actorartathleteauthorbizcrimecrosspostcustomerservicedirectoredufoodgaminghealthjournalistmedicalmilmodpostmunimusicnewsworthynonprofitotherphilpolretailscispecialisedspecializedtechtourismtravelunique

I'm a high school teacher in the poorest congressional district in the US (literally). AMA.

Apr 13th 2014 by DrippingYellowM • 57 Questions • 407 Points

For proof, I offer my school and Dept. of Education ID, with identifying stuff blacked out: http://postimg.org/image/ewxgm189b/

I teach 11th-grade English. This is my first year at this particular school but not my first teaching in a low-income community.

Q:

What is the hardest resource for your students to afford, and how do you work around that?

A:

A lot of them don't have computers, but luckily, we have a computer lab at the school. They have a lot of access to that, but more than that, I accept most assignments hand-written when necessary. It's a shame, though, because many of them are computer illiterate. I recently took them to the computer lab, asked them to type something with right alignment, and got blank stares. I can't expect them to use computers at home when they don't have them, but if they don't use computers, they're not going to be ready for life after high school.


Q:

I am going to make some educational videos for computer classes we learned in high school and middle school. What are some topics and how can I make learning online more fun?

A:

That's an awesome idea! But kind of a broad question. What, specifically, are they for?


Q:

At least the basics. Like Microsoft office and how to use Google and more. Just stuff I learned in high school that others have not.

A:

Ah. Well, you said it yourself, focus on the basics. What you may take for granted, these kids may not know.


Q:

Wow, I thought every American family had a computer in their home by 2014. This is really sad because without being familiar with computers you can hardly do anything without a high school nice enough to accommodate you.

A:

From a quick Google search, in 2012, 25.2% of American households didn't have the internet. (Didn't find any states on computer ownership.)

It is a tremendous disadvantage and challenge. Luckily, we have a computer lab and a computer class.


Q:

Okay, I dont know how to say this without sounding a bit ignorant. I'm assuming that this school isn't very racially diverse. I see from your identification that you're Caucasian. Is race ever a barrier you encounter? Or is the school a lot more diverse than I think? If it is a barrier, how does it affect your interaction with students, both teaching and as a friend.

A:

It's not an ignorant question. It's a great one.

The school is 97.7% black and Hispanic. I always used to worry about my race being a barrier. So far, I haven't encountered that. Possibly that's because I incorporate race issues into my teaching. I teach Othello and always incorporate non-fiction texts, like articles, dealing with relevant contemporary race issues. These kids are very aware of race.

I also think kids may be used to being taught by white teachers. I suspect they've had white teachers all the way since kindergarten. They're probably not shocked when they walk into my classroom.


Q:

Now I have to ask: What did you think of the adaptations of "Gatsby?" (Any of them.)

A:

The first one I didn't like. It's loyal to the book, in plot. But the director seemed to view it as a love story. He didn't have any sense of the fact that it's Fitzgerald's tale of a society crumbling before his eyes.

On the other hand, I loved the recent one. I went in expecting nothing, because it's a story about the emptiness of a life full of flash without substance, and Baz Luhrmann's films are all flash without substance. But I think he really captured it. I read a review that said something like, "DiCaprio's Gatsby is like an empty champagne glass: Glitzy and shiny but nothing inside." Well ... that's the freaking point. He nailed it.


Q:

Hello! I'm a high school senior in a middle class suburban district. Putting aside the obvious cultural and demographic differences between the school I attend and the school you teach at, I'd like to know if there is a severe case of the government "fixing something that ain't broke."

I see as I'm about to graduate all the changes that are being made. Changes to curriculum, not exposing students to the critical thinking and analytical skills I was fortunate enough to be exposed to in my Honors/AP classes, and most importantly, taking away the independence that teachers have in how they do their jobs.

What are your opinions on Common Core, No Child Left Behind, and other educational reforms being introduced?

