>I have seriously failed you as a teacher. Please dock my paycheck.

>This is why I am strongly against teachers pay being based on student performance:

In Language Arts we are currently in the middle of our Tolerance and the Holocaust unit. We have been reading articles about the Holocaust, watching videos about the Holocaust, talking about the Holocaust, writing about the Holocaust and… well you get the picture.

Last week we read and talked about Nazi Propaganda. One of our articles mentioned the 1936 Olympics which lead to a brief discussion about Jesse Owens. Today we went back to that article and I had my students do an independent comprehension check over a reading on Jesse Owens. Before I gave the kids the article, I showed them power point slides of Jesse Owens running in the Olympics and of Jesse Owens on the podium with his medals. We talked about the racism that was prevalent in the US at the time, and how, although he had limited rights in the US, Jesse Owens was selected to compete for the 1936 US Olympic team.

The students then read a short bio on Jesse Owens, completed a timeline of events from the reading and finally answered some multiple choice questions. When the students were finished, I reread the article to the kids, and we went over the timeline. We then corrected their papers discussing each of the multiple choice questions. All seemed well.

Ten minutes later, a student gets a very puzzled look on her face and says, “So, Jesse Owens was German?” and the following conversation transpired:

Me- “Where did the article say Jesse Owens was born?… Yep, it says here he was born in Alabama.”

Student-“So he was German?”

Me- “No. He wasn’t German. He was born in Alabama. Alabama is in the United States.”

Student- “Oh. So why did he go to Germany?”

Me- “Did you read the story?”

Student- “It was confusing. Did he move to Germany?”

Me- (while pantomiming each word)- “He-went-to-Germany-to-compete-in-the-Olympics. He-ran-really-fast, won-four-gold-medals, then-flew-back-to-the-United-States-because-this-is-where-he-lived.”

Student-“Oh. So why did he go to Germany? I thought the Olympics were in Canada?”

Me- “This year they were in Canada, but the Olympics are held in different countries each time. In 1936 the Olympics were held in Germany.”

Another student- “Wait! This was in 1936? They had Olympics way back then?”

Skip ahead to several minutes later with I’m pretty sure everything has been cleared up. The first student, gets that confused look on her face once more. And when she can’t take it anymore, she blurts out, “Miss Lewis… E- just told me that Jesse Owens was black!”


2 responses to “>I have seriously failed you as a teacher. Please dock my paycheck.

  1. >I'm an education major, and I love your blog! If you don't mind my asking, why did you choose to teach 8th graders? My Intro to Education professor told us to stay out of middle school classrooms.

  2. >Torey, Thanks for reading. I could probably write a 10 page response to your comment, but I'll try to just give you the basics. I had always planned to teach high school, but when jobs are scarce and you are desperate to get your foot in the door, you smile and say "thank you" when a job opens up.Eighth grade is such an awkward age. You couldn't pay me enough to relive my 8th grade year. So what keeps me here? The relationships I build with my students. Although the majority of my students are taller than me, and smell like BO masked in a cloud of Axe, they are funny, desperate to learn- though they'd never admit it, and just want to feel like they belong somewhere. 8th graders may talk a big game, but you have to remember they are just kids.If you find one thing to like about each of your kids, it will make a world of difference. Make a connection with your students, treat them with respect- especially when they don't deserve it, and they will come around. Good luck to you, and if you really want to be an educator, you have to find the right fit for you.

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