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I am a high school English teacher in an urban high school in Oklahoma City. I am a member of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 2309. I am a Democrat, a union activist and a worker for social justice. I also am a Christian (Congregationalist). I play chess and coach our school chess team.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Orderly classroom or "School to Prison Pipeline"?

Actually 3 days this time
It was a rough start to the week, but I got through it. I began the week battling another bout of depression, but I decided that I would work through it rather than take another day off and lose another day of instruction for the students.  I got through it by doing a few things I read about in articles on depression: listening to music, went for evening walks, got to bed early, read some good books (Walden for one). 

The week went fairly well with the students, and I thought that this would be one of the good ones.

However, on Friday, things turned confrontational with some of my students.  The objective for the week was to write an essay comparing and contrasting two similar stories: one by Langston Hughes, the other by yours truly.  The Hughes story was "Salvation", a story about a time he was in a revival service and was pressured into saying that he was "saved", which he felt was a lie.  My story "Camp Meeting" was about a time I attended a week long camp in north Texas where I began to question the evangelical experience for the first time, which led to my present attitude to evangelicalism altogether.

Some students make it impossible for the rest to learn

The problem came when several students refused to follow the class procedures I needed to get them started on the project. These include no "side-bar" interpersonal conversations, raise hands before talking, put away electronic devices and ear buds, and pay attention to the instructions.  Several of the more rowdy students began passive-aggressive behavior (raising hands and speaking out without permission). Others were outright defiant. All together about 6 or 7 students had to be escorted out of class for the rest to proceed in peace.

So, was this another example of the so-called "school to prison pipeline?" Or was this my attempt to save students from a bleak future by creating a classroom environment in which authentic learning could take place.

What do you think? 

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