A calling ...

"We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims."

"Make the world work for 100% of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone."

- Buckminster Fuller

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Poor concentration: Poverty reduces brainpower needed for navigating other areas of life

Poor concentration: Poverty reduces brainpower needed for navigating other areas of life

One of the "best practices" setup tasks on my getting ready for Tuesday list in preparation for the first day of school involves listing "books" that I am reading. A non-conformist, rather than simply listing hardcopy or ebooks, I view this requirement from school administration as an opportunity to communicate my core belief to incoming 6th graders that the purpose of literacy, or mathematics for that matter, is to enable people to participate in a conversation that spans from the beginning or recorded history to today. Reading, or doing mathematics for that matter, in my view, is not a one way street with knowledge coming down from a mountaintop, with the reader merely a passive consumer of information. Rather, I have long viewed reading as a 2-way communication process in which the reader becomes, ideally, an equal participant, fully capable of responding, and in fact, having a duty to respond or not respond to what an author has been communicated. The decision to respond or not respond and to what degree should be fully conscious decisions on the part of the reader, through a filtering process.

Having been exposed to the benefits of adaptive technology through my training as a special educator, I no longer totally mentally segregate reading, or the consumption of information paper or ebooks, from audiobooks to which I can listen repeatedly on my Smart Phone. As I plan my response to this request from administration, I envision using Mind Mapping software and including book covers on my "What I am reading" poster, along with brief attractive blurbs intended to draw out a response from students, and hopefully attract students to want to become readers.

One of the categories I plan to include on my poster under an email icon will be items that my dad sends me that have found his desktop via his global network. The link between poverty and education is something that every educator in a high poverty school deals with on a daily basis. Ironically, as was the case when I got my first teaching opportunity in 2007, high poverty schools is often where opportunities open up for the teachers least equipped to dealing with cognitive problems associated with poverty, not least of which, include speech and language delays, which I suspect are rooted in the lack of daily talk between young working mothers and their infants, too often single mothers themselves just struggling to survive. The cumulative affect known as the "Matthew Effect," i.e., the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, is a root cause of the performance gap we find on state level testing, as well as nationally, and is well-documented.

But now is not the time. I need to take care of me so that I can take care of others. Time to hit the gym for the first time since last Sunday. I shut down my classroom at 10pm last night, after not being able to sleep and waking up at 1am to prepare for Day 1 and arriving at 8am for training on setting up my gradebook. I had no competition for the copier at 7pm and copied all the curriculum materials as well as classroom management documents provided to me by my awesome team! Truly, in different schools, I have not thrived professionally, whereas in Dr.P's school, my 6th grade Administrator, my Special Education Chair, they seem to get me. To the gym I go, then to dinner to celebrate finally getting a job.

Hallelujah!