Tuesday June 15, 2010 | Teaching in Charlotte’s Urban Schools

June 14, 2010 at 10:48 am | Posted in Coming Up | 3 Comments

We’ll meet some Charlotte teachers who were part of a recent local documentary that covered the struggles, frustrations, and also triumphs of working with school students in Charlotte’s urban schools.  The documentary, called Souls of Our Teachers, was made to increase understanding that good public schools in our region are in the best interest of every citizen who lives here. We’ll talk about what inspires these teachers to work with troubled kids, and discuss the good, the bad, and the truly inspiring sides of teaching in a high-poverty school.
Aaron Pomis
– Science Teacher, KIPP School in Charlotte
Shanna Rae – 5th Grade Teacher, Billingsville Elementary in Charlotte
Dr. Maria Hanlin – Executive Director, Mecklenburg Ministries

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  1. Until recently I was an educator at a local museum. During the years I was there I had the privilege to teach classes from all the CMS schools in K thru 4. I and my coworkers found that there are several low income schools which were always impressive. The students were knowledgeable, enthusiastic and engaged as were the teachers. They were a delight to teach. It seemed that the principals, some of whom accompanied their classes, were the key.

    There were also some high income schools, including private ones, whose students were not nearly as well behaved and attentive. Those schools have higher standardized test scores because of the education levels of their parents.

    The public gets a very misleading picture of our low income schools because of our reliance on testing to evaluate their quality.

  2. 1. Dr. Ben Carson in his book “Gifted Hands” tells about being the dumbest kid in the 5th grade. Because of the wisdom of his illiterate mother and educators/librarian who took interest in him, he grew up to be a famous neurosurgeon.

    Since all parents do not have this wisdom or high expectations Dr. Carson’s mother had, we need more mentors for students.

    2. Educate or incarcerate – THANK YOU for bringing this out. The public needs to realize the cost of shortchanging the education of our children.

    3. This last year I had the privilege of working with students in an alternative school. It was a most rewarding experience. In our small class setting, we are able to help students develop skills for coping and learning. It was fantastic to see 7 of our students graduate and just as rewarding to see the positive changes in behavior/learning for our other students.

    4. All kids are smart. Some have been put down so much that they believe they can’t. Their poor behavior is a defense mechanism.

    5. NO, the public has the wrong idea about what happens in classrooms – at least most of the classrooms I know. Our kids are not out of control. Of course, the expectations of the principal in the school and the support given to educators by the administration make the difference!

    Thanks for this wonderful program. I hope the public is listening!

  3. Bernie: I observed the same phenomenon in Baltimore and Philadelphia museum settings when I helped design and refine “structured curricular experiences.” We called it the “making the most of scarce opportunity” effect (M&M effect for short). The teaching staffs were partially responsible for the best outcomes in their anticipatory preparation, but comparative parental attitudes played a role also. I began to compensate in my consultation, telling educational directors and staff not to expect so much from or work so hard with privileged groups, to force them to meet you halfway. Better off parents are frequently spoiled or jaded, expecting to humiliate entertainers and facilitators,and their children cop the same attitude. Dignity and withholding is the only appropriate defense. Now I’ve seen some inner city rowdies where the teachers and aides had written them off, so I respect the teacher who means business in corralling the lost sheep, but the most appalling scenario is when even the conceited teachers (from elite schools) lead their students in humiliating museum staff. I imagine this is why foreigners hosting American tourists prepare for the worst. I once asked the son of a CEO why he led the vandalizing of our most precious equipment and he replied, “This outdated crap was put here for the losers.” If you substitute the word learners for losers he was exactly correct. We did our best working with less. He became successful in an energy utility, and he’s still wrecking the hopes of us loser/learners.

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