A:

Oh my God oh my God yes. The corporate reform movement is a complete disaster. At the end of the day, this is all about profit at the expense of the kids. I could go on about this for hours, but I'm not going to spend too much time on this post, because EVERYTHING is wrong with this reform movement, and I can't cover everything in a few paragraphs.


Q:

So do you think most teachers disagree with common core?

A:

I can only speak from what I've seen, but I've met almost no teachers who like the Common Core. There is one survey that suggests teachers like the Common Core, but it was published by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the very same people who wrote and pushed the Common Core aggressively (and profit from it).


Q:

I am a teacher and I like the common core. I think the way it's being used to assess is atrocious and it's disgusting how Pearson is making such a profit off it. There are 1st grade teachers at my school who spend 9 weeks out of the year testing. That's 1/4 of the year where they are not instructing, just doing one on one tests. I think it should have been scaffolded better in its implementation (i.e. just implement it with kindergarten year 1, then K-1 year 2, then K-2 year 3 and so on). But, I do think it supports critical thinking and promotes metacognition.

A:

See, my feeling about this is that everything that CCSS does, I can do with CCSS gone. For example, I love using informational text in the classroom. I don't need Common Core to tell me to do so. Nor do I think that what I do is right for every teacher, every school, every classroom.


Q:

You and all teachers can, but that doesn't mean they will without CC telling them and their administrations that they have to.

A:

Well, they shouldn't have to! Every school operates differently. Every teacher teaches differently. Every student learns differently. What works for me won't work elsewhere.


Q:

Thanks for making a difference.

A:

:)


Q:

Not to sound crass, but what is the graduation rate like at your school?

A:

No need to worry about sounding crass. That's a serious concern.

In New York, there are two types of diplomas: Regents and non-Regents. The Regents is harder to get, and the non-Regents is much harder to make use of in colleges and the job market. Our grad rates are 83% Regents, 94% overall.


Q:

I'd say for being the poorest congressional district you guys are probably way ahead of the curve.

A:

In numbers, to some extent. The most recent report card from the city gave us a 69.9, which is .1 shy of an A rating. I don't think those ratings mean ... well ... anything, because they don't measure the right things. But graduation rate compared to similar populations is a factor.


Q:

What do you mean by " don't measure the right things?" Sounds interesting, please elaborate.

A:

Well, they measure a lot of stuff that has feck all to do with education, like test scores. Standardized tests are among the worst measures of student learning there is. Other things it measures are suspension rates. A school is bad if it suspends a lot of students? Really? We get a few students with emotional disturbances and our "grade" can topple.


Q:

Why do you think standardized tests are bad, and how would you change it? Sorry for drilling you with questions, you just seem like you know your stuff! :)

A:

No worries.

A number of reasons. One is in the name: Standardized. There is no standard school, standard classroom, standard teacher, standard student. Everybody learns in different ways and at different paces. We teach our kids all differently, so why should everyone in a school, let alone a state, be judged on the same test?

Second, tests just aren't that useful as a measure of learning. Projects and other assessments are so much more effective. What if the student just doesn't sleep well the night before? Or gets depressed when it rains?

Third, they don't measure growth, just a benchmark. If I have a student who comes in and scores a 5 on a standardized test, and I get him up to a 60, that's amazing work! But he still fails the test, so I and the school get penalized.

All of these things wouldn't be that big of a deal if the tests were just used to gather data for study as opposed to high stakes. Teachers have lost their jobs and schools have been shut down over low test scores.


Q:

i guess, just in my opinion and of course after taking that "what kind of learner are you blah blah test" i always imagined teaching as this:

Teachers are set as teachers for the learning style they are most adept with. and students are divided into these learning styles for classes. everything is still relatively basic, however, courses are designed for these learning styles. in addition there are classes simply for combining these skills. that is, knowing that we are not capable of everything on our own, but together with different skill sets we can design/create/master most anything. i guess, my phrasing is kind of off, but i hope you get what I mean. And I hope to see THIS or something similar become the future of education rather than a common core set up :(

A:

That's an interesting concept. Classes divided based on learning style. I'd have to think more about that.


