Thursday, April 28, 2011

Equity Sticks

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What's In a Name?

Many elementary school teachers have a jar or cup of popsicle sticks, with one student's name written on each stick.  This enables you to eliminate all bias in calling on kids, or just not have to think as much. Instead of calling on the kid who always has her hand up or who sits in the front, you pick the name and there you go.  It's a common practice and I thought nothing of it when I started at this new school.

Then one of the teachers asked me if I had "equity sticks" in my classroom.  Equity sticks?  Really?  I didn't know what she meant at first but it soon became obvious.  Actually, they're just popsicle sticks.  Maybe name sticks.  Craft sticks.  Wooden sticks.

I can't say equity sticks without sounding ridiculous.  Actually, I don't think anyone can call popsicle sticks "equity sticks" without sounding ridiculously pompous.

One year ago: What's in a Name?

Four years ago: Payday?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Why We Don't Like Standardized Tests

People always ask me why teachers don't like standardized tests.  They seem surprised that we "don't want accountability.  That's not it.  Here's an excellent example of why many teachers do not like standardized tests.
It's well worth a read.

Three years ago: A Tip for New Parents

Four years ago: Scientific Proof for my Burnout
                        Too Many Children

Five years ago: Move Over, George Washington!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Today My Students Said...

  • "My birthday is May 35th." (5-year old)
  • "I would like to build a house out of poison crayons.   The crayons would have spikes and when they embedded in your skin, your flesh would turn black and you'd die." (10-year old)
  • "I know we're talking about the solar system, but do you think that a man sitting in his prison cell who had taken someone else's life could still go to heaven if he died there in his cell?" (15-year old)
and, my favorite line of the day, which I actually had to say:

  • "I'm not joking.  The answer to number three really is "There are rings around Uranus."
Wow.  Wow.

Five years ago: Frustrations

Monday, April 25, 2011

I Really Don't Know What You're Going to Do

One of the many, many principals that we had (mostly bad), Principal Five was one of the special ones.  She wasn't outright racist like Principle Four, but she was completely usless.  This is what I wrote about Principal Five a few years ago:

Principal Five: After the disastrous P4, we thought that maybe the district would get a clue. They picked someone who was not bad in any of the same ways as P4, but was still bad. Example: My classroom wasn't cleaned and it was the last day that we had before school started, as P5 lived almost two hours away and wasn't coming in on the weekend. I told her that my classroom was still messy and dirty and there was no way it would be ready for kids on the first day of school. She looked at a space right past my head so that she wasn't looking me in the eye and said, "I really don't know what you're going to do," and walked off. She also had a limp-fish kind of handshake and a tendency to walk away when she knew you were trying to talk to her. She'd do that with kids, parents, and staff - just walk away like you weren't even there. She had completely ineffective discipline. I don't think I ever saw her smile.

I recently heard another story about a teacher who came from across the country to teach at our school.  She was allowed in her classroom the day before school as well.  She, naturally asked the principal to show her the classroom.  The principal's response?  "I'm busy."  Wow.  Way to build staff community.

Five years ago: Roving Classrooms (Or: New Teacher Hazing)
                        Kids Say the Weirdest Things

Friday, April 22, 2011

If You Don'/t Start Working on Your Fractions...

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Lockdowns and Fractions

We've had a lockdown at least once a year since I've been at this school, for various reasons. A lockdown is when something dangerous is going on outside the school or in the school, so all the teachers lock the doors, pull down the blinds, get the kids away from the door, and wait for instructions. Depending on the principal, some of them have tried different codes so the kids won't be scared: the most popular is "Mr. Keys is in the building." Aside from the kids who thought that must be Alicia Keys' father, they wouldn't have caught on, except that there are always so many new teachers that this has to be followed with, "So please lock your doors, don't let children out, move them away from the doors and windows..."

Most of them don't last that long. I think my first lockdown was because some bank robbers from San Francisco led police on a high speed chase which ended in front of our school. Once it was because of a custody battle, during which a father called and said if we wouldn't give him his child, he was going to "come start shooting." (The police refused to respond to that one, but that's a different story). A couple times it's been because of a shooting in the neighborhood. The longest one was a few years back and lasted for about 3 hours, and involved someone setting a carburetor shop (or something similar) on fire, I think killing the owner and threatening to throw grenades at police. At least, I think that was what happened.

