Inner City English Teacher

Inner City English Teacher


NY Metro Area, NJ

Female, 37

I teach English to 11th grade inner city students. I love my students and do whatever I can to help them succeed, which is quite a mission. These kids face obstacles most of us cannot even imagine: gangs, incarcerated parents, domestic violence and much more. Everyday I read journal entries that would curl your toes...and often I feel I compromise my ethics to get these kids to pass, which I am very conflicted about. Many pass who, frankly, should not.

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55 Questions


Last Answer on June 01, 2014

Best Rated

Do you think some kids just aren't built for school? they may be smart, talented, etc, but school in the traditional sense just doesn't work for them?

Asked by mama may i over 10 years ago

I think there have been kids who aren't built for school for many years. You'll see famous, successful people talk about how they did terribly in school, yet went on to become very successful. In the setting I work, many kids are not meant for school, but for other reasons: lack of discipline, respect, determination, etc. A colleague's son is definitely an example in the classic sense of not being built for a traditional school setting, and I can guarantee that this kid will really go places. If you think out of the box, I feel school is a difficult environment for some kids, as their differences are not readily accepted by the student body at large. I also think that many of our students should be in more of a vocational setting, than an academic one.

Do you think African-American and Hispanic students automatically discount white teachers because the students feel the teacher can't relate to them?

Asked by J. Delson over 10 years ago

What a great question! I think initially white teachers have to prove themselves tenfold to gain their trust and not feel as though they can't relate to them...and some teachers cannot relate to them, which always causes animosity and drama. Many times, word of mouth helps; if you have freshmen one year, they might hear from upper classmen that you are "cool" or that you aren't. The funny thing is that I hear all the time from the kids that they think I live in a "mansion" in a "white" town and I have to explain to them that I have trouble paying my bills, just like everyone may be on a different scale but typically they think that we have no issues with money or owning luxury items. I mean, I drive a ten year old car and haven't taken a vacation in many years. They enjoy teaching you the "lingo" that they speak and if you are open and honest and don't try to be "down", then they seem, at least in my case, to readily accept you. Growing up in NYC, I think, helps me to relate to them, whereas when I tell my friends strories of what goes on everyday, they are appalled at what I tell them. I guess after awhile, race and color go out the window and we are all alike, in many respects. That has been one of the best lessons I have learned...we ARE the same in MANY repsects. Because I don't add "yo" in every other sentence doesn't mean I can't relate to them and have them trust me. The best compliment is if you are considered "cool" which simply means you have no preconceived notions about them, and they of you.

Assuming they're the minority in your school, do the white students feel intimidated? Do they get bullied any more or less than other races?

Asked by Al Falfa over 10 years ago

There are no white students in our school. Not one. It's about 75-25 Hispanic to black, which has changed greatly over the past few years with a strong influx of Dominican students to the city. There does seem to be a pecking order, however, within the Hispanic community, and even the black students: who is Dominican, who is Puerto Rican, who is Peruvian, who is Colombian, who is Mexican. With the black population, it's who is Jamaican, who is black who grew up in this country. It gets a bit crazy, and sometimes during the course of the year there are fights between the races, but nothing that really alarms anyone. There still is a large white population amongst the teachers, though. If a light-skinned Hispanic student is mistaken for white, they immediately put that to rest. It truly is a universe unto itself.

Has working with students ever given you any *business* ideas? Have you thought of pursuing any on the side? Gotta think working w/teens all day would allow you to identify all kinds of trends that the average office worker isn't privy to.

Asked by smokey jones over 10 years ago

The school in which I work is an entity unto itself. I feel as though they are so isolated in their own environment, that I really don't see any trends they they start. In fact, I've waited years for the trend of sagging pants to go away, and I do think that is starting to diminish, thank goodness!! I do, however, write everyday and feel as though my experiences would make a phenomenal HBO series or book. When I show my writings to friends, they constantly tell me that "What? That really happened? You HAVE to write a book!" Any screenwriters out there??? :) The things I see everyday would make your toes curl. (and I'm not just talking about the kids...the faculty and administration are literally from another realm, too)

do you think home schooling is effective, or a terrible idea?

Asked by mama may i over 10 years ago

I'm not a big fan of home schooling, as it limits the child's socialization skills. I suppose if you come from a very big family and llive in a rural area, it might work, but it's not my thing. By not being in a school setting, I feel that a home-schooler misses out on all the experiences school provides, good and bad.

You mentioned Hispanic kids using the n-word. Do black students ever take offense to that?

Asked by K.G. over 10 years ago

Unbelievably's more of an accepted noun that seems incredible to me and probably to anyone else who doesn't live in this environment. You don't hear it as much from the Hispanic kids, but I have heard it enough and have never seen a black kid take offense to it. Crazy, right???

Do you have a lot of kids who talk all ghetto but when they write, they write with stellar grammar, spelling, and structure?

Asked by brokenarrow over 10 years ago

If only that would be true...the truth is that if they speak ghetto, they write ghetto. Even the "upper crust" kids write with incorrect grammar, which drives me crazy. I haven't seen anything "stellar" in any classroom, ever. They just get pushed trhough grade after grade, when in a perfect world, they would get the instruction they need and teachers would not be pressured by administration to pass kids through.