Q:

I have to disagree with your third point (even though I think testing has gotten excessive). If states use a growth model, tests can show growth. In my state, kids are grouped with others of similar results. For instance, if I scored in the proficient range in fourth grade math, my fifth grade math scores will be compared with all other fifth graders who scored in the proficient range in fourth grade math. This academic growth has more emphasis in my state than pure achievement.

A:

There are valid uses of standardized tests in terms of measuring progress. Grouping students is one. Funding schools is not one, nor is teachers' job security.


Q:

I'm studying to be a teacher in Australia. I was just wondering if funding in the US is the same as over here, in the sense that the higher scores on standardised testing is directly correlated to how much funding a school gets. So if school A gets 97% on the tests and school B gets 42%, then school A will get better funding.

A:

That's become the way it is. How absurd that those who need funding the most are denied it. What kind of idiotic system.


Q:

Does your district have Zero Tolerance policies? Do you feel they help or hurt the school environment?

A:

Thank goodness we don't have Zero Tolerance. What an awful concept. Some people have disabilities or emotional disturbances. Are we saying they are not entitled to an education because of these challenges in their lives? I wouldn't want to live in a society that tosses thousands of people by the wayside because they happen to be a challenge.


Q:

You sound like a fantastic teacher, and I wish you and your kids every success.

A:

:)


Q:

Which pieces of literature have you had the most positive reactions towards from students? What about most negative?

A:

My kids all adore The Great Gatsby, largely because of the way I teach it. I find most teachers teach it as a love story, but there is so much more going on.

I once did a unit on The Things They Carried, which drew more snores than anything. I love it, but I think it's a bit too non-traditional for high school. Lesson learned the hard way.


Q:

Last year in my junior AP Lit class, we were taught both those books and the reaction was exactly the same. The school I go to is one of the richest public schools in the country, so I think it must be the universal high schooler's reaction regardless of background. (I really liked TTTC though.)

A:

I had a few kids who liked TTTC. Not many.

From what I understand, The Great Gatsby is one of those cliche books that high schoolers hate, so it excites me to hear that another class liked it too!

This year, after the first three chapters, I once found a piece of paper on my desk titled, "People that don't want to read the Great Gatsby," with about 13 signatures on it. At the bottom, there was a drawing of a pig, labelled, "Teacher." However, by the end, most of the kids on the list loved it.


Q:

Do you ever use Thug Notes youtube channel? The link is to The Great Gatsby episode (3.48).

A:

I probably will now! I once used the sketch where Key and Peele see Othello.


Q:

How do you motivate your students to do their work and put forth their best effort when they lack the conformity that a student from a wealthier district might have?

A:

This is a great question, with no simple answer! Every human being is different, so it varies case to case. I like to show the stats of how much a high school dropout, on average, makes, compared to a HS grad and a college grad. Also, I like to tell them about a recent McDonald's policy that you need a HS diploma or get one within three years of being hired. "You can't flip burgers without a high school degree, folks."


Q:

So, which neighborhood in the Bronx do you teach in?

A:

The south.


Q:

Are you originally from NYC?

A:

Staten Island.


Q:

Do you have any matt damons in your school, i.e. really poor, incredibly smart kids? EDIT: part two... How do you keep your gifted students engaged, I imagine it is not easy.

A:

Perhaps not THAT genius, but I have some very bright ones. And yes, it's a challenge, but I often divide my classes into ability-level groups and give them different activities. Often, I end my classes with questions that are really targeted at only the brightest students, so they have their chance to be challenged.


Q:

Do they want to go to college or are they a bit wary of it. Do you help them out with that process?