The one we had a few weeks ago showed me that I am way too used to these things. You've got to keep the kids focused on school or else they get scared - rightfully so - and start wondering aloud if their mom was shot, etc. So, I was teaching them fractions and when one of them interrupted to say he was scared I said, "You know I would never let anything happen to you - the door's locked, the outer door's locked, and I'll take care of you anyway, because you're my kids." Kept teaching. A different kid who likes to cause problems started talking about the first kid should be scared, and I kind of lost it. I went over to the antagonistic child and said, very seriously and calmly, "You know that you don't need to be scared of anyone getting in because I won't let them. But you might want to be scared of what will happen if you don't start working on your fractions in my classroom when I have both your parents' phone numbers."

The whole class sat up straight, folded their hands and paid attention. Apparently I have more authority than a man with a gun. When I apologized, one of the kids said, "Oh, we know it's cause you love us and you not playing when you want us to get an education."

I realized that night that I was obviously too used to lockdowns because I never even though to ask what the situation was. I'm from Petaluma. Never thought that would be the kind of thing to get routine.

Note about fractions: doesn't matter what area you're teaching in, kids learn fractions better if you turn the fractions into desserts. For example: "If you have a pan of brownies and divide the pan into four big brownies..." "If you have a pie and cut it into three pieces..."


jessamynit said...
"You know that you don't need to be scared of anyone getting in because I won't let them. But you might want to be scared of what will happen if you don't start working on your fractions in my classroom when I have both your parents' phone numbers." I'm sorry, but that's hilarious.
Three years ago: A Sign From God
Five years ago: Lockdowns and Fractions

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Service Day

This is a teachers' workroom/conference room- how it looked BEFORE a group of us volunteered (through my church) to fix it up.  It took about 7 hours, a lot of IKEA furniture and trips to the dumpster, and some careful planning of how things could fit, but this is what we ended up with:

I hope they liked it.  Teachers really should have nice spaces to work in and children should have nice places to learn in.  It makes a big difference.

Five years ago: Strike Aftermath and Fallout
                        Off Topic: My Art

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My Feelings on Guns

 Friday, April 20, 2007


I hate guns. I hate them.

I know that we have the Second Amendment in this country, and that there are many people who would shoot me for their freedom to carry guns. I don't know the statistics to argue for gun control or tougher background checks. I don't know why the US has such a high percentage of homicides by firearms compared to other developed nations. I just know that I hate them.

With all this talk about the shooting at Virginia Tech, it's been interesting - and disheartening - to hear what the kids have to say. None of them seem shocked. Instead of shock, their reaction seemed to be a deep empathy and sadness. In fact, one little girl told me in the same sentence that she had seen the VT shooting on the news and that her neighbors (other kids at the school) almost got caught in a shooting that injured another student's cousin. (The cousin, who is about 15 years old, was shot in the stomach but is recovering). The girl telling me about it had a resigned look that showed that she was used to these kinds of things.

Now, I'm not in any way trying to minimize the Virginia Tech tragedy. I hate that this kid passed whatever kind of background check there is for gun buying. I hate that school shootings are becoming so common and that no one knows what to do about it. I hate everything about it.

However, I feel like we should also be outraged and shocked about what these kids see every day. Almost every single one of my students has seen someone shot - a neighbor or a relative. This last shooting was described to me by a student as "someone trying to shoot a guy but he jumped out the way and they shot "Joy's" (a fourth grader) cousin instead and they almost got "Juana" (a first grader). And I was scared and I wish bad things didn't happen where I live."

Another student saw her cousin fatally shot - in the face - while she was in my class several years back. It was a gang killing and the killers were never caught. The little girl stayed up all night while everyone around her freaked out; when she came to school the next day, she couldn't stop shaking. There were no resources to help her - that, at least has gotten marginally better. She just kept shaking in the classroom.

