inner city schools

Discussion in 'New Teachers Archives' started by mandy1221, Aug 2, 2002.

  1. mandy1221

    mandy1221 Rookie

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    Aug 2, 2002

    Hello! I was just wondering in anyone in this forum has any experience working in an inner city school? I just took a second grade position in the inner city and I have no prior experience in this kind of environment. I guess I am just looking for some pointers or any information that will make the adjustment go smoothly. Thank you in advance for any info! :)
    ~Mandy
     
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  3. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Aug 2, 2002

    Hi Mandy...I taught inner city for 15 yrs...I loved the experience...here are my best tips...don't be afraid to ask for help, everyone has been thru whatever you will experience in the inner city...be very structured and firm... have high expectations. Talk to your kids and parents and get them on your side...use humor when you can. Good luck!!!
    Kristin
     
  4. Maxine

    Maxine Companion

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    Aug 4, 2002

    Hi, Mandy,
    A bit of insight may help you to organize your lessons. Many students from low income homes do not have the background of Standard English spoken to them nor the experience of stories and nursery rhymes we think of as basic. Their frame of reference does not have these "given" associations. Reading aloud to them will be an oportunity to introduce them to the sounds and stories of Standard English. I found that spelling was a problem when the student does not have English as a first language and the attempts to spell phonetically are hindered by what the students hear and the strange ways English has of spelling. The more they hear and relate to mainstream language, the better their testing will be. So many of our workbooks and textboooks take for granted that children know what a picket fence "gate" looks like when they get to the letter "G," for example.
    As Kristin suggested, the reliability of routines you establish will be an important souce of stability for them. When they can trust you to be fair and settle disputes in a consistent way, they will be more likely to listen and show respect. Power to them is often who is bigger and who has the loudest voice. They need you to show them that the authority you have is for their benefit, not to diminish them.
     
  5. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Aug 5, 2002

    Hi Mandy, Having taught in an inner city school for 15 years- there's much to share.
    1. The intensity of your relationships will never be matched. Prepare to love them deeply.
    2. There seemed to be a high level of adhd-that will never be addressed by guardians. read everything you can and plan to have lots of active lessons.
    3. These children need a great deal of soul enrichment- lots of art, lots of music, plays.
    4. You will be under great pressure to perform to tests. Listen to the teachers that have energy and heart. Don't succumb to the pressure of test scores that suck the heart from you and the class.
    5. The 2 most important folks in the school are the secretaries and the janitors. Suck up to them.
    6. There is often a lot of negativism from teachers. Take it with a grain of salt.
    7. Don't come in with lots of pre-conceived notions. Be open. Don't criticize. keep your mouth shut and listen a lot. These teachers have been on the 'front line' and there is a grace that you won't understand until you've been there. Don't judge.
    8. Read "Courage to Teach" by Parker Palmer. Go get it now. Don't be discouraged. This is tough, but there is no greater reward.
    9. Everything everything everything is based on relationship. Love them with your whole being.
    10. Remember this isn't really about students. Be honest enough to realize this is about you- what do you need, want? Then create that- get it. I need to be honored, respected and needed. I need a place to be creative. That's also, coincidentally, a place that is good for kids.
    11. be a benevolent dictator- this ain't no democracy. you be the woman! children will feel safe and secure.
    12. Love them. Just love them.
     
  6. AngelaS

    AngelaS Cohort

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    Aug 7, 2002

    These replies are very beautiful and inspiring- they should apply to all children, even those not in the city.

    I want to add, on a less poetic note to establish a good report/ repoire (sp?) with parents. If they don't know you and you piss them off later into the school year, watch out. I was cussed out three time my first two years of teaching because a child has sand in his hair or dirt on her clothes (mind you these are four-year-old HeadStart children).

    I had to be very, very firm with them about my teaching philosophy and checked all of my procedures with my principal in case they were questioned by parents. For example, the three before me rule led to what would have been a heated confrontation (if I allowed it) because the child went home and said I wouldn't help her open her milk.

    These parents will likely not be involved in their child's homework but might beat the child if you report a behavior problem. (Be specific in what you want the parent to do, such as discuss the issue). Few will show up for conferences or field trips, but the whole extended family will be there on graduation. Get on a first name basis with them so that you can talk openly and honestly with them on these issues.

    Don't get discouraged because you seem to be the only one who cares about the kids' education. You are appreciated by the parents. One parent last year never showed up for anything, or answered my phone calls, sent in any supplies, etc. But his dad came up to me at graduation and thanked me with a tear in his eye for all I had done for his son, and said he had noticed so much growth in his child in very specific areas I never thought he had paid attention to.

    When you talk to the parents, skip the educational jargon ("cooperative learning") but don't talk down to them (try saying 'group work'). DON'T ASSUME ANYTHING. Johnny may not know how to read because mom can't read, either. One student of mine couldn't learn basic shapes- when I convinced his mom to come in for a conference, I had to draw the shapes and label them for her so she could help him- she didn't know them herself. That's an extreme, though, and you won't run into too many like that.

    Also, you will have at least one and probably four or five kids whose parent (note I did not pluralize that word because most will be single parents or a grandparent because neither mom nor dad is ready for the job yet) is extremely involved and supportive.

    These parents may even volunteer in the classroom and take education very seriously. One parent in my class became a cafeteria worker so she could stay involved in the school and get to know me better- she came in every afternoon for two hours and helped out. Don't tell anyone, but I let her use my address to get her kids out of that school system and into the one where I live nearby because she spoke so earnestly of doing better for her kids. (Her area was one of the roughest and lost almost the whole staff, principal included, every year. Her children were not going to learn what they needed to in that school, and she was determined to break the cycle of poverty. She is succeeding.)

    Even the most involved parent will likely have limited resources so don't assign things that involve materials other than pencil and paper unless you loan the supplies out. You will have to stress the responsibility of returning the supplies with the students, and they will uphold this.

    Don't complain because you will have enough to fill an hour-long conversation everyday, and there's no point to it. Tell yourself that you took the job, you're going to be successful, your students will be successful, and that's all that matters. Don't feel indignant at the things that you learn about how your students live.

    Be firm and consistent- these children will love you for it even more than children from other home environments. They will behave differently than you imagined if you are not from that background and you will have to handle those behaviors in ways that make sense to them. They may pre-judge you based on appearances so be prepared to show them that you are tough and don't put up with the b.s. they will attempt to get away in the beginning, and when they are behaving, also answer their unspoken assumption that you don't really care about them by getting to know them as individuals and support them emotionally because they may not have ever experienced it. If they do get it for the first time through you, they will work their butts off to please you.

    Sorry this is so long, and I hope it's been helpful. I don't mean to stereotype or be negative but these are all things no one ever told me (hence the negative experiences I had to go through and just shared with you). Once I figured these things out, and a lot of it I didn't until the second year and continue to learn, things went a lot better. I have been the only person to ever talk to, listen to, and teach to some of these kids, and I know that will make a permanent impression on their development. What you do will matter and mean much more to some of these kids than it would to those from stable, middle-class homes. You can do it.
     
  7. mandy1221

    mandy1221 Rookie

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    Aug 8, 2002

    I just want to thank all of the people that responded to this thread. You have all given me wonderful advice! It is nice to get suggestions from people who have been working in the type of conditions that I will be! Many Thanks!
    Mandy
     
  8. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Aug 9, 2002


    Mandy,
    Hello! I taught my first year of school in an inner city this past school year. I used the three F's method Be firm, Be friendly to parents, and be fair. Try very hard to build a relationship with parents and let your students know that you will contact their parents if neccessary. You can do it and you will have fun. Be prepared to spend some of your own money.
     

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