A:

The majority of them want to go to college, though some will go to community college first. Our 12th-grade team does most of the immediate college prep stuff, though I help a little with college essays. My big thing is the SAT.


Q:

Are ASD students mainstreamed in your district?

A:

Depends on severity. My particular school has no self-contained classrooms. I have some ASD kids but none with severe behaviors. In NYC in general, there is more and more mainstreaming. If you're an idealist, you believe the city when it says it is doing so because kids do better with their mainstream peers. Cynics say it's about saving money. Either way, it's the wave of the future.


Q:

[deleted]

A:

Mainstreaming as a general principle is, I think, good. In the past, schools have used self-contained classrooms as an excuse to get rid of "problem" kids. Instead, we should desegregate as much as possible. With a few modifications, many students with disabilities can learn in a mainstream environment, and it's always better not to segregate people.

Of course, there are extreme cases. Some kids do need special attention.


Q:

My grandmother worked with special needs students her entire life, and my aunt (her adopted daughter) is autistic. The idea that mainstreaming integration is overall a good idea is severely wrong. It is sometimes a good idea and sometimes a terrible one. So many factors come into play, here. What is the average size of a class in the school, for example? Will the teacher have time, resources, and ability to focus on a special needs student while still making sure other students get the attention they need, as well? Is the school in question known for bad cliquing, exclusion, and bullying? What courses are to be integrated? PE? Is the school high risk for emergency situations, such as earthquakes, violence, chemical spills, fires? How large is the building itself? Two stories? Three? Blanket integration neglects to take into consideration the nuances of a situation, just like standardized testing. What is good for Rebecca might not be good for Spencer, and vice versa.

A:

You're correct, of course. Every student is his/her own unique case. I only mean to say that WHERE POSSIBLE, mainstreaming is a good idea.


Q:

Thanks for the advice. I've seen firsthand that teachers who try to be too authoritarian in a classroom end up losing all respect or ability to manage their classroom.

As for the charter school, I'm not really taking sides one way or another about that though I know they can be politically volatile. I've never been to a charter but I did spend some time in a small private school and the difference in quality between education there and in public high school was night and day. I'm interning there to get a better idea for how a successful charter operates because I think it is valuable to see different strategies for education.

I want to eventually work as an education reformer and so I'm mostly interested in what good teaching and good administrative practices look like - regardless of origin. I think it is silly that public and charter are at war with each other instead of learning from each other.

A:

The trouble with charter schools is not so much the schools themselves but what they do to public schools. They like to brag about their high test scores, but what they're doing is not providing a better education. They're pushing out "difficult" students. Charters extensively deny that they do this, but research repeatedly proves otherwise. The population of students with IEPs and ELLs in Success Academy schools is substantially lower than in public schools, and attrition rates are higher. Students with disabilities who attend charter school kindergarten are statistically almost all gone by third grade.

Moreover, charter schools encroach on public school space. In a recent co-location, a new Success Academy school pushed PS 123 into fewer classrooms than it needs. The school was already overcrowded and now, the school that's actually teaching the students in most need is being crammed and having its already limited resources taken. Why? Profit. Charter schools can never actually offer a valid education so long as they are motivated by profit. They are trying to make money off our kids. That's why public schools work (and the stats you've seen about our "failing" public school system are based on a mathematical error from a Reagan admin report.)


Q:

Have you seen the Jeff Bliss video? If you haven't, here's a link.

http://youtu.be/8jsUj4DqWfU

Have you had a lot of students that really want to learn like this, or do they tend to not care and be hard to get through to? And are there a lot of teachers that you know of that don't care about the students and warrant this kind of rant?

A:

There are a lot of unfair stereotypes about inner city students. Most of them want to learn.

There are a lot of unfair stereotypes about teachers, too. Most of them want to teach.

In both cases, it's just beneficial to those in power to have you believe that poor kids and teachers are lazy.


Q:

What percentage of your school is free lunch?

A:

100% free or reduced.