There are many more examples - one little girl's dad was shot and killed while she was in my class. Another boy's dad was stabbed to death - again, they came to school the next day. There was just nothing else to do. I've gotten notes that say, "Teacher I'm sorry she didn't do her homework, the gangs was shooting last night and we was hiding in the closet." Or the bathtub - they put the kids in the bathtub or the closet so that bullets have more barriers to get through.

That's not even including all the lockdowns I've been in during my eight years at my school. Have I listed those yet? I can't remember. But no one worries about these kids or these shootings. Why? Because they're poor? Because they're black and Latino? People still argue with me about if Oakland is dangerous or not. I've had people - who live in the hills, where it's nice, white, and affluent - tell me that there aren't bad parts of Oakland, that that's just made up to make the city look bad.

I think we should count what these kids have to see and experience in the same way we'd count it if rich white students coming from educated families had to go through it. I think my kids should count as having the same worth as the others. I don't know why I seem to be in the minority with this view.

Two years ago: Literal vs. Figurative

Four years ago: Guns

Five years ago: Strike is Off!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Don't Dress Your Girls Like Tramps

I've written about this before, but this is another interesting article about the oversexualization of little girls.  I really can't help but think it is harmful to these little girls to get to dress this way.  And It makes me absolutely crazy when parents say "But I can't tell her what to do."  Or "She won't wear anything else."  Really?  Does she have the money to buy her own clothes?  If not, you're in charge.  And usually in elementary schools they don't have their own source of income.

One year ago: More Journals

Five years ago: Homicides

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sad Reality

Today I was taking my Little Sister to the library and I had another realization that her life is much different than it should be at 7 years old.  I had gotten a bunch of cute polar bear cards in the mail from some wildlife group and asked if she wanted them.  She said, "Yes.  I can send them to my daddy in prison because I don't know when I'll ever see him again."

Very matter-of-fact.  She has no idea there's something drastically wrong with that statement.

Four years ago: Thing Number 47 I Won't Miss About Teaching Here
                         Stuck in My Head
                         Blackie the Horse

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Student Writing

I love seeing improvement in students, so here's one of my favorites:

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Writing Improvement!

I thought I'd share a success story - this is about a kid who got held back in first grade and convinced himself he was stupid (his word) and fairly worthless. He's actually very smart (one of those who is too smart for his own good) and understands higher-level concepts than most third graders, but I think he may have some sort of processing problem that makes it harder for him to read and write. Anyway, he finally started believing that he could do the work and working at it and after much hard work and patience, he got the most improved writer award for the last trimester!

Here are samples of his writing from October, January, and March. Look at the picture, even the handwriting is like it's from a different child. Each writing sample was supposed to be a paragraph.

to mack a friend isto be nice and to shar and to play with thim sumtimes give thim toys

It's adout a place where a lot of ducks lives. The boy told his dad and thay wint to the wood ond the boy wated to tall hisfriend odou want he sow it was a lot of baby ducks. and the story the dad was biger thin the mom

The author wanted us to know, that your family is more important than money, because you would not be in this wrld and you not be, at a fun ealss like thas school and as much fun in thas Grass thas, so fun! to be in and you can Read and rite and do math and it as a lot of stuffto do.

Yes, we still have a lot of work to do, but it's SO much better.

Five years ago: Writing Improvement

Thursday, April 14, 2011

In Praise of a Middle School

I wanted to re-post this in honor of the great teachers at Urban Promise Middle School.  I haven't been back since this post, but it was just so wonderful...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Difference a School Makes


I've talked before about the two kids that a friend and I hang out with, or I guess you could say "mentor" in a way. I'm forgetting the pseudonyms I have them so I'll call them Jorge (the older one) and Luis (the younger). I had Jorge in my class in third grade and he has had it rough. He's the oldest of six children and was born when his mother was 14. His mom is frequently in rehab or jail, although she seems to have been out for the last couple of years. If she's clean or not is anyone's guess. Jorge helped raise Luis, at their grandmother's house (the rest of the kids live with other relatives). He's always been super over-responsible, stressed out, and had way too many adult responsibilities.

