I am thrilled about what happened to me today. I can truly say that God works in mysterious ways. In search of an area to observe, I ended up visiting a boutique and salon that I always thought was too expensive for me. I h
had planned to visit a church. I had been talking to a friend who was a member of a Pentecostal church. He was very excited about taking me with him for a visit. Unfortunately, our conversation took place on Thursday, and their services are on Wednesdays, so I was not going to have a report ready for this week.
I decided to visit “(name)”, a hair salon and boutique. The building is so unique that every time I drove by there, money came to my mind. I knew this was a place I could never afford, so I never even stop to visit the place. As I started inside the store, I immediately felt out of place. A lady approached me and asked me if she could help me with something. I quickly told her that I was just looking. She looked at me without saying another word. I looked around. I couldn’t wait to look at the prices to the clothes and jewelry.
The store not only carried clothes and jewelry, but it was also a hair salon. There was a section for men, one for women, and even one for children.. I didn’t want to walk through the area without telling the lady that I was actually on a mission, so I told her what I needed to do. She was very nice about it and welcomed me to see the entire area. As I started to look at some of the prices, I heard someone come from behind and said, “That right there would fit you perfect sweetie.” I turned around, a black lady appeared from some where and started talking to me. I said. “Thank you for your kindness, but I don’t think I can afford this suit.” The lady laughed and said, “sure you can.” In the process of our conversation, she told me that this particular store was a blessing to her. After talking for awhile, I realized that she was the owner of the store. I told her about my mission and that I was actually looking for a church to attend, but was unable to attend one. The lady laughed and said, “Did you say you were looking for a church?“ and I said “Yes ma’am, but you know how it is. Services are usually on Wednesdays.“ The lady called on all the employees to come meet me. I felt so embarrassed, because everyone’s attention was on me. She told the employees that I was looking for a church. She smiled and said, “This is a church sweetie. You see, we the people are the church. You were looking for a church and you found one. Come here let me show you around.” I was surprised to find that this place actually had a prayer room.
It was then when she started to tell me that God had sent me there because God was telling her that I needed someone to pray for me. Everyone was so nice to me. I loved the entire place, but the prayer area was the one I loved the most. Her employees were all of different cultures. Each attended different churches, but they had united to work for the praise of God. They were all there to do there job and while doing their work, they were making people feel better and comforting them through conversation. They never missed an opportunity to invite customers to go to the prayer room when in need of prayer. We talked about the different people that visited their place and routinely came back.
I saw many people in and out of “(name)”. We discussed about how equal we all are. By the time I left that place, I realized how blessed I was to have gone there for my observation. I even forgot about the clothes I was wearing. I was so comfortable that I didn’t want to leave. Betty, the black lady was such a unique lady. The name to that store was the perfect name. What an experience. She said you could call her and ask her about the wonderful observation “(name)” had provided for me. (number). I always thought this store was only for rich people. I never thought of it as having something rich to give me.
My observation took place in a funeral service very different than one that would take place in my own church. A very dear friend’s husband was killed in an auto accident. He left behind his wife, three children, both parents, two brothers, and a sister. He was a very young man of only 27 years old. Needless to say, his entire family, circle of friends and acquaintances were very upset.
All funerals are difficult, but I expected this one to be the worst ever. I was greatly mistaken. Funerals as I know them are very solemn and quiet. This funeral was extremely solemn to begin with. His young family sat in the front, just as they would in a protestant funeral. They were accompanied by his parents, siblings, and then, of course, the rest of his family. Again, this was all very familiar.
Now things begin to get a little uncomfortable. The priest begins speaking in Spanish. After a short time has past, the priest begins to speak in English. He goes back and forth from Spanish to English for the entire service. After the priest finished speaking, several people from the audience spoke to us about the deceased. Again, they spoke in Spanish and then in English. As the speakers went on, the people in attendance wept and cheered. Depending on what was being said by the speaker. If it was something happy the speaker had to say about the deceased, some of the crowd would cheer. If there was sadness in the story, of course, weeping followed. At the end of the funeral, the young man’s father raised his guitar up over his head and began to play festive “Spanish” music, as they all danced out of the building. WOW!! What a great idea to celebrate someone being able to move on to be with their Father in heaven. I was completely struck by this.
This behavior was very different from what I am accustomed to. I was definitely the minority in the crowd, not only by skin color, but by religion and language. I seemed to be the only one in attendance that was not Catholic. I was probably the only one in the building that was not able to fluently speak both Spanish and English. I am sure this was not the case, but it certainly seemed that way at the time. I really gained an understanding about being “outside my comfort zone” during this funeral. I have come to respect other people’s beliefs more than I might once have.
This experience helped me to imagine what it must be like for a new student to come into a new classroom, especially one with special needs or who speaks a different language. The latter is much more likely to happen in our part of the country. This experience really helped me to realize how easy and how often judgments are made on each and every person. Sometimes Hispanic children are passed off as being “slow” or “unmotivated” by those who make judgments. I have always tried to have a different frame of mind, but now, after seeing so many people in one service speak two languages, I will have no problem understanding that the Hispanic children who come to my class are very capable of learning whatever they want to.
My daughter’s dad lives in (city) and is a DJ. Over Labor Day Weekend, I took (daughter) to visit him. Her thrill of the weekend was to help her dad DJ at a party for a teenager at (name) Pueblo. How I got roped into following them, I do not know! But, I am glad that I went, as I now have an experience to write about. First of all, the Pueblo is about 20 miles north of (town), and with John’s great driving directions, I got lost. I was able to see the whole town, though. I saw quite a few people heading to the local nightlife establishments! While lost, I drove by the cultural arts center and decided to have a look. I was definitely a minority! I learned a few things about the (name) Pueblo that I did not know. They are one of the most traditional of the Tewa speaking pueblos despite contact with outside cultures for must of its history. Tewa (also known as Tano) is one of three Kiowa-Tanoan languages spoken by the Pueblo people of (state). Though these languages are closely related, speakers of one cannot fully understand speakers of another (similar to German and English speakers). There are about 4000 speakers of the three languages in the American Southwest today. Archaeologists say that the Pueblo existed before 1200 AD.
After leaving the cultural center, I drove to the actual pueblo, and there were many cars there. I did not stop, but kept looking for the house I was supposed to be at. Finally, I found it! (Daughter) & her dad had the DJ stuff set up outside, and were playing some music, but to my surprise nobody was really there. I was sure he had told me that the party was from 8pm to 12am. It was about 8:30 pm. Well, I sat down and enjoyed the music, and the breath taking views of the nearby mesas. I could not see (name) Rock from where we were, but the views were great all the same. Another thing I learned on my jaunt is that (name) Pueblo owns and operates (name) Casino. In a little bit, the girl’s mother came out and told John that they were at the Pueblo eating, and would be showing up soon. I continued enjoying the scenery! Around 9pm John asked again if the party was going to start, and the girl’s mother told him that people would be showing up soon. Then, she told him “you are on Indian time now, it’s different”. I was thinking, “Why pay for a DJ from 8pm if the party isn’t going to start until after 9”? This was one of those cultural barriers that the book had talked about. We sometimes perceive and portray Indian people as slow and/or not smart…probably because of this very thing. We make them “other” and a cultural difference about time becomes a cultural border and makes one culture look upon another with scorn…all because some people live by the clock and some people do not. Our fast-paced rat race is probably just as abhorrent to their culture! My thoughts about paying for the DJ were not even relevant…it was not any of my business! I find the Indian culture so much more peaceful than our own, and now I know why! I would fit in much better among a less time-driven culture!