Q:

I am trying to get a job in a poor charter school in Fl. any tips for new teachers? I am white and the students will be black/hispanic. This is my first job so anything will be helpful.

A:

First bit of advice: Don't go to a charter school. Not just for political reasons. You'll be treated better as a public school employee.

But in terms of actual pedagogy: Don't assume that your race will be a barrier, but don't ignore it either. Acknowledge the issue of race in the lives of these kids. Don't pussyfoot around it. Depending on what subject you teach, you can bring in a lot of text and information on race issues and engage the kids tremendously.


Q:

What is it about teaching in the poorest congressional district in the US that gives you a sense of achievement?

If there was one thing you'd wish kids came into your class already knowing what would it be?

A:

I'd rather teach where I do than in a suburb. Let me say that every child needs a good teacher, but the kids in suburbs or in Manhattan are going to be fine regardless. If they don't have a good teacher, mom and dad will get them a $200/hr tutor. (No exaggeration, I've seen Craigslist ads.) I try to do something with my life that, well, matters. I know that's really pretentious, but hey, I'm pretentious.

I wish they knew more basic grammar and such. In 11th grade, I want to focus on things like reasoning skills, and some of them come to me writing run-on sentences. So I spend some time teaching these things when I wish I could spend more time on higher-order thinking.


Q:

Hey! I'm a soon-to-be-PhD-dropout in English, and I'm planning to get certified to teach HS English. I am especially interested in working in low-income communities. I know this experience will be very different from teaching in the Universities where I have been for the last 4 years. I do have some questions for you, so I hope you are still around!

  1. How much autonomy do you have over which readings/novels/stories/poems you teach? In another question, you mentioned how you include discussions of race in your class. The text you mention is Othello. I'm not opposed to the inclusion of some Shakespeare, but I do worry that especially in a classroom of mostly non-white students and a white teacher that teaching predominantly white authors from the traditional cannon has the potential to reinforce existing power structures and inequalities. Is this something you discuss or something you can work around? For example, is there some guideline that you teach at least one work by Shakespeare in a year, or that you teach Othello specifically, or that you teach a certain number of works from certain time periods/genres/authors? I think Othello is an important text, but it wouldn't be my first choice to start a discussion about race with most non-white students. I'd start with Frederick Douglass, Ralph Ellison, Octavia Bulter, Junot Diaz, Tony Morrison, Leslie Marmon Silko... How have your discussions of Othello gone?

  2. Have you had luck with your somewhat laid-back teaching methods? Given my experience and my personality, I am apt to treat students like adults. I hate the authoritarian bent of some teachers and administrators who push this kind of teaching.

This was a really great AMA; thanks for taking the time to do it.

A:

What great questions! Sorry for taking so long to get to them.

  1. In my school, I have basically full autonomy, but that's not everyone's experience. And you actually touch on one of my own personal concerns, that I teach primarily white male authors. So your concern is a very real and serious one. I have a year-plan that focuses on The Great Gatsby and Othello that I did this year, and it works remarkably well, but there are certainly a lot of minority authors that can and should be included.

  2. I'll warn you that there is no way you're not going to lose your temper and yell. Even the best, most experienced teachers lose their temper. None of us are exceptions. That said, calm has an amazing power. I have a classroom management technique that I call, "I'll wait." If even one person in my classroom is talking when I am, I just stop and say, "I'll wait," or, "I won't talk over people." When I first started doing this, I'd say it with my voice raised, and it had some effect. A fellow teacher told me to try it a different way. Now, I usually start by LOWERING my voice, to just below their volume, then a little quieter, and a little quieter, to show them what I'm expecting, until I'm whispering. It works exceptionally well. But every teacher is different. You'll have to find your technique and style.


Q:

Do you think it is odd we teach students chemistry yet do not have a single class that deals with taxes, personal finance (how credit cards work, mortgages, budgeting, ect), labor law, as well as management skills? In all seriousness, how is this not seen as a failure of our system? It is an utter joke.

