Friday, September 24, 2010

Teaching Hope: Engagement

Story number forty-eight caught my attention by making me think about the line between wanting to get to know your students and knowing too much. The teacher in this particular story believed in the privacy of his students. If they didn’t want him to read a particular journal entry, he skipped right over it. When Alli asked him to read one of her entries, he was excited to finally know more about her. The entry only lead to more questions so the teacher continued to dig. This seemed to annoy the student a little, but I suppose she did bring it on herself. And eventually, she wanted the teacher to read the entire journal. This is where the red flags went up for me. Although this was a school journal, it is hard to say what a student might write about. If I were in this teacher’s shoes, I would probably be curious as well, but I think I would be more scared than anything. You never really know what you might find out about a student. I think the teacher puts it very well when he says, “I wished I hadn’t pressed to find out about Alli’s parents” (Gruwell, 112). I feel like this is the type of position I would find myself in if this were to happen to me. As much as it might hurt to learn about the struggles your students endure on a daily basis, I suppose it might be a good idea to know what’s going on, at least to a certain extent.

Story number fifty-six made me laugh out loud. The classroom is certainly not a place for politics of any kind, except maybe in a social studies class come November. When that particular girl brought up the question about gay marriage, I’m not sure what I would have done, but I’m not sure I liked the way this teacher approached the question. Turning it back on her, was his first mistake. She clearly had something to say about it, or she wouldn’t be bringing it up. Maybe he could have explained how class time shouldn’t be spent discussing politics. If there had been any questioning people in the room at the time, I can’t imagine how they must have felt once Natasha shared her mind. His second mistake came with making her name the Ten Commandments. She certainly deserved it, but it wasn’t a good idea to call out the student in front of the whole class like that. His overall message behind his technique was certainly interesting though. I agree that students should be able to back up what they believe instead of just repeating what someone else believes.

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