People started showing up around 9:15, and though I expected that maybe some of the music would be different from other parties I had been to, wrongfully assuming that they would have more of their own cultural music played. The music was much the same. Urban hip-hop had the teen crowd dancing, country and oldies had the grown-ups dancing! The party was pretty fun, though I was definitely an outsider so sat most of the time near the table where my daughter was helping her dad DJ. I observed most of the night; because of course I could not pry my daughter away before almost midnight…she was working! The similarities in the interactions between the people seemed just about the same as at any other party I have been to. The older people wanted their music played and the youngsters wanted theirs played! The adults won out…without very much outcry from the youngsters, so I assume that the music choices of the older people were to their liking also!
One thing I definitely learned is that Pueblo people are as diverse as European cultures. I had previously assumed that they were all similar, but that is a misconception. They have differences like Scottish from Irish from German from Dutch. They also have different dialects of the same or similar languages that make it hard for them to understand each other. Sometimes I think that Europeans can categorize themselves as Dutch, Italian, or Scottish and people understand that though similar these cultures have vast differences. But, in other cultures like American Indian, African, or Latin people do not understand that though sometimes similar, these cultures have fast differences. Peruvian has vast differences from Puerto Rican, West Indian has vast differences from Kenyan, and Navajo has vast differences from Pueblo culture. Chapter Two in Banks says it best “when we essentialize culture, assuming that all persons in a given social category are culturally similar and focusing on the unitary cultures of various Others without reflecting on our own cultures and their diversity, we open a Pandora’s box of opportunity for negative attribution.” This statement is so true. If only we could learn to live amongst each other in peace!
I decided to attend a local meeting of Narcotics Anonymous for this observation. This experience reaffirmed everything that I have been reading about and know that I need to be aware of in my interactions with all people. I worked as Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor for eight years before I began teaching, so I am aware of how the Twelve Step of Narcotics Anonymous works and have attended self-help meetings with the adolescents that I worked with; but this was the first time that I attended a community meeting under the capacity of an observer and my observations and thoughts were definitely different.
I arrive at the meeting about ten minutes early. An older gentleman is there making coffee and setting up some folding chairs around the room. He asks me if I am new to the program. I briefly explain my situation to him and he says that’s good, that I need to pay attention to the twelve traditions when they are read at the beginning of the meeting, and that I should let everyone know why I am here.
As I sit waiting for more people to arrive I scan the room. The walls are lined with motivational posters, two huge posters have the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Narcotics Anonymous we on one wall. A few more people arrive and introduce themselves by first name only. I later found out that anonymity is key, that’s why everyone is known by their first name only. Everyone keeps asking me how long I had been clean. The closer it gets to 8pm the more people I see arrive, but they haven’t come into the building. This is a smoke free meeting and they are “getting their nicotine” before the meeting. Sure enough, right at 8 o’clock everyone herds in and takes a seat at the table.
The gentleman chairing the meeting (John) hands certain people paper that contain the different parts of the beginning ceremony. John is dressed in a large baggy sweat suit with a “doo rag” on his head. He has four gold teeth. Not the type of guy that would stop and ask for directions anywhere. I take note of all the people in the room; there are ten men, four women, and two toddlers. I later learn that the small children belong to the man chairing the meeting. He and his wife are both in recovery from alcohol and drug use. One man (Sam) continually gets up to get a cup of coffee and fills everyone else’s cup. He is nervous and can not sit still very long. Another man (Luis) is covered in tattoos and is dressed in the attire of a local motorcycle gang. Next to Luis is a man dressed in clean pressed semi-casual attire. He (Dan) is well groomed and looks like someone that could work at a bank. One of the women appears to not want o be here and constantly shifts around in her chair and stares off into space. Another woman (Janice) has the look of a woman ready to wrestle the Devil and has one inch long blood red nails ready for the battle. Her clothes are extremely tight and revealing.
After all the formalities are over the topic of “gratitude” is chosen for discussion by all. The chairman speaks first. John discusses his inability to find anything to be grateful for the first 30 days that he was sober. John was the epitome of poverty; he was in treatment, CPS had custody of his children, he had no job, no family support, and his wife was still out in the streets using drugs. John states that he was told to be grateful for what he did have; he was alive, not in jail, healthy, able to work, and had the possibility of getting his children back. It took a mean counselor telling him to get off of his “pity pot” and do something about it. John was able to take the one resource he had, the treatment program, and begin building. John’s casual-register discourse pattern allows you to empathize with him. John is now drug free for fifteen months, considers himself blessed, and is very grateful for all he has on a daily basis.
Luis speaks next and discusses some problems that he is having with his job. He states that he came in frustrated and ready to either drink a beer and/or beat up his boss. Hearing John speak he had changed his mind and is now grateful that he has a job to gripe about. I later learn that Luis has been drug free for five years, is attending college, and is a member of a Christian motorcycle club where he chairs the annual “Toys for Tots” campaign. I imagine how Luis would be treated in a public high school today. Would be in advance classes? Would he be monitored so closely that he would end up in an alternative discipline setting after just a few days? Would he even be allowed in school? It saddens me to think that Luis probably wouldn’t even be given a chance to try advanced classes simply based on the way he looks.
Dan is the next to speak. He has been drug free for 90 days. He works as a car salesman and lives in an extended stay hotel. Dan struggles with wanting his previous life back. Through his drug use he has lost his wife and son. Dan is negative about his ability to stay drug free and getting his “old life” back. When Dan speaks I have trouble seeing him going to a drug dealer’s house trading his wedding ring for cocaine. Even though Dan looks more successful than everyone else in the room he is one of the least. The only resources that I see Dan possessing right now are physical, mental, and knowledge of hidden rules of poverty and middle class. Dan’s use of the formal-register of discourse pattern does not mask his pain. What frustrates me about Dan is the fact the he would be treated the best of all the others if they were in high school today. Would he be allowed to excel in our school system because he is a nice looking, well put together, European American?
Janice speaks next; she has been out of prison for three days, is living with her mother and must come to these meetings as a term of her parole. She began working her road to recovery in prison. She was in prison for eighteen months on drug and prostitution charges. She flat out states that she is having trouble being grateful. But she also reminds herself that “It is hard to be grateful when you are hateful.” Under the rough exterior is a gentle woman crying out to live a healthy life. Some thing I believe that I take for granted at times.
