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Re: I need to VENT/Intercity teaching....WHAT TO DO?

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From: Sharon Henneborn (heneborn_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Fri Feb 09 2001 - 07:30:48 PST


Way cool Woody,

We can always count on you to put thing into perspective and point the
way.

As the teacher we need to extract ourselves from the equation. Not
take the kids behavior personally. (hard to do when they are breaking
expensive Prismacolors. I sometimes take out a box of Prismacolors
from my desk and remind them that I have my box so whose pencils are
you breaking?)

Most pre service teachers have no training in this at all. Best
example I had to learn this was from a supervisor in a halfway house
for troubled girls. No matter what ranting they did at her her
response was always something like, "You must be very ... to be
yelling or throwing ... how can I help?" They would quickly turn to
mush.

My stand-by response: "I can see you have something very important to
tell me or that you feel very strongly about this but I can't allow
you to tell me in such a disrespectful way. Please go take the time to
cool down and think through what you need to tell me and we will try
again when you have found the way to tell me respectfully. (this
can't have a tone to it which completely negates the positive intent.)
It takes a while but when the climate starts to change these kids
become so dedicated to you. There is a bond unlike any with the
"white bread"(to use Woodie's) kids. The kids in the school who come
from really good parenting are a delight to teach but they don't
usually form the same kind of bond that the ones Woody and I are
referring to. They have families who provide that bond.

Eventually they find an outlet in the arts to express that emotion and
watch out! Teaching them how to safely express the rage can have far
reaching effect. (besides saving your sanity and allowing you to teach
what you prepared to teach)

This should be 101, 102, & 103 courses in every teacher prep
curriculum. Since this is what we spent much of our time doing you
would think there would be more emphasis in the teacher prep.

At home my roll model was my dad. I would come raging obnoxiously
about something and he would look up from his reading and say,"Cut her
a wide path. She is loaded for BEAR." This always triggered the cool
down needed before we could really get to the problem. He would never
buy into my rage. I could always bait my mother and get her really
riled and upset. He eventually taught her how to react to an
obnoxious teen and my control over my mom was over big time!

We had a section in the town where I teach that most people would not
drive through. I needed to drive through and some young men were
playing ball in the street. I slowed and they continued to play. Then
they stopped and surrounded my car just looking intimidating. I knew
I was in deep stuff. Suddenly one recognized me & these tough guys
turned all sweet and smiling and escorted my car through the
neighborhood. As Woody can also witness once they trust you the sky
will open and the sun will shine in. Then a new kid will enroll and
the contrast will prove how far you have come.

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>From: Woody Duncan <wduncan@kc.rr.com>
  Subject: Re: I need to VENT/Intercity teaching....WHAT TO DO?
>Date: Fri, Feb 9, 2001, 8:26 AM

> Lia,
> Since I grew up in the same inner city environment that
> I teach in, perhaps I can't understand how to teach another
> person to deal with, and enjoy the challenge. My kids come to
> school with all kinds of experiences and pent up feelings that
> most of us were never even aware of. The first thing I would suggest
> is to see their strengths. They have more feelings and emotions
> than most rural and suburban kids. (Sorry Suburbs) Diversity is
> also a really strong point.

First, respect the kids as people.

Second, demand that they perform at a very high level - they
> will amaze you.

Third, Have a sense of humor, you will need it.

Fourth, Don't let the little things get to you. Don't put up with them
> but don't bend little things out of proportion.

Fifth, and finally RELAX,
> so you can enjoy what you do. These kids pick up quickly when you
> are bugged, they feed on it. I have the best students in the world.
> I would not trade my poor inner city school for any white bread, well
> equipped school anywhere.
    Hope this makes sense, Woody in KC

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