Practical Theory - The Origin
The Scholars in CyberEnglish
ToDaY's MeNu - Ted

Friday, March 19, 2010

What my scholars have done

I'm very proud of what my scholars have done this year.

In 1974 my teaching career began in competitive private schools in New England. I moved to NYC and worked in a very good high school for 18 years where I began my work with technology. After a few years of working for a district as a technology staff developer, and then helped start a technology oriented high school. The scholars in these schools were high caliber. Four years ago I moved to teach in a transfer school. This is very different kind of school from those I have spent the past 30 years. We are constantly getting new scholars who have been forced out of another school, have returned to school after jail, pregnancy, travel, dropping out or any other anomaly which finds them in this difficult situation. They come to us with some high school credit, but not enough to graduate. We help them complete the credits they need to graduate. We don't have grades, we have classes. We are the last stop. That being said, teaching here can be a challenging endeavor, because these scholars have a varying degree of skills or not. The challenge I face is trying to get my scholars into a consistent college ready mode. They may have the skills to do that work, but they haven't demonstrated it in for a prolonged period. Starting to get them to school everyday is our first challenge. Then getting them to all their classes is the next challenge. Getting them to stay in class all period, to work bell to bell, and to produce are the challenges in each class every day. Our scholars have developed some very bad habits and we need to reverse that by helping them develop good habits. That is the purpose of a school like ours, we work with scholars that other schools have released or given up on. This is why working here is so rewarding, because when we see our scholars on graduation day, we know, they know they have overcome some incredible obstacles to get to graduation day.

The focus for me is to have them produce. I work with computers and the scholars make webpages. Using a different environment from which they are familiar is useful in creating good habits. It is a new environment and they have no experience with failure in this environment of technology. Last fall three scholars, Jessica, Seneya, and Edwin took it to another level. Not all scholars took advantage of this opportunity to display their skills. They are all at different levels in the same class. Some are amazed that they could do this much like Dekia, Francis, Raphael, Nelson while others start out well and then falter and fall back into old bad habits. This is not a class that does things in the same old same old way.

This spring has begun very strongly as the scholars worked very hard on a civil rights project. Their products were very good. Juliell, Brengi, Jubair, Dijana, Kremlys, Karyna, Kenrich, Stephanie, Seneya. These are the links of the scholars who got it. There are still those who struggle as you can see on the link to the scholars with the spring scholar and the fall scholars.

What my scholars have done was to develop better habits and to so some things that they haven't done in a long time or have ever done. In conversation with colleagues, we struggle over the need for a rigorous curriculum. I suggest we need to start at their level and then help them rise at their pace and in their time. The traditional schooling these scholars have had has failed them and hasn't worked. We know this because they are in our school. So using technology changes the entire environment of school. When they walk into the computer lab, many ask if this is an English class. It is sort of like starting with a clean slate. Our rigor has many different facets than does the rigorous classes I had in those previous schools I taught in. I am proud of what my scholars have done at this school.

All the teachers in this school should receive merit pay, because they do miraculous work with scholars other teachers couldn't, but our test scores wouldn't tell you that.

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