All Sam has to say is that he had been in treatment two days; he has the shakes from withdrawing from heroin, and is grateful that he was not dead or in jail. Sam’s lack of speaking makes me focus on him for a short time. I wonder what makes Sam the person he is. I then think of what “labels” our education system would put on him. I believe Sam would be pigeon-holed as a special education, high-risk for drop-out, emotionally disturbed nobody.
And the children quietly played on the floor with colors and books while all this went on.
I came from this experience much more grateful for all the things that I have in my life. I am one that can get whiny about things if I get a little too tired or overwhelmed. Since this experience, I whine no more! I saw many different levels of poverty and it became clearer that poverty is not about how much money you have, but it’s about how much of the other seven resources you have. After the meeting I talked with John about Payne’s definition of poverty being “the extent to which an individual does without resources,” and he agrees with the necessity of having all the other resources. John says that he knows poverty, and he is glad that he is not anywhere near as poor as he once was. He continues to attend Narcotics Anonymous meetings to get his spiritual needs met, have a good support system, and building important relationships and have positive role models.
I also noticed many hidden rules among this group. Even though not one particular person had much money, most were able to give to help support the program. Someone noticed Sam asking for a cigarette and gave him an entire pack. When Banks discusses how, “groups possess a continuity that transcends the lives of individuals,” I could see the importance of this group in the success of its members. This group allows them to believe, feel and do. As an educator, working with a parent or student in recovery, it would be necessary to understand where they were coming from so that I could understand their behaviors and not jump to any irrational conclusions. If I had seen any of these individuals at any other place, I might not even make eye contact; but here I was able to see the damaging effects of stereotyping. I believe that I am the one that came away a better person form this experience.
For my observation, I attended a school talent show in (town, state). This may not sound like much; talent shows are fairly common. However, in (town) over 90% of the student population is of Mexican descent. Some are citizens and some are not. Most of the parents who attended the talent show did not speak English. If they did speak English, it was very limited. This was definitely out of my comfort zone and out of my normal daily life.
In the beginning, the show began as expected. The emcees were two high school students, who were dressed in baggy jeans and long shirts. One would speak to the audience in English, while the other was responsible for translating in Spanish to the parents and other Spanish-speaking students. Occasionally, the emcees would neglect to speak in English at all. It was a very strange feeling for me. I felt that I was hundreds of miles removed from the United States; it was as though I had stepped into a small Mexican village.
Each time that the boys spoke, I realized that they were comfortable in this auditorium of people. They spoke in only the casual register. When introducing acts, they always showed great emotion and told a humorous story about them. So many grammatical errors occurred during their speeches that I began to lose count. I began to realize that their use of English was often intermixed with their use of Spanish. Specifically, grammar rules from both languages often appeared in the same speech. This is just a part of language acquisition that is hard for English Language Learners to master.
Many of the acts gave small dedication speeches before or after their performance. Most of the students displayed a strong devotion to God, particularly as part of Hispanic Catholicism. Many of the students had large crosses or T-shirts with Jesus on them. As my eyes peered over the crowd, I noticed more of the same. During the intermission, a Catholic prayer was dedicated to a student who was killed in a car accident. The prayer was stated in English and in Spanish. Almost everyone in the auditorium knew the prayer, proceeded with the Sign of the Cross, and kissed the crosses that they wore around their necks.
I thought about school functions at my own children’s school. The differences were striking. My children also attend public school, just as these students did. However, my children’s school does not lead a prayer at school functions. If one were to begin, it would not be largely intertwined with Hispanic Catholicism. My children are native English speakers, as are the overwhelming majority of students at their school. The other parents resemble me, and I don’t feel as though I stick out. I felt very out of sorts as I thought of these differences and I felt so far removed from my “norm.” It was a combination of everything. I was definitely in the minority there, I didn’t speak the language, and the customs were so much different from my own.
As I talked to other teachers in the auditorium, I began gathering more information. The majority of families in (town) live at or below the poverty line. The talent show is an annual event that everyone looks forward to. It is a time for families to gather and entertain each other, to catch up with each other, and to pray together. Many of these families have no one to turn to because they left so much behind in Mexico. This talent show is a time of community gathering that is very needed in this small migrant community.
While I am still trying to reconcile my feelings about having to translate everything into Spanish, I feel that I am learning more about this culture. I truly wish that the students here would work on their grasp of English because I think it will make it easier for them to make their way in the world. I think that teachers need to have higher expectations for ELL students than they realize. If teachers don’t expect them to speak properly in English, then the casual register will prevail and language acquisition will not be complete.
While I would not necessarily love to attend another talent show here, I do understand its purpose. I think that the community of (town) needs chances to gather together as often as possible. I would imagine that there are other places that have similar needs. Immigrant communities, rural villages, or very poor areas need a chance to support each other without financial strain.
I gained some insight into what makes a migrant community different from mine, but I also learned that there are similarities. Both love to gather to watch their children perform. Both take every chance available to make connections with their friends and families. Both enjoy entertaining each other, albeit in slightly different ways. I am looking forward to more observations that allow me the opportunity to investigate unfamiliar cultural territory.
A childhood curiosity was laid to rest, or at least that is how I felt as I walked into the Catholic church on Sunday September 10th. I have spent my entire life driving by the Catholic church every day on the way to school. From the outside it looks like every other church in town, but I have always wondered what went on inside those walls. What are the services like and most importantly what are their beliefs? Many of my questions were answered after completing this observation. I certainly felt I had stepped outside my religious boundaries as I sat through this service. I even asked a colleague of mine after the service to explain a few things that I did not understand.
I had many misconceptions about the Catholic religion. I grew up Methodist, which some people say is the closest denomination to Catholicism, but in my small town our Methodist services are very similar to a Baptist service. A huge misconception of mine as I was growing up was that all Catholics were Hispanics. Of course as I grew older I learned this wasn’t so, but in my community a huge percentage of Catholics are Hispanic. During the service I attended I observed that the congregation was approximately 70% Hispanic and 30% Caucasian. During my time spent in the Catholic Church I observed many rituals of which I was previously unaware. Walking into the church I saw people dip their hands into holy water placed in a ceramic bowl attached to the wall, and before turning into their pews, they would make the sign of the cross. I later learned this is done out of respect. During the service the congregation uses missiles instead of bibles. These missiles have all the important bible versus for the upcoming Sundays placed in them. The service began with the priest entering the sanctuary. Next, a lay person read the scripture. This was followed by the sermon and then communion. I learned Catholics take communion every Sunday, whereas Methodists take communion the first Sunday of every month. During this time I was very uncomfortable, because I did not know what was expected of me. I wondered how many times my students feel this way in my class when they are put in an uncomfortable or unknown situation. As I sat through the service I looked around the building taking in my surroundings. In the front of the sanctuary are pictures of the Stations of the Cross that represent what Jesus went through prior to crucifixion. There are statues of saints placed on podiums in the front as well as a cross with the likeness of Jesus hanging from it. The service concluded with a time of reflection.