About a year ago, Jorge started to crack. He was 13, which isn't fun at the best of times, he finally didn't have to look after his younger brother so much, his mom and dad were both separately getting involved in his life but then flaking out when he needed them, and he started fighting with his grandmother. Oh, and he was dating a 16 year old who wasn't going to school and looked like she was at least 18. He got rude and insulting (never to us but he said some pretty awful things to his mother and grandmother). He started breaking things when he was angry, and knocking over chairs and tables.

In the middle of this, he got into trouble at school. Jorge was going to a large, old middle school that is desperately trying to overcome its reputation as a bad school, and not succeeding. I've never heard anyone say anything good about it or send their kids there for any reason other than they just didn't know there were other options. He wanted to be a thug and started dressing and acting like your stereotypical wannabe gangster. And even a gangster in training in this neighborhood is terrifying.

His teachers looked for any excuse possible to kick Jorge out of class. And he gave them plenty, from flicking rubber bands at people to wrestling in the hall to talking back to telling a teacher that he had a gun (he didn't). At one point, the school tried to expel him (a DHP for those of you in the industry) but my friend and I brought him to the hearing and the teacher and principal didn't show, so Jorge "won." We also went to a meeting with his counselor and acting principal and explained his home situation, how he was desperately behind and wasn't getting the help he needed and how that contributed to him acting out (it's way less humiliating to get kicked out of class for threatening a teacher than it is to have everyone see you can read very well), etc. Both the principal and the counselor promised to do everything in their power to get him the help he needed in the form of counseling, extra math and reading help, checking on him personally, and helping him get organized. They gave us their email addresses and phone numbers and urged us to follow up. Then they never responded to one of our (many) follow-up inquiries.

I'm not sure how much I can blame the administration and teachers on this one. Knowing this child as I do, and knowing what is at his heart if you can get to it, it frustrates me immensely that they didn't take the time and energy to really see what was going on. Jorge is very sensitive to respect or the lack of it (as many kids are) and knew that his teachers did not respect him, nor did they have time for him. Also, I'm really frustrated by the counselor and adminstrator making promises that they didn't/couldn't keep.

I also understand, however, what they're up against. They have a school full of kids who are statistically almost certain not to succeed and are facing less funding and support with more mandates. I know how exhausting it is in every way to really give these kids what they need, which is a LOT. But I did it for eight years, and when I couldn't do it any more, I left. I can't tell if being in a similar situation makes me more or less empathetic to the teachers, actually.


In a nutshell: Jorge at old school: slouching, rude, hood over his face, pants sagging down to his knees, face always either in a scowl or laughing at someone else's expense (he was getting mean, and that is not who he is) -- someone who the teachers wanted OUT.

Imagine my surprise when I get a phone call from the assistant principal at his new school saying that Jorge told him that he had this third grade teacher and other adult in his life. Over the next week, I got positive emails from Jorge's principal, assistant principal, counselor, and a couple of teachers. Seems like the minute they met him, they somehow saw his potential, and he responded. (Really, I PROMISE, kids will live up -- or down -- to your expectations). In email after email, I read that he was respectful, on time, working hard, etc. Even the email talking about how disorganized he was involved him accepting help in getting more organized!!! And each person seemed to honestly care about this kid who had only been in their school for a week.

Today, my friend and I went to meet the assistant principal and check up on Jorge . Now, I've seen a lot of middle schools in this district, and when I entered this one, I felt like I had walked into the Twilight Zone. It was clean. It was bright. It had a mural, student work up and no graffiti. It felt lighter that any middle school I've ever been to. Jorge got pulled out of his class and... there are not words. I wish I had a before and after picture. He was wearing a uniform of khaki pants and a white shirt, he wasn't sagging, he had nothing hiding his face, he wasn't slouching, and he was GRINNING. He looked like a different kid. I mean, the kid was standing up straight for the first time in years!

Jorge told us about how he was getting help on his multiplication tables -- and he wasn't angry and didn't call himself stupid for not knowing them. When the assistant principal broached the subject of maybe repeating 8th grade because he had all Fs up till now, Jorge explained to us why it would be a good idea for him. He told us about a field trip that he's taking to various UC campuses. I'm writing so much because I can't adequately express the change. It was astounding.

