Thursday, March 29, 2012

Captured: Warriors Event

We successfully put on our biggest school event of the year!  'Warriors: Past, Present, and Future' started with short activities related to Black History, followed by an open mic show, followed by food and a student art gallery in the lobby.  We had about 70 attendees and had a lot of positive feedback.

Lessons learned:
- Consider and communicate behavior expectations and consequences before the event.
- Test all technology in advance.
- Involve as many groups of people so it becomes students empowering students, not a random event of us adults pushing our own agenda.  We ended up involving social studies students, the drumline, art students, and the Senior Council. 

Drumline! Later, about 30 students performed original or favorite poetry or hip hop.

International Black Leaders scavenger hunt

Harlem Renaissance poetry station 

Students picking up their artwork from the Harlem Renaissance room

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Printed: Teacher Salary

The Gates Foundation just released a report on the teaching profession:

According to the report, the average teacher works 10 hours and 40 minutes a day. Say the average teacher salary is about $42,000 and the average school year length is 41 weeks - that puts teachers making $19.20 per hour.

According to CNN, a "gas pumping station operator" makes $21.50 per hour.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Words: Anonymous Extraordinaries

One of the best TED Talks I've ever seen, and she's younger than me.  If you want to be inspired to go out and change the world, watch this.

"What fuels a movement are the anonymous extraordinaries behind it."

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Rambling: Cop Profiling

I was so struck by a story that someone on my IJ team shared recently.  Rita* is the sweetest person you've ever met, tough on the outside for about a milisecond until she smiles or talks and you see that she has the warmest heart in the world.  She grew up in a 'rough part' of LA and said once she was outside, sweeping, while her brother and some of his friends were hanging out in the lawn.  Cops that were driving by randomly stopped, got out of the car, and made them all line up with their hands up while they searched them.  The whole experience and attitude of the cops was degrading, rude, and humiliating.

When Rita told them that she was back visiting from a college (a 4-year liberal arts college in Iowa, not community college, she corrected them) the cops were shocked.  Rita also went on to say that they had no reason to stop and search them and that they acted simply on the appearance of her, her brother, and his friends.  The cops apologized and left.  I imagine it as a a cat chasing a mouse who would stop and leave, surprised, when it realizes that the 'mouse' is also a cat, an equal.  

It makes me angry to think about someone passing judgements on Rita or acting like she's scum, and it makes me angrier to think about the fact that this happens all the time.  Rita said she was particularly struck by how her brother and his friends acted - totally not surprised, they knew the routine as if it happens to them regularly.  We need cops patrolling areas of violence, but their attitude should be pride in protecting and uplifting the people, not pride in having power over the people.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Words: Career Coaching

"What do you want to do when you're older?"
"I don't know, I just want to be successful."
"Well everyone wants to be successful, what makes the difference is if you have a plan.  So, what sort of job do you want to have?"
"I don't know, I just want to have a really successful job.  Like, I see those people downtown going to work in those buildings in suits, and I don't know what they do."

Conversation with a sophomore that was a STRONG reminder that our kids don't have the context to be able to identify many career choices.  I get frustrated hearing "rapper, pro-athlete, or lawyer" as their life plans all the time, but it's simply because they don't know what other options there are. It's not their fault.  

So, what can we do?  We might take a few students to visit our sponsor's bank, which I imagine would be very eye-opening for them.  Eventually, I'd lovvvve to have a strong career focus in my future classroom, especially with younger students since they likely get it the least.  Monthly field trips to 'shadow' a professional? Bring in as many guest speakers as possible? Provide career-aptitude quizzes simply to help envision the wide range of careers?  It doesn't matter if we teach our students every fact and skill possible if they don't know the steps needed to secure a job and apply the skills after graduation!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Words: Change the World

"Ms. Lewis, have you heard about all the fights lately? It always happens when the weather gets warm."
"Yeah... I wish there were more activities for kids in the neighborhood to do after school."
"Yeah, since there's nothing else to do, kids just grow up thinking that violence is fun."
"How about let's change the world together, Jerome."
"You already do change the world, Ms. Lewis, by helping so many kids."


Printed: Pink Slime

This week's hot topic: pink slime in cafeterias.  If you haven't read about it yet, do it.  There's also an interesting (and dramatic) video:

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Friday, March 9, 2012

Captured: Ripples of Hope

Jean Claud Brizzard, new CEO of Chicago Public Schools
Ripples of Hope is our biggest annual fundraiser.  This year, we honored Jean Claud Brizzard and Frank Clark (CEO of ComEd.  He's on  He's also a super inspiring, humble, and caring self-made millionaire.)  Two students spoke to the huge audience about their positive experiences with City Year <3  And I cried when Lisa gave her last speech.  Typical.

I sat at my team sponsor's table (BMO Harris Bank) with Ellen Costello (who I love), Andy Plews, and some other cool cats.  It's so refreshing to be reminded that there are so many others out there pulling for these kids in the ways that they can.  I'm sure that all my business and sponsor interactions over these 2 years will serve me well as a teacher (which I would have never thought twice about before).

Conversation with a BMO exec: "Well that will be good for you when you're a principal."  "...What?"  "Oh I can already tell you'll be a great principal one day."  :-)

My family

Rambling: Homeless

The homeless people in the city have been breaking my heart more than usual lately. Every time I just think about how that could be my kids' future, after years of poverty, dysfunctional school systems, possible neglect or trauma at home, no substantial health, sex, or technology education, a lack of career counseling, and generally feeling that society does not respect or want them.

Most memorable was the man on the train recently who was not asking for money, but asking for people to take and read his resume.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Printed: Mountains Beyond Mountains

Ok, there is just too much goodness in Mountains Beyond Mountains.  I had to dump my favorite quotes somewhere, so here they are:

"'Political work is interesting to me, and it has to be done,' he said...
'Well then, do it,' Paul said.
'But didn't we always say that people who go into policy make a preferential option for their own ideas? For their own sorry asses?'
'Yeah, but Jim, we trust you with power.  We know you won't betray the poor.'" p174

"At moments like that, I thought that what he wanted was to erase both time and geography, connecting all parts of his life and tying them instrumentally to a world in which he saw intimate, inescapable connections between the gleaming corporate offices of Paris and New York and a legless man lying on the mud floor of a hut in the remotest part of remote Haiti." p218

"Diplomacy and data and personal charm, he seemed to say, could win over all sides." p232

"Paul is a model of what should be done.  He's not a model for how it has to be done.  Let's celebrate him.  Let's make sure people are inspired by him.  But we can't say anybody should or could be just like him." p244

"As for Ti Fifi's fear that parents would besiege Zanmi Lasante with demands that their sick child be flown to Boston, too, nothing like that occurred... I asked Zanmi Lasante's chief handyman what the people in the region were saying about the case.  He told me that everyone talked about it.  'And you know what they say? They say, 'Look how much they care about us.'" p278