A:

I definitely think we need some sort of "life skills" classes, which include all those things. I also think we should include vocational training for all students, not just separating the kids we think are too smart from the kids we think are too dumb.

But I'm also not the person to say we need to remove my least favorite class in order to do so. I don't know exactly where it would fit in the curriculum.


Q:

What is the craziest thing that has happened at the school where you teach?

A:

This one wasn't me personally, but it's still a favorite of mine. A 10th grader gets into some rage, so she picks up a desk and threatens to throw it at another student. Meantime, the teacher has to hold the desk (he's stronger than her) to prevent her from actually doing it. While he does this, he obviously can't leave to get security, so, not really thinking, he says to the kid nearest the door, whom we shall call D, to go get security. Now, D is a bit spacey and odd, so when he leaves, another student follows him and tells him not to bother, so D just ... walks back into the room! The teacher says, "D, what are you doing?"

"H told me not to."

"Are you insane? Look what's happening here. Go and get security!"


Q:

Do you teach LD students??

A:

I have a couple in an inclusion class. The special ed teacher in the room does a lot of one-on-one work with them.


Q:

That works out to $5,000 per student. However, in 2011 NY spent the most in the nation per student, at over $19,000. I find it hard to believe that there's that much disparity across school districts. What's up?

A:

The 19K figure refers to NY State as a whole, not just the city. Also, it includes spending that's not in school budgets, such as spending by the Dept. of Education directly.


Q:

So I might be late to the party, but just in case, here it is.

I am currently studying to be a history teacher (my end game is to be a college professor but I am planning to teach high school while working on my higher degrees) here in mississippi which is also fairly low income across the board.

I was wondering if you knew anything I should keep in mind when I begin teaching in a few years. Specifically, how does one meet the curriculum while at the same time making sure the majority of their students understand and retain the material?

A:

It's a little different in ELA and history because we have less of a specific curriculum. We have skills we need to cover, but not specific material. For me, though, I use differentiation. You can give different kids different tasks, and have some getting deeper than others, as opposed to getting ahead. In other words, my group of high-acheivers is writing an essay arguing whether Othello's character development over the course of the play is the result of internal low self-esteem or external factors, while my low-acheivers are merely identifying the character development. I'm sure this can be modified for a social studies classroom.


Q:

What is your work culture like?

I've had some experiences with teaching Shakespeare in High Schools and in summer camps to Middle School students and I've enjoyed both a lot. There aren't many sustainable career paths for theatre artists and I'm seriously considering getting my teaching certificate, but having worked a government job in the past I'm afraid of working in another heavily bureaucratic and political workplace. How much can bureaucracy, office politics, and helicopter parenting limit your ability to do your job?

A:

I don't really deal with helicopter parenting. I more often deal with the opposite -- absent parents. As for workplace politics, right now in schools, that's a challenge. With what's going on in education reform right now, it's become a hotbed of politics and scandal as people push new instructional techniques and tests on you and tell you you'll be rated on these as a teacher, even when the people who told you to do these things have never taught a day in their lives. That said, the culture of your individual school is huge. I've been fortunate enough to have a principal and assistant principal that support us all tremendously. There are ways to avoid the politics. What do I do? I just teach. I leave all the other stuff to the politicians. When my kids are in the classroom, I just teach.


Q:

Thanks for doing this AMA! I have two questions that aren't really related to each other. Sorry if they've been asked before.

  1. What subjects are the most difficult to teach due to your lack of materials/ students' lack of computers?

  2. What do you think could change in the curriculum to better prepare high school students for the real world? (Classes, common core, etc)

A:
  1. Professional writing. I can teach them the actual content, but translating that into word processors on computers is a challenge. Some of them don't even know how to change the text alignment.