Now, this is not a kid who trusts easily. That whole first week -- if he had an idea, even for a second, that a teacher didn't want him there or didn't respect him, he would have been right back to his old habits. I am blown away by how incredible the staff must be for him to react like this. I don't generally include the names of schools I'm talking about, but it seems this one should be in the papers.

I've asked many people to pray for this kid (by his real name) and I hope you will continue. I am so thankful for where he is at this moment.

Two years ago: The Difference a School Makes

Three years ago: More Craziness

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Highest Compliment

From my 10-year old student:

"My friend says that tutors are horrible but he obviously hasn't met you yet."

(It's because I let him write about poisonous flowers and barfing turtles.)

Three years ago: Solomon the Hero Dog

Four years ago: Post from Lindsay

Five years ago: Imminent Strike

Monday, April 11, 2011


When we go into teaching, we all know that we're not going to be working in shiny state-of-the art facilities.  We know that we're working with children and that things will get broken and dirty.  I was, however, under the impression that the custodians cleaned up and that basic supplies were provided.  Silly of me, I know.

The kids' bathrooms didn't have hot or even warm water.  They usually didn't have soap or paper towels.  Every year or so someone medical would come and do a big presentation for the kids about how to stay healthy by washing your hands in hot water with soap and drying them with paper towels.  The kids wouldn't listen, and it was hard to blame them - they had none of those supplies.  It's a little crazy-making to be told what to do and not be able to do it. 

These same people had mandatory trainings for the adults, to tell us how to avoid bloodborne pathogens.  Of course, it involved some of the same tips, but here was another good one: "Call the custodian and have him or her clean up the blood with gloves."  I sincerely hope that things have changed but if I had called 95% of the custodians I worked with, they would have asked why I wasn't cleaning up the blood myself. 

There was a dedicated adult bathroom, although a lot of teachers let kids use it, which wasn't nice for the rest of us.  It was not in the building I was in so I learned to run there and I learned to use the bathroom very quickly because teachers do not get much time to do things like that.  The bathroom was generally overlooked - dirty and lacking in supplies.  There was usually no soap, there were NEVER any paper towels, and there was often no toilet paper.

About five years ago, someone - I don't know who - decided to make the bathroom nice.  A little table was put in there, with a cloth over it and some silk flowers.  Some lotion was placed on the table and some hand soap on the sink.  It was nice and I think it raised morale.  The fact that someone could take the time out to do this when we are all so completely overwhelmed was encouraging.

Two weeks ago, I was back at the school for a volunteer project (photos coming soon).  I used the bathroom.  The same table is there.  The same cloth is on it and it has clearly not been washed or shaken out in the five years I've been gone.  The floor was filthy and so were the fake flowers.  I wondered again if the custodians are not aware of the bathroom, don't care, don't have time, or...?

These little things can make a big difference in a work environment.

Two years ago: The Benefits of Being White

Three years ago: Two Exciting Things

Four years ago: Robin Got Paid!

Saturday, April 09, 2011

They're Still My Kids

It never gets easier to hear about the students and their difficult lives.  When I first started teaching, I had never lived or worked in an area where kids had to sleep in the bathtub or the closet because the "gangs was shooting."  I never knew kids who had seen their cousin shot and killed or their dad stabbed to death.  There were a couple of kids who i forced to memorize my phone number and promise to call me if they were in situations that were physically dangerous.

I've been extremely fortunate to reconnect with some of my old students recently and some, like this kid, have been incredibly encouraging.  But others worry me, just like they did when they were in third grade.

One of them has dropped out of school at 15 and has gotten into drugs.  No surprise, really, seeing that his mom has had a drug problem for decades.  One of them messaged me on facebook and sounded incredibly depressed and discouraged "I don't think there's any way for you to help me but things are really really hard."  Another, out of high school, has a brother with a drug problem who is threatening to kill her.  Repeatedly.  He put a loaded gun to her head and she passed out from fear.  She called the police later and says they wouldn't come.