I learned many things during this observation. At the beginning of the service, I saw students from my classes sitting in the congregation. I had previously assumed some of these students did not even attend church. This was an opportunity for me to realize that there are things about my students of which I am unaware. As the texts explains, there are many groups in society that an individual can be a part of and as a teacher I need to be able to identify and understand characteristics of these groups to better relate to my students. Second, I learned to be more respectful of different denominations. Even though the Catholic service was very different from my Methodist services, I could still pick up on basic similarities, such as people joining together to fellowship with one another, the enjoyment of music, the valued sermon, and the belief in Jesus Christ. The most important conclusion I came to was that people, groups, and religions are misconstrued because individuals simply do not take the time to ask or observe things that are outside their cultural beliefs or values. This observation really did help me to integrate what was written in chapter one of our multicultural textbook about multicultural education. For teachers to implement multicultural education in their classrooms, we have to be willing to learn and experience other cultures and groups.
My first observation involved a class taught by (name, school). I arrived shortly before the fifth period bell sounded and took my seat near the back of the room. Mrs. (name) announced me as a visitor, but many of the students thought that I was just a new addition to the class. The class started with a warm-up involving the students journaling their thoughts regarding a statement proposed by (teacher). After an incident occurred in which a student had to autograph (teacher's) “little book” for not being adequately prepared for the journal discussion, two other students offered their opinions to the best of their abilities regarding the journal assignment. Mrs. (teacher) then proceeded to use a PowerPoint presentation to assist in the understanding of certain vocabulary words taken from the current novel being studied, The Lottery Rose, by Irene Hunt. Students were called upon by (teacher) to interact and describe their own perceptions regarding the vocabulary words. Mrs. (teacher) then showed a video clip of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast to once again reinforce the vocabulary words as they were now being placed into context. The five-minute video clip covered such words as frantic, bewildered and monstrosity. After this video clip, Mrs. (teacher) read from The Lottery Rose all the while constantly probing the class for understanding of the text as well as introducing them to new literary terms and connotations.
Well, that is how the class went…nothing new from the perspective of an educator, but there is one aspect that I left out. Mrs. (teacher) fifth period class happens to be an ESL (English as a Second Language) reading class with 100 percent of her students being of the Hispanic origin. Not only were the ethnic proportions of the classroom out of my comfort zone, but most of the students in this class also had a difficult time even conveying the simplest of messages in English. Granted, I was raised in (town) and have always been immersed in the Hispanic culture, but I do not ever remember a time when I was the only “white” student in the room. In addition to that, I could not understand a word many of these students were saying. As the class filtered in during the break between periods, the only language being spoken was Spanish. It made me a little uneasy because they were staring at me and conversing in “their” normal language. I tend to like the ability to understand what people are saying, especially when the conversation is about me. As far as my own beliefs are concerned, individuals who decide to move to the United States should adopt our language and customs. If I as an American decided to move to any other country, I would have to do the same. In fact, most countries do not even offer an “ESL” program to their foreign students. With this being said, the students that come to the United States from other countries have no choice in the matter. They are transferred into a completely different environment because they are simply “with” their parents. Does this give us a right to deny them an appropriate education…absolutely not. Our laws and values dictate equality, regardless of situation. Yes, these students need to learn English to function in American society, but their education has to start somewhere. I was truly stunned by Mrs. (teacher) class as even in that single class, there was much diversity. Some of the students seemed very fluent in English while others had a great deal of difficulty even getting basic words out of their mouths. It was extremely frustrating to see their minds working and churning, but helpless as to communication and comprehension. Although Mrs. (teacher) did have an assistant, the goal was not to simply interpret, but to assist in comprehension. I noticed a bond between the students that probably filters from class to class. Those who were more fluent in English tended to aid those who were not as fluent. The one discouraging, but extremely reversible aspect was the fact that some of those students had sheer looks of desperation on their faces because they could not understand or relay their thoughts in English. I tried to imagine myself in foreign country, thrown into a class where my culture essentially vanished and left with no means of communication. I can only imagine the level of frustration these students may feel, especially coupled with the fact that “high stakes” testing determines their future. I would like to commend Mrs. (teacher) for her patience and persistence as well as her obviously penetrating teaching methods. During this observation, she tried to focus on the students’ strengths as visual learners to break that language barrier. She was also culturally responsive by trying to incorporate the students’ culture and experiences into her instruction and response methods.
As this observation occurred in an educational setting, it greatly strengthens the text that I have read. The most revealing part of this observation was the fact that Mrs. (teacher) held high expectations for her students. She did not allow the language barrier to become an excuse for her students. She expected participation regardless of fluency in English. Banks suggests that high expectations generate an overall positive climate for learning, and this was clearly evident as the students felt very comfortable responding to questions that were asked. Observing this class also made me realize the importance of self knowledge as it allows for development of positive relationships with students. I can not imagine trying to motivate students to learn without knowing what those motivators are. I believe that a teacher with knowledge of their students’ culture can level with the students to enhance learning. This observation also reiterated the fact that personal values may greatly affect student/teacher relationships. If I as a teacher have a preconceived idea that culturally diverse students have no potential to achieve success, then what would motivate me to set high expectations for my students? I believe that there are preconceived notions relating to all cultures. As Banks suggests, the goal of multicultural education is to evaluate those values and notions that we do possess as they essentially generate self-awareness. This self-awareness allows us to basically look at our methods through a microscope to ensure educational equality across the board. Although Payne primarily focuses on poverty, I did notice a few comparisons with her text as well. For one, students who are trying to translate their thoughts into a different language commonly do so, but the response tends to follow a casual register. It is important as educators to not only teach “English,” but to also teach appropriate structures. During this observation, I noticed that the casual register was the primary means of discourse as the students’ English was so limited. The responsibility of educators does not merely rest with the English language itself, but to directly teach use of the formal register, so that students may function in educational settings as well as in society as a whole. Although ethnicity and language barriers were my primary focus when selecting this observation, it became clearly evident that cultural differences can sometimes overlap. For instance, there were several children in Mrs. (teacher) class who were not only culturally diverse due to ethnicity, but also culturally diverse due to social class (poverty). Payne discusses the hidden rules among classes in which education in situations of poverty is not a reality or concern; the main concern of those suffering from poverty rests with attention and entertainment. Although I can not make factual statements regarding the social class of each student, I can say that those students with characteristics of moderate poverty also exhibited the need for attention. Those students tended to be disruptive and careless. With the endless cultural attributes that can be assigned to one classroom, it is evident that educators may have to cross several boundaries to reach such students.
In conclusion, the one lesson that hit home was the fact that “ideal” classrooms do not exist. Every classroom is going to be culturally diverse in some form or fashion. As evident in this observation, there may be several cultural “hurdles” to jump before finding those techniques to ensure educational equality. I truly believe that education is an ongoing process as is life. There will never be two classes that will be completely alike. It is crucial for teachers to recognize the cultural factors exhibited by their student because those factors can sometimes be applied exponentially. Every student deserves an education, and because of that, teachers are facing constant cultural challenges. I commend those teachers who “jumps through hoops” to reach their students.
