Yesterday, Methods class had a visitor speak that currently teaches in an extremely low-income area. For an hour and fifteen minutes, she described her teaching experience to us, and much of what she told us amazed me.
When I was a freshman and Intro to Teaching, I observed a high school English class in Oelrichs, South Dakota. Only a few students in the classrooms I observed were not Native American, and the environment was similar to that which she described. Students didn’t want to learn, or they wanted to make it seem that way. They were extremely distracted and disrespectful towards the teacher and each other. A student even walked out of class while I was observing. Needless to say, I was relieved when my ten hours were completed. Just a freshman, I was extremely overwhelmed by that experience. Prior to attending Chadron State College, all of my education occurred in the same building, and the behavior was nothing like what I observed. Students at my previous school wouldn’t have dreamed of acting the way these students were. This experience was very eye-opening for me. Not every school is like my small, traditional school, and that’s something I was going to have to accept if I wanted to be a teacher.
People in class asked our guest some pretty tough questions. How do you get students to read? What are your goals for your students if they probably won’t go to college, and after graduation, they will be more focused on getting enough food than leading a literate life? These are really tough questions. If students come to school hungry and are constantly faced with home life issues, how can they see that reading is important? All of the thinking and talking we have done in this class, we have been assuming our students will be present and turn work in. How are teachers supposed to plan for that or teach students who have been present less than half the time?