The MEGnitude of Change

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Dec 05 2012

Untapped questions

“I’ve heard about people loving their high school years, calling it the best years of their lives, but I’ve never felt that way about mine.”

When Ms. B walks down the hallway during first block, we all hold our breath. She calls herself the Angel of Death, the bearer of bad news. In her hands, she carries white slips of paper, asking us to miss out on our planning periods to cover other classes. In a flash, our forty-five minutes of alone time vanishes & is replaced with a classroom full of kids. So, yesterday, when Ms. B knocked on my door to hand me one of these slips, I grinned and beared it. Well, there goes my coffee trip.

I’ve started using these class covers as a more than just a chance to add $7.50 an hour to my paycheck — instead, I use them to ask kids the questions I’ve always had on my mind. I have a (somewhat) captive audience — why not use it?

My go-to question of the moment is this: what is one thing John Marshall needs to be more successful, as a school? Which is when I heard the following response: “I’ve heard about people loving their high school years, calling it the best years of their lives, but I’ve never felt that way about mine.”

The students talked about the high turnover of teachers, their desire to simply get out of high school, and what it would take to change that mentality — for themselves, at least. I listened to some of these students, and I felt a strange sense of calm. While I was sad that they felt so removed from their environment, I also felt hope. These students were starting to see the same things I have seen for the past few weeks. I am not alone — they want to feel empowered by their high school experience, too.

There are so many cool initiatives at my school, but I’m seeing that there’s a desire for more. How to get it started? I’m not sure — but we are starting to form a community of people who want to invest time in doing something important.

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