The Toronto Star and other publications have touted the success of Ontario's Africentric school system. The problem is, one would expect higher test scores and improved behaviour from students who attend such a school, as the program will self-select parents who care more about their children and are engaged in their education. The fact is, as confirmed in countless studies, that the collapse of the black family within a segment of the black community is the primary reason so many of our children fall through the cracks of society, to be broken against the hard, unbending steel of racism, prejudice, failure and depression. No amount of "specialty schools" can change that.
As much as I am passionate about what I teach, I am more passionate about the people I teach. I am more interested that they are content and happy -- that they are not under undue duress or strain; what is the point of spouting out facts and figures, as important as they might be, if the students' heart is not in it? If their belly is empty?
I found your letter and it does not fall on deaf ears. In fact, it falls on desperate ears. I need you to tell me that I can explain an assignment in three different, well-organized mediums that address all types of learners and that it's okay that there will still be a student who raises his hand and asks, "So what are we supposed to do?"
After moving when I was 16, I was enrolled in a brand new school, close to our new home. My new teacher, Mr. T, was unforgettable. What I remember now as a teacher myself was his smile. His laughter. And I remember that he saw me. There are times in our service as teachers when we set aside the habitual act of doing for the sacred work of being.
I don't know if your face fell. I don't know if inside you crumbled into tiny little pieces. I don't know how many times you've heard those words before. I don't know if you even believed them. But I got the feeling that this might not have been the first time. And in the instant it took to process what just had happened, a million memories flashed through my mind.
Having been held hostage by the whims of the cutest sort of five-year-old juvenile delinquents and lived to tell the tale, I have given some thought to the unlimited number of things I was not taught in teacher training, so as to prepare me for these uncertain days in which I find myself now: as a real teacher.
Imagine your child's favourite teacher. This teacher is known to provide her students with an enriched classroom. Now imagine that this exemplary teacher is a person who subscribes to a religious faith for which she dresses in a particular fashion. Should she remove the outward signs of her faith so that she can keep teaching?
One Toronto school recently has banned the holy trinity of confections: candy, chocolate and pop. From a child's perspective, it can feel like snack-shaming. It almost seems as though the principal is leading a group of lithe bullies, chastising the embarrassed student for unknowingly smuggling a contraband item.
We are fooling ourselves if we think that full-day kindergarten is anything more than a glorified babysitting service. A four- or five-year-old child may benefit from a few hours of schooling each day, but six hours straight? Is this really for the benefit of the child, or the parents and well-paid teaching staff?
I have come to realize that my initial understandings about inclusive education and what it entails were wrong in that they were off-course as to the desired intent of inclusionary teaching. My initial belief was that inclusive education was okay, so long as it was equal. I now realize that inclusion doesn't need to mean pure equality.
To teach is to forever be a part of something bigger. Is to forever be a piece of that sacred puzzle which creates something profound from that which is very small. That is the beauty of the life of a child. To teach is to touch lives. To listen. To lift. To motivate. To compel. To inspire. To encourage. To enrich. And above all, to teach is to use one's life to make a difference.
Since all the blogging world is in a tailspin over Miley Cyrus and her antics on MTV's VMAs, it might be a great time to shift the focus away from Miley and the like. What kids need are adults who are invested in helping them grow their character along with their brain. Am I saying that Miley's family failed her? Not really. But I know this to be true: teachers can reach students and inspire them in ways that celebrity cannot.
Heading back to school after summer vacation can be stressful for kids. A lot can happen to a young person's body over summer vacation. Some kids will experience a growth spurt, while others will need a little time to catch up. Here are a few things you can do to help your kids start the school year off with confidence.