The first observation is to go out of our element to some location that is tied to a stereotype or some place where we are not in our comfort area. This is a challenging project. I am from a large city. We moved to a small town in (state), and, I am not in my comfort zone right now. I could speak of our life here, how different things are living is a small town. As stated in Banks chapter two “Cultural innovation is always occurring within local communities of cultural practice.” Living here is culture shock; everyone is connected to someone in this town. At times we feel like foreigners from a different planet. Being from (city) we are liberal, which in a small Republican village, the term liberal is like being a Communist in the 50’s. There are many things that are wonderful about living in a small town. Our neighbors are great and I have been able to meet the right people to pursue my career. The commute to work is about ten minutes’ verses forty-five minutes to an hour and a half to get to work. One way and that commute it was only ten miles away. That is one of the best things about living in a small town.
The one thing that affects the family in a negative way is a place to eat out. We have to travel more than a hundred miles to find restaurants and clothing stores that we are familiar with. So in our pursuit to find a place to shop and eat we decided to go to (city), which is a hundred miles away or an hour and a half away. Going to (city) to do some shopping at the Mall and at Old Navy clothing store, is nothing new, we have done this many times before. It was a cloudy day with an occasional rain shower, when we just stepped out of the Old Navy store and it started to pour down rain. We made a mad dash for the car. It was about 1:30 in the afternoon. As we all sat in the car we were trying to figure out what to eat, we were hungry! Old Navy is located across the street from the mall, but we did not want to eat mall food. Then on the other side of Old Navy’s parking lot was a “Hooters” a place with many stereotypes attached to this establishment. My wife said, “Lets eat there, I heard that they have good food.” Feeling a little uncomfortable because my fifteen-year-old daughter was with us, I hesitated, only for a moment.
As we walked into the restaurant a young woman greeted us and showed us to our table. My preconceived notion of this restaurant was shattered in an instant. As stated in Banks chapter two “We continue to learn new culture until we die” It was an ordinary restaurant with people from every walk of life. Yes, it did have three tables where there were only guys at the table. Across from us was a couple with two children and a baby in a high chair. Down and across from us was an older couple in their late 60’s or 70’s having lunch. When I scanned the area I noticed that almost every culture was in this restaurant. We ordered our meals. I had heard that they had a specialty “fried pickles” another preconceived notion. What were they thinking! So, for the sake of research and assignment requirements I ordered the fried pickles also. When the meal came it was pleasing to the eye, and the food was great, even those scary “fried pickles.” Yes, they do have waitresses dressed like carhops, but coming from Southern California and a beach area, the waitresses seemed to be over dressed. As for my image or my stereotype of a well establish restaurant have changed, we all have prejudices and it’s a constant battle to change our preconceived ideas.
Having been raised in a European American home where we were very involved in our church, I chose to have the experience of attending an African-American church service on Sunday morning. My first observation was of the men standing in clusters outside the church to greet people. Everyone was dressed in suits and the ladies (most already seated in the church) were attired in nice “Sunday dresses”. Some of the ladies wore very ornate and large hats (crowns, as they referred to them). Already both of my observations were in direct contrast to my typical Sunday morning experience at my own church. As the church service began a gentleman introduced the special musicians for the day, including the drummer (the pastor’s son) and the guitar instrumentalists. The music was a mix of very traditional hymns similar to those I sing at my regular church, African American gospel tunes and more modern soul music. Most of the music was very loud, and everyone fully participated. After the special music by an all women’s choir, the African American pastor, Brother (name), approached the stage with his Bible in his hand and begin to slowly speak his message. As he moved through his message he got progressively louder and faster and more passionate. He frequently asked for the congregation to respond to his statements. (Something Payne discusses in her work on Story Structures.) After taking an offering while the “band” played, a passionate prayer completed the service. Lots of socializing/visiting occurred as everyone slowly departed.
I found myself comparing every phase of my observations to my own experiences in my own church. Although everyone was very friendly, I felt I was clearly in someone else’s territory. I couldn’t help but think of the African American children that attend the school where I work. Our school is in a middle-class white neighborhood across town from where most of them live. I had a renewed commitment to learn about their culture and find ways to bring that into our classrooms. It was clear that just as our text points out, the community that I was visiting in was much more group focused/dependent than my own community where individualism is encouraged. The “hidden rules” of the African American community were foreign enough to me that without someone from that community guiding me through the rituals, I was often lost in the expected responses during worship. Their language patterns (rhythm, pronunciation and semantics) as both of our texts have pointed out constantly made me struggle to get the full meaning of their discourse. I was fascinated by their minister’s story structure per Payne’s work. He followed Payne’s outline exactly…first he talked about the characters, the ending of the story and then told snippets from the Biblical story which were intermingled with audience participation or responses. His focus was clearly on the characters. As he moved through his message he became more and more involved with the audience and “entertainment” took a stronger part in his message. Each of these elements was again supported by Payne’s work. This pattern was very different from what I have become accustomed to in my own culture and worship experience. My pastor utilizes the more formal-register story structure with emphasis on chronological order of the story and the plot. Sometimes I found it hard to follow the pastor of the church that I was visiting. The congregation, just as our text points out, shared a feeling of unity. Their service was more openly emotional than my usual church experience, but this matches my observations and new learning about the African American culture. The rituals although based on similar Biblical beliefs often kept me from being able to fully participate in the service. I couldn’t help but wonder if this is how our students feel when they attend classes that are so far from the daily rituals of their home life.
As the service ended some of my current and past African American students came up and hugged me. I caught myself immediately feeling more relaxed and secure. Relationships can help break down barriers and borders. I was also interested to observe the choir director who is also an African American teacher in our district (not on my campus). His persona was different than I have observed when he is on the multicultural, middle-school campus where he teaches math. He took on the culture of the people he was working with on this Sunday morning. I studied these differences and realized that he is definitely “bi-cultural”.
During my reflections on the visit I have noted many connections to the information that our texts have shared with us on the beliefs, symbols and interpretations of different cultures. I am seeing what seems to break down these cultural borders and barriers as I am becoming more aware of other cultures and their “hidden rules”. I am now constantly examining my own thinking and actions to make sure that others feel honored and respected for who they are and the place that each of our cultures has in our relationships. The next step is to be sure that I am leading my staff to a similar awareness and response.
As I was driving up to my designated location for my observation, I could already tell that I was looking towards an evening of interesting events. My observation took place at the P.W.F.G. or Producing Warriors For God establishment. This is a non-denominational establishment. It is located in an almost abandoned building in an alley suite of (city, state). To my surprise, there was already someone outside the suite door awaiting my arrival. Nervously, I followed the individual inside the building.
