A first-year teacher documents the journey
For something to chew on over Thanksgiving, check out this video by a teacher in the Walbrook high school complex about her first year on the job.
Made by a Teach for America teacher for a graduate class at Hopkins, the video shows the crowded halls at Walbrook two minutes, five minutes, eight minutes after the bell. It gives some stark statistics about the school (though it doesn't say which school in the Walbrook campus it's talking about): an average ninth-grade attendance rate of 60 percent, an average first-quarter report card grade of 60.6. It poses the question, "How do you create a productive classroom in a school that is not focused on student achievement?"
In my favorite segment, the teacher is talking to her students about why they need to pass the High School Assessments to graduate. She compares getting a high school diploma with running a mile and passing the tests (which measure material kids should be learning long before senior year) with walking a mile. "If you can't pass the test where you only have to walk a mile," she asks, "is it fair for you to get the sheet of paper that says you can run a mile?"
This is clearly a teacher who comes to care about her students. She flashes their pictures while stating their accomplishments and career aspirations and ends the video with a shot of her dancing in the hall with one of them. But will she stick it out after her two-year commitment to Teach for America is over? Only time will tell.
UPDATE: The teacher emailed to say she did not intend for people other than her family and friends to see the video, and therefore she's made it a private link on YouTube. It's too bad, because I thought it was both compassionate and insightful, but I understand that many teachers are reluctant to go public about their experiences at school. My apologies to Voice for School Truth and anyone else who tried unsuccessfully to use the link.