Archive for November 3rd, 2009

Interview with CT

*note: responses paraphrased

1. Why did you decide to become a teacher?
Well, I originally went to college with intentions of becoming a lawyer; I was pre-law. I was also involved in college basketball. At some point I decided that I wanted to coach and there was no way I was going to be lawyer and coach. I decided to teach and coach instead. Plus, my dad was a high school government teacher and coach.

2. Was there a push from your parents to be a teacher?
Actually, there was a push from my parents do something different [besides teaching].

3. What subjects have you taught?
Oh everything. World Geography, Government, US History, Sociology…I can’t even remember anymore. I prefer Government.

4. Have you ever had a parent lose their temper in a conference?
Actually, yes. I would like you to witness that today, but at the same time I don’t. I was teaching a unit on the Civil Rights about 15 years ago and would tell stories about growing up in the Roanoke Valley. Stories about the way it was when I was in school. I lived in a predominately white neighborhood, and went to an all white high school. The only contact we had with African Americans was either with maids or athletes. Back in those days, all of the maids were African American, or so it seemed. Anyway, I told the students this and then told the story about how there was one integrated park where all of the boys would meet up to play basketball. At the time, there was an African American mom who wanted her daughter out of my class because she did not want her to be exposed to these sorts of stories. In her argument to the principle, she claimed that because I attended an all white school, I shouldn’t be telling these stories. Let me tell you, she was raging mad. It was the most lunatic thing ever.

5. What are some of the biggest challenges you face with regards to students here at Balfour High School?
Motivation and Drugs. With regards to drugs, predominately Marijuana; some of these kids will grow out of it to be productive members of society; some might just be later than others. Too many of them think that they can take up space and not do anything. They believe in the fairy godmother school of grades. Somehow someone is going to come down, wave a wand, and the grade is going to be what they want it to be.

6. Do you think that the lack of motivation stems from lack of ability [with regards to Joe]?
For him he has to give a great effort; I am concerned he may be lacking in ability. In most cases, this is not the situation; however, it might be in his. Motivation and a lack of ability are definitely intertwined; I am going to have to give more effort in seeing if I can motivate him. My teaching style probably does not work for him. He needs that extra help, the study hall. But he’s got to get here.

7. Do you believe homework is effective?
No, because I used to give it. What it does is provide 0’s because they won’t do it.

8. What is the number one piece of advice you would give to new teachers?
Remain calm, be consistent and firm in your tone, and don’t let the students see you flustered or excited.



In my cohort group for American Schooling we were discussing “deculturalization” and one member directed us to the following NPR special:

NPR: American Indian Boarding Schools Haunt Many

During the 1940’s, Native American tribes who were considered to be the most recently “hostile” were targeted for “civilization” through boarding school programs. The intent of the schooling was to transform Native American children completely, ridding them of their native languages, customs, and even names. A few of these High Schools remain in operation today; however, the circumstances have changed. Their culture is embraced at these facilities and many Native Americans are fighting to keep them open. They risk closure due to a lack of funding.

I was initially shocked to realize that this was occurring during the 1940’s, but after reflecting on what else was occurring at the time period, I remembered that the Japanese were being placed in internment camps, Chinese were denied citizenship, and African Americans were still battling for minimal rights and equality. One cannot deny that injustices occurred, and in order to move towards a post-racial society, we must recognize this in our classrooms.

It is important to challenge student’s beliefs and allow them to recognize their own voices. As teachers, we bring our own culture to the class as well as create one within the classroom. Even something as little as a student’s exposure to an open-minded teacher can make a difference in the way one views another.