The door opened and there before me were six individuals, all of whom were African American (I am Hispanic). Six bright smiles flashed and I felt relieved. One of the females stood up and introduced me to the whole group that consisted of her daughter, who is eight; her husband, who is the pastor; her mother in-law, who is the visionary; a young adult male, who is in the process of learning how to preach; and his wife. The suite was very intimate. There were only four rows, each containing only five chairs for a limited amount of members. This is their place of worship. My church, which is a Catholic church, can hold hundreds of people, and it was awkward for me to feel “watched”. The young man who is preparing to be a pastor stood behind a podium. He seemed very nervous. During his preaching he constantly swayed, looked up at the ceiling and used numerous hand movements. I believe that this is the way he usually preaches because it makes him feel comfortable. By moving and indirect eye contact he is able to concentrate on his words. There were no expressions by the audience. Everyone sat there, taking notes and listening, even the eight year old.
At the end of his sermon, the pastor asked him a couple of questions, directly but quietly. Next, the pastor’s wife spoke. Her voice was much more dominant than her husbands. She was very outspoken and very detailed. A thought came to mind that maybe the male feels intimidated by the female. It was obvious to me that while the “learner” was at the podium, there was a tremendous respect for the individual, but when the time was available to speak, the women were ready to express their thoughts. The men listened. After both the pastor’s wife and the visionary spoke, it seemed as if the pastor then felt that he needed to elaborate more on his comments. While the pastor spoke, the women gave signs of approval by giving some “u-huh’s, Amen’s, and that’s rights”. A lot of nodding of the head was also done by the women. The women, being so outspoken are also very encouraging when the man speaks. They also have the tendency to repeat the same words after the men.
At this point, the pastor was really “giving it” to the adult learner. I believe he might have thought that I was frightened by his reactions because he felt the need to turn to me and say “I believe that it is important to be hard on him because it is crucial for him to completely understand what he is preaching so he can walk the streets and be able to face any questions that might be thrown at him by any individual. This might be his chance to save a soul”. Wow! I sat there…understanding and delighted of the fact that even though this happens to be the smallest member establishment of worship I‘ve ever been to or seen, they indeed had the same beliefs and hearts as millions of others, as myself.
To conclude the evening, they played a song. It was no song that I would hear at my church, but the message was just the same. It was a modern rap song and everyone stood and danced. I recalled where Banks stated that in the early stages of religion diversity “the chant, song, and dance central to much tribal religiosity fused with the enthusiastic and often emotional style of evangelicalism to give African American Christianity a distinctive expression that grew and developed alongside the churches with European roots.” It was as if more movement was done, then more worshiping was done. The eight year old was on the side performing some “steppin’ and struttin’”.
I had noticed signs around the room throughout my whole observation and I brought it to myself to ask them what the signs stood for. The signs looked a little like “ZOZ”. Apparently this stands for Zeta Phi Zeta. This is a Christian fraternity/sorority. Their goal is to “produce a Christian culture on college campuses that will encourage everyone on the campus to seek a true and right relationship with God.” There are currently nine chapters of this organization in the nation. (City) is the newest city chapter.
I’m glad that I was able to experience this observation because it allowed me to see a different way of worship with individuals who have a diverse ethnic background. It also gave me the opportunity to see how they interact with each other. They were very respectful to me and I appreciated their hospitality.
For my first project, I decided to seek an experience completely outside of my comfort zone that reflected the antithesis of my customary habits. Some choices I actively pursued until some unavoidable problem occurred. Several other unusual or atypical options came to mind. For instance, I located a practice range that offered a shooting competition to the public. However, my husband pointed out that guns and my temperament do not mix.
Next, I found The White Rabbit Club that featured an array of heavy metal bands. The drawback was that the show only performed once a week and I was unable to attend. However, my favorite option pertained to pole dancing. Suddenly, my husband became very supportive and encouraging me to attend classes. He even offered to buy my costumes. But pole dancing classes require several weeks of commitment in order to graduate with a diploma (a monogrammed G-string).
However, I elected to test one of my most ingrained beliefs. For many years, I considered alcoholism to be a choice and not a disease as touted by many sociologists and other humanists. As a teetotaler and mother, I believe alcoholism to be an emotional weakness. For years, I have preached to my children the “evils” of excessive drinking that leads to self-destructive behavior. For this reason, I wanted to acquire first hand knowledge regarding the onset of a drinking addiction. I wanted to determine if my stance resulted from negative experiences or an acquired bias.
Before the Meeting
As a former nurse, I assisted many abusive, combative, and aggressive patients in their repeated attempts at recovery within the confines of a hospital setting. As a result, I came to the conclusion that alcoholism is an acquired weakness that drinkers use in order to avoid facing any sort of conflict or dilemma. Many of the patients reported during the medical intake a history of social or recreational drinking. A number of heavy drinkers confirmed a gradual increase in consumption over a period of years as an outlet to frustration or as a means of forgetfulness over a painful incident.
Although the organization, Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.), is a national recovery group, I have never attended a meeting to learn about its objectives. Of course, the organization’s Twelve Steps to Recovery is well-known but I had not read AA’s famous creed. Therefore, I came to the realization that in order to take such a rigid stance against alcoholism, I needed to validate my opinions or dismiss them as prejudicial and erroneous. I wanted to see and understand if AA’s group affiliation and support truly works.
I am ashamed to confess a slight wariness regarding attending this AA meeting. I feel that some attendees might misconstrue my cautiousness as condemnation. They might resent my curiosity as intrusive and patronizing. It is not my intention to make anyone uncomfortable or to let them feel as if their lives are on display.
After the Meeting
I felt so awful for intruding on these individuals’ pain and suffering. For the first time, I witnessed the other side of excessive drinking. For the first time, I believe I truly understand the multifaceted destruction of lives caused by alcohol. The members of A.A. leave their pride and egos at the door. They recall humiliating and degrading events caused by this addition. Yet, the nonjudgmental support of the other members can be felt.
The chapter members extended their hospitality to me without reservation. However, the members assumed my presence was due to a drinking problem. I found I could not admit to being there as an observer. Basically, as an observer, I felt that the members would feel as if I would be invading their privacy.
The emotional and medical aspects of the disease were frankly discussed and examined. One gentleman carried a portable oxygen tank as a result of liver and heart failure and one lady sported head injuries from a fall acquired from excessive drinking. Another member confessed, due to excessive alcohol, to parking his car in the wrong driveway and attempting to enter the wrong house. These individuals urged the others to use them as examples to prevent relapses.
Some admitted to be forced by the courts to attend these meetings but found themselves returning without coercion. Several people admitted to D.U.I. citations and arrests due to alcohol use. Many testified that without God’s intervention, they would not survive. At the end of the meeting, everyone gathered in a circle to recite the Lord’s Prayer and ask for strength to pursue daily activities. Consequently, the spiritual aspect of the program seems to be a huge factor in the recovery process.
