Thursday, April 14, 2011

It's a lightening bolt of hearts.

I want to talk about Ty, a student who was defiant from the moment he walked into my classroom. He came to class high. I made him focus. He tried to talk the entire class period. I made him move. He yelled at me. I kept him after class. I set up a meeting with his father. His father never showed. These interactions, seemingly meaningless, demonstrated my desire for Ty to be successful and he began to rise to my high expectations. Ty came to class on time and wasn't even high most days. He actually let me see how smart he was and really caught on to inequalities.

(Example of Inequality Ty can solve: -3x + 8 < 17)

The only inequality he's going to see now will be from inside his jail cell... for at least 4 years longer than the white kid.

(Example of Inequality Ty won't have to solve to understand: 10 > 6)

They were both caught stealing while possessing drugs. My second hour informed me that it's just different if you're black. I felt as helpless as when a kid asked me if I could braid his fro. My skills are severely lacking in many capacities. Luckily, one of those lacking skills is crying in public.

I have such a fleeting amount of time with my students. Today I was organizing archived folders of class work. I threw away 15 students' folders because I know I'll never see the people they belong to again due to expulsion, drop outs, or jail sentencing.

Watching this Oklahoma storm makes me realize what a brief flash I will be in most of these students lives. The most pressing issue on my mind is the approach I can take to really change trajectories for my students and help them find their path to the life they deserve.

I want to make my flash last longer.

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