Yea For Us!

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4 thoughts on “Yea For Us!”

  1. And every time we put the students first and help them get through the day with some compassion and perhaps a laugh or two, we are giving them reasons to stay. It is so sad how the 4%er grind just stomps the humanity out of us–those of us who came through it well enough to want to become language teachers. Here is a Latin teacher’s request for help in dealing with a student who suffered a concussion, and is not allowed to read or concentrate in class:

    “Does anyone have any suggestions for ways to teach participles without relying on too much text? (She’s not supposed to concentrate on anything that’s too difficult, so I feel that participles are probably a wash, poor thing, but still…)”

    I would respond by saying that, from the perspective of acquisition, everything this teacher is doing and has done is a wash. We are fortunate that we know better, and can teach in a way that will not further concuss our poor kids’ brains.

    1. Thanks for the encouragement. Teaching at a low performing, segregated, rural-ish school in Atlanta this year has really humbled me in many ways – not all of which I like. We are on the front lines of the dropout problem and the casualties are numerous and grotesque. Many of our students drop out – or stay in high school for 5-6 years (some of our seniors are nearing their 20s – in my opinion is inappropriate for them to be in the same school as 14 year olds – but that’s the way it’s done around here). Even the teachers that teach “recovery classes” (where students just have to show up, tick boxes online, and receive credit for core courses they have failed) complain that the students don’t show up and don’t do the work. Some people are surprised that I have gotten students to understand (and in some cases speak) Latin to the extent that they do, because most of the students and way too many of the teachers here don’t want to be here. The school buses and teacher’s cars show up between 8 and 8:30 and everybody is gone by 4:15. There is almost no camaraderie beyond what I try hard to cultivate, and very little extracurricular life that anybody is aware of (communication is not our school’s strong point – even sports aren’t heavily advertised). It has been taxing to deal with such negativity on a daily basis (especially after not really having a summer break).

      At times I have really doubted what I am doing (TCI in Latin). I realize that if an individual student’s will to learn the language isn’t there – it doesn’t matter how much fun I make it – the student will simply not learn the language. Right now I am at a crossroads – sometimes I fear that I am making it too easy for kids that aren’t really engaging to pass. On the other hand, I fear that I am a part of the dropout problem if I don’t make it easy enough for some of these kids. Our administration is usually overwhelmed, doesn’t plan anything in advance (sometimes we can’t even ring the bells right – let alone try to plan a day of testing that still has some kind of balanced instruction, and never follows up on initiatives the way they say they will. Lately, given the chaos at my school and broader anti-teacher, anti-labor sentiment at the district level, I have frequently entertained thoughts that this is too much work for too little

      Just for perspective: on day 1 in minute 1, I had a few kids in each period with their head down already trying to sleep in class. I have worked hard all year to get some of these kids to “do their work” as the discourse goes in our school and “buy in” as the saying goes in our world. They have been tiring lately of having to engage every day and learn, and now I feel the same way as spring break approaches.

      I feel hopeless for my school sometimes; I need some hope that what I am doing is worth at least an iota of social justice in some of these kids’ lives.

      Sorry – I need to rant during my prep today. I need to feel that treating these students with love rather than with harshness isn’t a dead end.

  2. Daniel I just wrote a very long comment about what you wrote above. It was about my own experience in Myrtle Beach High School, SC from 1988 to 1995. The comment was rejected by that dumb ass security rule that often blows comments away in this software.

    The comment described very much what you are going through now. Same thing. My love for my students. Neighbor Lane in Racepath – a shoot zone. Crack cocaine in the other Myrtle Beach ghetto.

    How many of my students had grown up less than two miles from the beach but had never seen the ocean. How completely without hope they were. I almost went down with them in my work to try to reach them in those horrible pre-Krashen days. And I don’t mean down to the beach.

    I am almost grateful that that comment wasn’t pubished in this space, Daniel. What I wrote just now can really only be discussed in person. Let’s make a date to do that when we get a chance.

    I have often noticed that the most honest comments get blown away here by the software. It’s telling me not to share stuff that is too personal.

    I can only say that in that comment I revealed much of my pain from teaching kids who came out of slavery. You reveal much pain in your own comment above, and I resonated with it. But I was too honest. So it got blown away by the honesty police.

    But here’s the gist of what I said – get the hell out of there.

    1. email me off list ben @ Thanks so much! Given that I had no intellectual freedom last year, the first part of this year I was so elated just to to be able to do TCI that I’ve been able until pretty recently to deflect all the negativity off of me. It has just been wearing on me lately, and I hope that the spring break and later summer rejuvenates me. I like the idea of working to better these kids lives in some way (I’ve always been into left wing/social justice types of causes), but the environment some of my kids’ attitudes to learning the language (even the smart ones who do their work) has really been getting to me lately. Today we had 2 kids hauled off in handcuffs at our “Stop the Violence” rally. Insane. My dad is a principal in East LA and even he thinks this stuff is too much.

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