Having completed The Lounge back in November, my classroom was about as finished as I could get it. Time and budget constraints restricted what I was able to accomplish, so I left well enough alone knowing that I would exceed what I did when September came. Nevertheless, there was one thing I could do to add a bit of panache to the classroom—add a colorful new banner. Continue Reading
A child inscribed “Mr. Scott is a ni**a, a b***h a** ni**a” into the wooden window ledge. That’s serious. Or, is it? I realize the child who scrawled their discontent permanently into the wood was merely expressing their frustration with me. It most likely stemmed from my insistence on their doing homework, or respecting the class rules, or something else they interpreted as “mean.”
What’s truly serious is my role and responsibility as a teacher. Not just a teacher, but a male teacher of color. In the inner city. I’m a minority in many respects when it comes to the education field, nevertheless I teach as if I had the support of millions of individuals just like myself to buoy me up. I’m not in my school just to teach, but to be a role model, a consistent male image, a father figure, a professional, a leader, a sage, a coach, a resource, and so many other things. That’s serious.
I asked my students if they thought it possible to regrow stumps of lettuce that were destined for the trash. The stumps were declared garbage—they wouldn’t be used for juicing, compost, vegetable stamp prints, or anything else. Some students thought there was at least a possibility of some activity and some students simply wanted to see what I had up my sleeve. Having been my students for a while, they knew I didn’t ask a simple question. Continue Reading
The unofficial theme for my afterschool class on Thursdays is clean because it’s Yoga day. Everything has to be refreshingly clean, tidy, and in order—before class and after class. That ensures a sanitary environment for the students and myself. Continue Reading
Recently I’ve found that more than discipline, referrals, suspension, and medication, many underperforming inner city children need one simple thing to increase their performance—access. Access to what? Access to anything their better-off (or well-to-do) counterparts have access to. While I’m not a clinician or therapist, my cursory assessments of the children I’ve taught over the years has made it clear that their behavior problems could be reasonably curtailed, over time, when these children simply have access to things. Continue Reading
My students reside in low-income parts of Brooklyn, NY, where options are limited and exposure to the arts is rudimentary, if it happens at all. The Executive Director of my school insisted that he wanted my students to have what the schools in Park Slope and Brooklyn Heights have in their schools. I have to admit that’s a tall order! We have neither the budget nor the staff, the infrastructure nor the support, so I was tasked with pulling a rabbit out of a hat to fulfill that lofty ideal. Continue Reading