The first reading for the "Issues in Urban Education" course I'm taking was an Earl Shorris piece, "In the Hands of the Restless Poor." It took me back to my idealism (which I put aside after long talks with veteran teachers), how much social justice and social equity is linked to education, how humanities was the best choice of study for me, how much I can still share with my students even in the aftermath of the nasty arguments we've had in my classroom. Four months to encourage critical thought, recognizing the freedom to make choices, allowing them to make choices, and promote social consciousness. I've been inspired.
At yoga practice a few weeks ago, our instructor spoke about avidyā - the belief that the root cause of all of our suffering stems from our lack of the "right" knowledge or our inability to see an alternative way of reacting (or not reacting) to our environment.
It all ties into work.
The alternative ways I could have responded differently in situations are endless. But one thing I'm having a hard time with is talking in the class. Who's voice is heard and when and by whom? How do we sound when we speak about different things? Who never speaks? How/do they value my voice? and vice versa. Do they value their own?
It is hard for me to go into my classroom, give them some direction and just release them. It's hard for me to let some of the hurtful words on their tongues float across the room without repercussion. It's hard for me to stop trying to address every single insult, every single foul word. Why can't I accept that they can talk & work at the same time. So much of what they say comes with the growing pains. What they say can be very funny despite the vulgarity. Along with their video game fluency, loyalty to clothing brands, and Soulja Boy dances comes a language code that I don't fully understand. And as much as I want them to have the tools for "making it", I also want to allow them freedom of expression. How do I teach them... different ways to speak. I'm so irritated by the cursing, the yelling, that I don't want to hear anything at all. I've become this censoring nutcase in my own Language Arts classroom!
I am grateful tomorrow is Wednesday. It is my least busy workday of the week. I'm going to set aside time for surya namaskar and reflection. I'm also going to step back and let them go. I don't think it will be so bad, they're not bad. Just loud. We could practice speaking at different volumes. I want so much for my classroom to feel comfortable for everyone.
Tuesday, February 12