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Perhaps you would like to comment on your reaction to the situation detailed on this web site.  You may be a teacher of low income student who shares the same frustration as our four teachers; on the other hand you may be having great success with such children and would like to share your thoughts, techniques, etc.  We welcome your feedback on most anything pertaining to improving our schools.  Please use the box provided below.

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3 comments on “Your Comments
  1. Dick Garrett says:

    From: Janice M Minyon
    Subject: I spent my entire year teaching in Houston Texas inner city schools.

    Ten Steps to Teaching “The Class from Hell” A chance to change the life of another human being without needing a lot of money!

    1. Number one and most important: Build self esteem; it is the best way to teach self-motivation and the desire to feel successful.

    2. Everything is reading: use your spelling text, language text ,science text, and social studies text. If you find something interesting in a reading text, usually something that is not fiction (These are children who have not been exposed to a lot in their life) They love to learn about how other people live, learn about other places that are different from home.

    3. Science: Use all experiments. Children would traverse through a snowstorm or a flood if they know that the next day they will be doing science experiments.

    4. Never skip spelling or language. They help to build vocabulary, whether you are teaching my classes from hell or second language learners.

    5. Math is the easiest. It is a matter of taking everything taught from short-term memory to long-term memory.

    6. Reward student for wanted behaviors. I like the way (name) is doing ___________. I really like the way thought about the problem before deciding what the answer is.

    7. Teach by example. Ask higher level thinking questions when you read to them from interesting materials. Use voices; I sometimes do this with what I am reading to them from something short.

    8. Read from “What if the Wolf was an Octopus?” which has sample questions and questions that develop higher level thinking.

    9. Model handwriting when you are writing on an overhead machine, chart paper or the white/blackboard. My students were never taught cursive. I wouldn’t do this in the beginning but as time goes by begin to introduce it.

    10. Celebrate your successes. Give your self a pat on the back for your successes. Enjoy your weekends and come back to class with lots of smiles and enthusiasm. A happy enthusiastic teacher spreads it around all day every day.

    This may not sound like much but I worked at it for 18 years with lots of successful students who were labeled as Special Ed. Most of them and sometimes all of them pass the state tests. Yes these were often 13-year-old fourth grade students who were working the second week of kinder to the first week of second grade. Most of my students came to me not knowing how to read, write, write, or compute the simplest math problem.

    If you are interested I will be happy to share my methodologies in each subject. This a lot easier than trying to teach angry unsuccessful demoralized children. You have the ability to change their life for the better. 85% of these boys end up in prison and the too many girls bring their childhood to a screeching halt when they become a parent when they are still a child themselves. I can share the names of books and materials
    that make it a lot easier and you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you have changed the life of a fellow human being for the better.

    My Story –

    Message Body:
    Upon graduation from the University of Pittsburgh (summa cum laude) I attended an event where school districts from across the country came to hire faculty. I stopped at the booth and requested an all African American school in an area of poverty. I was 38 years old and this was what I always wanted to do. I wanted to save the world and I felt there was no better place to begin than with the children of poverty. I worked with the lowest children (academically) I got a feeling for what needed to be done and learned that there was also another minority population that needed help. I spent my time out of the classroom learning how to teach English as a Second Language at the University of Houston Clear Lake. I spent my first year getting a grip of classroom control and becoming with the objectives that the children needed to be successful in school. I needed to move to a predominantly speak English as a second language. My classes over the year were generally referred to by the school faculty and staff as “The class from Hell.” Students would hear these faculty and staff members why people called them that? There were lots of problems that needed to be resolved the first of which was a boost in self-esteem. They needed to be treated with dignity and respect. They had no self worth. Over the years I used trial and error and mastered my position by addressing all of their problems. My class was always larger than the state limit of 22. The largest was 37. We didn’t fit in the room. I had the desks removed and went to Home Depot and bought eight-foot tables. The custodians found me some chairs and children worked in groups of different levels. They discussed a lot of we were working on (you remember 16% of what you see and hear and 65% of what you discuss with someone else. We discussed everything except evaluation to be sure where each student was in order to know how to plan my lessons. It wasn’t perfect yet but getting better and better as time went by. Previous teachers had called these children dumb and stupid and now they were learning as well as building a feeling of self worth and we celebrated every success no matter how small. I enforced a strict set of roles but as the children became more and more successful they became enthusiastic learners. I worked on this for years and as I improved so did my children. In my entire career I taught two children who were not children of color, which led me to learn that these children of poverty who came to school with a lot of baggage were being discriminated in our public school system. All but a few children over the years were labeled as Special Ed so that their test scores would not be included in published state test scores. Without boring I will tell you that the last “class from Hell” came to me in the fourth grade labeled as special Ed. They could not read, write, nor compute and mathematical equations. The lowest child was functional on a level the first 6 weeks of Kindergarten and the highest on the second week of second grade. They passed the state teat at the end of the year on or above grade level. We are speaking of Reading, Language, Science, and Social Studies, and Mathematics. They were full of self-esteem; the behavior problems disappeared over time. My boss was promoted because of my class test scores. I have a few sayings that follow me through life. One such is “IF I CAN DO IT SO CAN YOU! Another is that if something isn’t working out I am either doing it wrong or not trying hard enough

    • Dick Garrett says:

      Janice, thanks for your many excellent comments and for your inspirational note – it’s great to find a teacher who is up to the challenge of the really difficult teachers. I do not believe there are many of you in the teaching profession who can handle such difficult students.