  2. I think less of a focus on careers and more a focus on humanity. There is nothing wrong with preparing students for professional skills, but creativity and imagination and self-reflection are all just as important, and America's schools tend to ignore them because a) we have a belief that schools are job preparation, and b) creativity and self-reflection aren't job skills. I dispute both.


Q:

Do you notice any correlation between student behavior and their ethnicity?

A:

Nope. None whatsoever. I have students of all races and ethnicities with all sorts of behaviors, positive and negative.


Q:

Cool. I always like to ask, because some teachers are determined that ethnic students are a plague while others see a different side where everybody has the potential for good or bad

A:

I've never met a teacher with such racist feelings. I mean, I'm sure they exist, but I can't imagine why anyone would be a teacher if they didn't believe in the growth potential of young people.


Q:

Theyre teachers who used to be bright eyed and ready to conquer the world, but their joy has been diminished by years of dealing with bad parenting, broken families, etc.

A:

That's sad. I've known a lot of jaded teachers, but I also think it's less common than stereotypes would have us believe. I know a lot of teachers who've been at it for years and still believe in their work.


Q:

How many weapons have you confiscated, if any, from your students?

A:

None, as of yet. Sometimes I wonder if these kids need weapons. Desks and chairs are enough!


Q:

Whaa?! No shurikens? But seriously, what made you want to become a teacher?

A:

A few things. One, in all honesty, I like being the center of attention. :P But also, I wanted to do something that was community service, and public sector. And I love literature, so ... it made sense. I actually did journalism for a few years and didn't enjoy it.


Q:

Do you still rock the neck beard? And if so how are the kids receiving it?

A:

Nah, I keep it much cleaner. That was taken on a day I had no idea I was going to get my ID photo taken. Luckily, I use the school ID a lot more.


Q:

[deleted]

A:

By cheating. Look at the scoreboard, cholo!


Q:

Do you discourage anything that would seem, somewhat "unnecessary" to discourage from your students, according to people from outside your district?

Something they wouldn't have thought there was a problem about, until they saw it for themselves?

A:

I'm not sure I understand the question...


Q:

Sorry that was poorly phrased.

Are there people who have preconceptions about the school you work in that you later found out to be true, and had to confront?

A:

Ah, much better. :)

More the opposite, actually. I internalized a lot of stereotypes about low-income schools. They're dangerous. The kids won't listen to you. Most of their parents don't care. In reality, these things apply to only a handful of students. I do think teaching where I do is a unique challenge compared to the suburbs, but it's not the hellhole that movies would have you believe.


Q:

well I can't help but hope your right.

What does being in the poorest congressional district mean? Is it like a rundown school in the ghetto or something?

A:

The neighborhood is very run-down. The school is in decent condition.


Q:

is there much diversity in your school? in both teachers and students

A:

If you define diversity as a lot of minorities, then yes. We have a 97.7% Hispanic and black population. I have no white students at all.


Q:

I realize that I'm a day late to the party, and I don't know if you'll still check this thing, but I just wanted to say that I'm an undergraduate student who is pursuing English secondary education. You're an absolute inspiration to me. I would really like to teach in a poor, urban district some day, and honestly, sometimes it just gets scary, overwhelming, and discouraging. Reading through your replies has renewed hope in me. People like you are truly heroes.

Also, I'm the most excited about teaching Gatsby one day, so I love that you say that your students all come away loving it. I think that has a lot to do with how it's taught, so kudos to you.

Sorry for such a long and late comment. I could go on for paragraphs, but I just wanted to say thank you for what you do for those students and for inspiring a fellow (future) English teacher.

A:

Aw, this comment made me happy. Glad I could help. :)


Q:

Thank you for doing this ama. What do you think of the specialized high school debacle going on in New York?

A:

Do you mean charter schools? I find them to be a travesty. They push out students who need the most help in order to keep their test scores high, while taking resources from traditional public schools and leaving our most vulnerable young people without the help they need.

Or did you mean something else by "specialized high school"? I'm not aware of any other debacle.