We teachers, well I often think, we are an unusual (Ok a bit weird) bunch. I followed a brilliant blog for a while, written by an American teacher. He was great. He clearly loved his class, although I am pretty sure, he would deny it. It was raw and real. I loved the film Freedom Writers for the same reason. It is based on a real teacher, Erin Gruwell.
I actually remember having conversations a bit similar to this with some of my students. In fact watching it, renewed my passion for education.
The first thing I would often tell my students was that no matter what else was going on in their lives, here they were safe. I discovered how literal I was about that, the day I had stood under a helicopter, trying to land in our playground, as I was shooing my class away to protect them, while my hair had stood straight in the air. (Long story)
I once had a mother cheerfully give me a bag of chips for the class party, whilst telling me the child’s father might be wandering around with a gun. I had marvelled at her calm and the calm of her son. It taught me a lot but I had spent the entire day fearfully watching the door. The lesson I learned served me well, when I had also found myself in a similarly difficult and potentially dangerous situation.
I once attended traffic school with a class, who were clearly disinterested. I remembered the promise I had made to myself, when I had watched the little white coffin of one of my students. I told the children to pay attention. I told them my story. They had looked on in horror and I had got into trouble but I might just have saved a life.
I love the way she gives it to them straight. The film is based on a real teacher, Erin Gruwell, who turned lives around.