In my line of Business…

I’m a seventh grade English teacher at a county school here in Memphis. If I don’t say so myself, we have a great staff-as far as teaching the students goes, I didn’t say anything about world’s greatest coworkers! We had  great state test scores and this was with losing a few teachers before this test was given!  I look forward to going to work most days!

Now I will admit that it takes a special person to teach, but it takes a gifted person to teach middle school-in fact I almost felt that I was teaching outside of my calling when they gave me certain kids, but that’s neither here nor there. I enjoy middle school simply because these kids are at a very impressionable age. They want to be grown, but they want to be kids and I’m grateful for the influence I have over them.
Because I show my students a form of respect, that allows me to build rapport with them and I am able to reach them in ways I didn’t know was possible. Now my school is labeled here in Memphis to be one of those uppity good schools-or to break it down “white schools”, but most people are unaware of how the demographics have changed drastically over the years. My school is over 50% black! (How you like them apples?)

Now that I’ve given you a bit of background knowledge, time to state the business:

I saw on the news one night-I was half asleep so this story may not be completely accurate- that school board officials or principals feel that school principals should know when a student has a record. For example if Rico was locked up for a gun charge because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time (in the car with his boys), when he gets out of jail and attends a school, the principal should be aware of his past. Or is Sharicka and Ebony got into a fight over Jermaine and lil Ebony pulled a blade out from under her tongue and cut 6 month pregnant Sharicka, when she is released from juvenile hall and returns to school-perhaps a different school than before- then the principal should be aware.
*Please be aware that both of these stories have happened within the school systems here*

When I first heard this I thought it was a great idea! At least we know who’s coming through those doors and can’t be blind-sided! Then I experienced a possible reaction from one of my more dumbass, boarderline racist anal, pretentious coworkers. Our grading system allows teachers to read notes about current students. These notes are mostly health concerns. Welllll, we got us a lil Rico (the student’s name has been changed to protect the innocent). When you click on lil Rico’s name, it tells us that he is gang affiliated and was caught participating in gang activities. I could barely unlock the door to my classroom the next morning when she came rushing up to me! You would’ve thought that fool had been a previous teacher at the original East Side High with her free Mr. Clark picket sign! She had typed up a behavioral plan and everything! Asking what do I feel we should do? Oh the words that floated through my mind.

What happens when information about students falls into the wrong hands? My first year of teaching, I never ate in the teacher’s lounge because I didn’t want someone’s opinion of one of my students to alter who I was to him/her. Have you realized how impressionable a coworker’s “advice” can be? Never mind that lil Rico’s situation happened in the 05-06 school year. Never mind the fact that people can change, yes, even children. Never mind that there could have possibly been a teacher like her that misinterpreted lil Rico’s situation.

I make all of my students write weekly essays. This is how I found out that I had students of parents that were in jail, students that were raising siblings, students in abusive homes, and students that were truly the products of their environments. Some things I had to report, but for the most part, it helped me understand that particular child.

I guess what I’m asking is, should students have the type of private confidentiality that adults have? I know that they’re children and knowing about them is what allows us to help them. I understand that privacy was simply a word when we were growing up! But how do you prevent kids from being labeled? Our kids already have so much working against them, who’s going to support them? Isn’t this the type of behavior that encourages a child to turn into what others believe/say about him/her?


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. tcakes
    Sep 06, 2008 @ 21:21:06

    Hey Boo! Welcome!


  2. alisha9
    Sep 06, 2008 @ 22:02:16

    Girl, kids ain’t got no business!!! They ain’t got no privacy!! Anyway. . . that was the moma in me. . . the Principal in me says teachers need to know, but we have to be discrete with the information we have and be careful that we don’t let the rap sheet make us prejudge!


  3. brownsugar5
    Sep 07, 2008 @ 15:51:31

    Tcakes: Thanks for stopping through!

    Alisha: I see what you mean. Some things or people you just can’t stop.


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