The organizers of the A.A. meeting provided a booklet containing details of all the area support groups available everyday of the week at various times during the day. The local chapters provide a helpline number that can be accessed anytime of the day or night. If a member chooses, he or she can add his or her contact number to a support or sponsor list if another member experiences a temptation to drink again. When these periods occur, members admit to feeling a loss of control.
In the text, “A Framework for Understanding Poverty,” educator Reuven Feurstein indicated that if some individuals who do not have access to a story structure with cause and effect, consequence and sequence, find that they cannot plan and predict, identify cause and effect and cannot control impulsiveness. Even though he applied this theory to criminal behavior, I believe these cognitive issues plays a role in some alcoholic addiction cases.
Confession and intervention play important roles in these support groups. Dr. Feurstein refers to this strategy as mediation and believes that “deliberate intervention does three things: points out the stimulus, gives the stimulus meaning, and provides a strategy to deal with the stimulus.” The Twelve Steps provides a spiritual intervention and a hope for recovery. Although the intervention may be interpreted as religious in nature, the application of the Twelve Steps may also be construed as a greater being than oneself or the power within an individual.
Alcoholism destroys many facets of family life. For those who want to save themselves from the brink of destruction, A.A. is a lifeline. Alcoholics Anonymous has one goal: sobriety. The organization achieves this condition by intervention. I agree with the assessment of intercession. For people, with any type of addiction, alternative resources provide the means to cope and resume a healthier lifestyle.
To describe this observation, I must take time to describe the setting where the scenario took place. My husband and I drove approximately eight miles north of (town). This may not seem like a significant distance, but in (town) we were headed out of town. We arrive at (name) Park. This park is a City park that is used for family reunions and community functions. In fact the only time I have spent anytime at this park was for a family reunion. When we arrived at our destination we observed a large make shift church in the form of a very large tent. Surrounding the church or tent were pickup trucks many connected to horse trailers. We were greeted by some very nice men that are unmistakably cowboys. We find the opening and enter the tent. Once we are inside I observed the wood rails and hay bails that surrounded the sanctuary. The congregation was singing along with the praise and worship team. The songs were surprisingly current Christian standards that I could sing along with. I did not know if the music would be traditional hymns. After the singing the preacher began to speak. His message was so simple and easy to understand. I forgot about the hay bails, pickups with horse trailers, and the fact that I was in a church that was erected that very day. After service the people were so friendly and made us feel so welcome. I plan on attending another tent service soon. I truly felt God in the basic frame of that church.
One of the first connections that I made between the experience and the text were the hidden cues of behavior in this culture. The men seemed to be very respectful of the woman in attendance. And the woman seemed to serve in different aspects without being asked to do so. Culture is emotional according to our book, and I could tell that these individuals were proud and passionate about who they were and their lives that they share in the ranching and farming community. This was really great to see. I did not consider the ranchers and farmers of our community a culture all by themselves until now. This class is allowing me the opportunity to experience different cultures that I may have not experienced on my own.
I live in a small town with a population about 9,000. There are not a lot of places to go without someone knowing you, so I decided to visit a Laundry Mat. I know it sound a little weird, but it turned out to be very productive. I visited two different locations in two different parts of town. Having never been in either location, I observed between 4-6 different parties at each location. I did a couple of different things as I sat in the store. The first thing that I did was to make initial eye contact, but did not speak first, with each person that entered. Next, I made a mental note of how much Laundry they brought in. This just led me to believe if they use the Laundry Mat as a sole source of washing, or if they may be there because their machine at home is broke. There is no scientific basis to this, I was just curious. Finally, I took a couple of loads of laundry so that I was able to fit in.
The first location I visited is on the south side of town in an integrated neighborhood. There may be a really nice house right next to one that is abandoned, and everything in between. I saw several people come and go in the time that I spent there. Out of the six parties that I observed all made eye contact, but only two spoke first. The other four just continued into the store and conducted business. As they washed, I noticed that they never left the facilities. They may go to their car, but never drove away. It seemed that they were afraid that someone would take their clothes even though there was someone at the store as an attendant. I did not personally know everyone, but some of the people that I was an acquaintance with, I took notice as to what they were driving and I knew where they lived and I didn’t understand their priorities. They drive a very nice vehicle, but their appearance and their house didn’t reflect that. Half of the parties seemed to bring more than five loads of Laundry. This indicated that they do most if not all of their washing outside of the home.
The second location is on the north side of town and closer to a very upper-middle class neighborhood. Here I observed four parties come and go. All four of them made eye contact with me, and three of the four spoke first. There was an attendant at this location as well, and two of the parties left the facility at some point and returned within 10 minutes. I did not personally know any of the parties at this location. I did notice that the cost of the machines was higher and the facilities were kept in cleaner condition. The appearance of the individuals, and the quality and condition of there vehicles seemed to match closer. None of the customers at this location had more than three loads, which could show that they didn’t solely use the washing facilities.
Upon concluding this observation several issues were revealed. At the first location parties did not seem to have as much confidence in meeting new people. This was observed by the lack of initial communication on their part. This lack of communication could have also been due to the fact that I was a new face that didn’t fit at that location. At the second location there was more initial contact by the other parties with me. This allows me understand how people feel when they are uncomfortable because they don’t fit in. That really brings to light the differences that were shown to me by the Racial survey. I also noticed the lack of trust, evident by the customers not wanting to leave the facilities. I don’t know if that lack of trust was based on me sitting in the store or if they naturally don’ t trust people. I believe that it is the latter of the two, but it does make you think about how racial and socioeconomic stereotypes are turned toward you. That really hits home on the section of Multicultural Education on self-knowledge, and the differences in hidden classes discussed in Understanding Poverty. I really feel that I can get me hands around many of the concept that we have read about, and several of them were confirmed in my observation. It was interesting to be on the receiving end of what may be perceived as prejudice. One thing that I really have trouble with is the prioritization of these individuals that seem to focus many of their finances and efforts towards such material items. I hope that understanding that thought process will further develop my understanding of different cultures.
Banks and Banks define prejudice as a set of rigid and unfavorable attitudes toward a particular individual or group that is formed without consideration of facts. They also define racism as a belief that human groups can be grouped according to their biological traits and these views oppress and often dehumanize these groups. Growing up in a rural town of Alabama, I experienced many views of prejudice particularly against African Americans. I had many friends who were African American growing up. I would often ask one friend in particular why he changed the way he acted when he was around me versus the way he acted with other African Americans. He used both formal and casual registers depending on whom he was around.
While I was in California for a temporary duty assignment, I decided to visit the area of Compton during the day despite my wife’s reservations. I initially drove around taking mental notes of the houses and the vehicles that were on the streets. I had expected to see run down houses with “pimped” out cars and a liquor store owned by Koreans on every corner. While there were some run down houses, many of them were old but in good repair and order. There was a mixture of older and newer cars, just as you might expect to see in many poor-middle class neighborhoods.
