oh no you di’ent… what not to say to a teacher in the hood

Today in class, while discussing the meaning of condescending, one of my students exclaimed:

Miss, you should blog about that!

Some background as to why she would say that.

  • To inspire a community of writers in my classroom, I have made a conscious choice to share with my kiddos my writing. For example, I have talked with them about how writing has been my redemption since my Mom died.
  • To bring up the topic of transitioning as seniors, I printed and brought in this post for the class to read and discuss.
  • To be transparent about how much I care for them, I talk frequently about how I write about them.
  • To model growth and self-reflection, I share about how writing allows me to think about how I can be a better teacher.
  • To promote excitement about writing, I have shared my recent success on one of my posts being Freshly Pressed.

And what exactly we were discussing as I tried to define both the denotation and connotation of condescending is how often I get that very tone of response when I identify where I teach. Those in my zip code proximity realize the “urban” nature of my school, so when I declare my teaching position, I often encounter the innocent  and cute-but patronizing-responses of those who do not understand the world in which I work flourish.

So with that in mind, I’d like to try my hand at a countdown.

Here are the top 11 things never to say to someone who chooses to teach in the hood:

  1. Oh…
  2. Wow, that must be hard. I don’t know how you do it. Wouldn’t it be easier in a “better” school?
  3. They have Advanced Placement there?
  4. You must have the patience of a saint. -or- Oh, well, you have a special place in Heaven.
  5. <insert awkward silence here punctuated by a captious stare>
  6. When will you move on?
  7. How are those kids, anyways?
  8. You must not get parent support.
  9. Is it dangerous? Are you scared?
  10. Wouldn’t someone who looks like you benefit more from having you as a teacher? Wouldn’t someone who looks more like them benefit them more?
  11. It’s a shame such great teachers are wasted on <insert negative stereotype here>.

To retort all 11 of these–as well as the bazillion I didn’t type here but many educators can testify to–let it be known…

I wake up everyday blessed to teach where I do, with the kids I have. They are the most loyal, most tenacious, most growing bunch of learners–and they teach and inspire me more than I ever do them. 

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. DM
    Mar 06, 2014 @ 14:51:37

    Since I’m a newbe here..wondering if you would mind putting a link to your freshly pressed post? The link in this article just takes me back to Freshly Pressed home page. Danka!



  2. edpeters06
    Mar 06, 2014 @ 17:04:26

    The assumption that kids are “better” in other kinds of schools upsets me. I have heard stereotypes of that before, which always bothers me. I just hope I do justice to my students in explaining just how untrue and sad that statement is.

    I think it is awesome your students inspire your writing! xo



  3. Nonlinear Jenn
    Mar 07, 2014 @ 00:32:15

    I love how you work to combat preconceived notions about the population that you teach. It sounds like you work with amazing kids.



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