yeah imagine how scary a bunch of educated middle class kids in hoodies must be. And then imagine how scary it must be to see two young black men walking down the middle of a Missouri street must be.
With each new piece of information provided to the public from the Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson the more disturbed I become.
The police department refused to release any pertinent information they are legally bound to provide. Instead they choose to escalate the threat of violence by playing dress up bad asses wearing fatigues to show the country and the world their penultimate level of stupidity and brutality. A bunch of neaderthals running around with their knuckles dragging and armed with automatic weaponry protecting Democracy.
Footnote: The Ferguson Police Chief still confused why his leadership is no longer warranted and the Missouri Highway Patrol will handle protecting the peace in Ferguson, Missouri until further notice.
It happened. I went “Back to School” this past Monday. That’s right I said, “Back to School” and to be more specific my first day was on August 11th with all my new students. And yes we were promised smaller class sizes and no that hasn’t happened. Surprise.
The main challenge is to create an environment that is truly engaging and enriching. This is not easy since there are over a 180 students that come daily to my classroom with their own set of problems or not; but lets face it being a teenager can be difficult.
It is day number three and I already had two students tell me they suffer from high anxiety and cannot participate in class presentations. Another student who shared with me she needs to sit near the board because she is deaf in one ear. I said, “huh?” I had another student (who looks like she’s 25 ) constantly waving her hand in class to ask a questions.
“Um, I have two questions…”
“Oh, ask me your second question first,” I say. The class laughs together and suddenly I realize that I am enjoying myself. Its August, I’m teaching, in a classroom filled with teenagers and I am really having a meaningful experience even though I do feel overwhelmed by the logistics of it all. You know like memorizing 180 names. I don’t know how much room is left in my brain. Ultimately, I want to challenge these kids and help them grow intellectually as well as become strong critical thinkers that care about other people.
Day #4 Today after school one young freshmen confided in me, “You’re my favorite teacher. You’re the only one that smiles.” Hm.