I received many wary stares from some of the people as I drove through some of the different streets. I decided to get out and ask directions from an elderly African American male. He was very cordial and gave me the directions. I got back into the car and tried the experiment with a couple of younger African American males. They to were cordial and helpful. The younger males were dressed like many other teenagers here in (town). I did see a lot of graffiti and gang signs throughout parts of the town. I took my directions and went back to my hotel to reflect.
During this observation, I learned that Hollywood, the Rodney King verdicts, and the media had influenced me. I had built a mental picture of a possible war zone. I did notice a lot of graffiti but that was really the only stereotype that had come to surface. While I do not consider myself racist, I did notice that I had indeed pre-judged. Banks and Banks are right when they say that institutional and individual racism shapes the existence and actions of all the people in America.
|I decided for my first observation that I would ride the public bus provided by the city. I choose this because I have never been in a situation in which I needed to ride public transportation. I had always thought of public transportation for the poor. My first step was to find the nearest bus stop. Once there I had to look at the map to find out where I was and where I needed to go. That was a little challenging because bus routes were going in every different direction. After a few minutes I found the route I wanted to take. Next task was to find out how much money it was going to cost me. Down at the bottom of the map it showed the different routes and the cost for each one. The cost was going to be $1.60 according to the map. Things were looking good and I thought to myself this is no big deal. So I sat down on the bench and waited for the bus, and waited, and waited. It seemed like hundreds of cars had driven by and still no bus. I looked down at my watch and only fifteen minutes had past since I had sat down. The little perspiration that had started was now in full stream. It must have been around 90 degrees with high humidity. Here I am in shorts, tennis shoes, and a t-shirt. I could not imagine being in a suit or dress going off to work or an interview. Finally the bus had come the moment of truth to see if I could navigate the bus system to get to my final destination. I entered the bus and proceed to give the bus driver my $2.00. She looked at me and said it was only one dollar. So I tried to hand her $1.00. She gave me a look like I was stupid, which at this point I was starting to feel that way, and pointed to an automatic dollar slot for my money. I put it in and then she asked me if I wanted a transfer ticket. I told her no not truly understanding what a transfer ticket was for. I then proceeded down the aisle looking at which seat I was going to take. I choose one near the rear so that no one was behind me. Fortunately for me the bus was air conditioned, so after a couple of minutes I started to dry up from the sweating early. The bus I was on had only 8 people on it to start with five men and three women. Of the 8 people inside two were Caucasian and the rest were Hispanic. A short while later we came to a stop and a Hispanic gentleman and two kids got on the bus. One of the kids was crying and I overheard him tell the man that he was really hungry. It was dinner time and I did not know how far they had to travel before they were home. The bus continued to go past some stops and then stop at others. I was trying to figure out how the bus driver knew when someone wanted to get off the bus. Then after a couple more individuals got off I realized that they were pulling on the wire by the window before they came to their stop. It sure beat the shouting that I had seen in the movies. As I sat there some more I looked around to see that people were strategically positioned within the bus. There was always an empty seat between them. The other things that I noticed are that no one neither looked at one another nor spoke one word. As we progressed along people got on and off the bus. I looked out the window and realized I had not a clue where I was at. Without a map to look at I wondered where I was going to get off at. Suddenly we made a stop behind the airport. For anyone who has ever been behind an airport, knows that it is not the best place to be, but here we were. This was one of the cities big transfer points where people can leave one bus for another to go into a different direction. Now the light bulb comes on in my head. So the transfer ticket the bus driver was talking about was for a stop like this. I decided that it was probably in my best interest to stay on the bus I was on and head back home, hopefully anyway. I was definitely in a rough part of town judging by all the graffiti and trash. The other part of the trip that got to me was that by this time I had become the only Caucasian in the area and man did I get some looks. The way everyone was dressed suggested to me that they work very hard and do not make a lot of money. Finally the bus started on its journey back and I got dropped off about six blocks from my house. I walked home and told my wife of my adventure. I am glad that I took the trip. At moments I felt nervous because I was out of my element. I definitely have a better understanding when Dr. Payne refers to the hidden rules. I was out of my element and of course without having someone help me I did not make it to my final destination. As people came into the bus I found myself judging them. I was also drawing up expectations of them. The unfortunate thing is that I believe most folks draw up expectations of people who ride the bus. I can see now even more, how teachers just by the first meeting of the students draw up either high or low expectations.|
|I copied and pasted each of your observations on my blog site so others in our class can read through them. I learned a lot from reading your observations, and I think others will too.|
|I would make a call to the maintenance director and ask him to handle it. There's not much I can do other than that. If the custodial staff doesn't work, they don't get paid. I hate that they would have to work in a hot building, but if I decide to work some during the summer I would have to endure the heat as well, I guess.|
I appreciate that a parent would even voice that their child should not be promoted because usually teachers find themselves trying to convince the parents that their child needs to be retained. I definitely need to talk to Vicki and have her explain Barbara's passing grades. As a principal I should have copies of failure notices if any were sent out and I should be able to bring up Barbara's report card grades for the year. Being that she is a third grader, I would also need to look at her TAKS scores. If Barbara meets the requirements for promotion, then I would meet with Mrs. Marshall and Vicki to see if there is something we could do to help Barbara in 4th grade. Does she possibly need testing after the proper intervention steps? Is summer school a possibility? If the grades are not up to par and Barbara truly should not have been promoted, then I would suggest the same options to Mrs. Marshall. (summer school, testing...) We want to do what is best for Barbara so she can experience success. I would address the district's promotion policy with Vicki and make sure she understood the importance of
retaining students and passing them on.
|The first thing that I would do is to ask the secretary to see Barbara's record for myself. I would review the test scores as well as look into her grades in Mrs. Nelson's class. Before contacting Mrs. Marshall I would meet with Mrs. Nelson to find out about this situtaion. Barbara possibly could be an extremely hard working student and Mrs. Nelson was trying to give her the benefit of a doubt. Barbara might be a poor test taker and was doing extra work in Mrs. Nelson's class. With No Child Left Behind it is going to be hard to promote those type of students due to accountabality issues. I would explain this to Mrs. Nelson and tell her I appreciate what she is doing to help the students but that we must also make sure they are going to be prepared for the next grade level. I would then have a meeting with Mrs. Marshall and Mrs. Nelson and try to come up with a plan of action that everyone could be satisified with and that Barbara's best intrest was top priority. This might include summer school or tutoring during the summer.|
|This scenerio bothers me in the fact that I have worked for eight years in a school that does not have air conditioning and I find it hard to believe that someone can not perform their job if they do not have it. The first thing I would do is to get into contact with the head maintance personal to see if they can fix this problem. If they could not I would then work with the maintance personal to get in contact with the company that we do bussiness with. I would then meet with the head custodian and inform him of what I had found out. I would also let him/her know that even though the air conditioner is not working that they still need to get their job done. If they wanted to work in the mornings and evenings when it was cooler that I didn't have a problem with this that. It is their descision, however I still expected for them to get the job done. People work outside daily in the heat doing more physical labor so I have a hard time showing alot of sympathy.|