Many, many more of them have to deal with violence and poverty and hunger and drugs and racism and so so much that they shouldn't have to deal with.  I'm so angry at what these kids (some of whom are now adults) have to put up with.  I'm not even sure who to be angry at.  Their families?  It's not like their parents had it any better or knew how to become parents when they were teenagers.  Society?  Yeah, racism is alive and well, but I don't have many productive ideas on how to combat it. I get tired even thinking this far and just feel angry with this unfocused anger.

They deserve better.  And they're still my kids, and I'm still heartbroken about this.

 Four years ago: Social Skills

Friday, April 08, 2011

A Problem with Tardies

You know a student has an issue with being late when he tells you this:

But I only have 128 tardies!

(disbelieving look from me, so he tries to clarify)

That's for the whole year!

Oh dear...

Four years ago: No Caption Needed

Five years ago: I Heart My Students
                        History for Children

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Meeting Mr. Obama

A former student of mine, who talks here about how he "won't make a pout" in fourth grade when he has work to do, got to meet the president.  Like any 12-year old boy, he's a little unclear about how it happened "I got good grades so I got to meet the president," and which actual program it was.  What is not unclear is that he is an amazing kid who has grown and matured and is working very hard.  And he got to meet the president!  I'm so jealous.  Here he is:

Before I talk about my trip, I want to ask this question. The question is if you had one shot, or one opportunity, to seize everything you ever wanted, one moment, would you capture it or let it slip? (Eminem, "Lose Yourself")  Well, I took my opportunity.  It took a lot of hard work, but I got it done.  Now it's time to tell you about my trip to D.C.

It all started one day in class.  I was in advisory when this man came up to me named Mr. M.  He came and took me out of class to talk to me for 5 minutes on if I want to go to Washington D.C.  When he told me, I didn't know what to say.  I was scared that I would have stage fright, even though I'm not going to be on stage, to meet the president.  But instead, I realized that this will help me get into the school I want which is UC Berkeley, and have people proud of me so I said yes.

When my mom came home at 8:35, I told her the good news.  She was excited for me and told me that I can go and since I was one of the two from my school going.  She said I had to represent my school.  A week later, it's time for the big trip.  I bring my luggage to Mr. M's office and went to class.  Now at 12:50, I leave my 6th period class.  My mom comes to tell me, "Don't be over there acting ignorant," kissed me on the cheek and gave me ninety dollars.  Soon she left and I left with this one kid from my school and two others.  We all got to the plain and took off.  The plane sucked, but I was able to get all my work done.

When I got to my room, I had met up with some of my roommates from different schools.  They were cool and fun.  The weird thing was that they were different.  Even though my best friends are just like me, it was cool to hang out with others that were different.  When I got to my dorm, it was 3:00 in the morning.  I went straight to bed.  The next day, in the morning, I always went to this breakfast room that sucked.  They had weird things like broccoli and eggs mixed together, something you don't see people eat everyday.  After I just went around town and checked out D.C.

At night time we played in a place where I played one of my favorite sports which was air hockey.  The place was the rec room.  The next day I went to some museums and just bought gifts.  I saw the Empire State building* up close and this Indian culture museum.   On Friday, we practiced on how we are going to talk to first the person that works for the Senator of the US and I went on the White House Tour.  Oh yeah, we also everyday only ate beef burgers and fries to every meal we ate ate a restaurant (except breakfast).  We ate at a lot of restaurants, one of the names was Hard Rock!

On Saturday, it's now the big day.  I look as spiffy as I can.  So I'm in, I'm officially talking to Mr. Obama, the President of the United States.  When I was talking to him, I asked him many questions.  One of them was why do private schools get more money than public schools?  Are they better than us?  He laughed, but he couldn't answer for some reason.  What I noticed was he was no different from us today.  Except he's not ignorant and mean towards others.

After I was done we had went to this event called National Youth Summit.  At that event I saw some actors, some singers, and others.  The point of the summit was to involve students to the situation of us not being able to graduate and succeed in life.  After it was all said and done, it was time to eat my final beef burger and fries.  I knew I wasn't going to have a beef pattie until the upcoming thanksgiving or New Year's Eve.  It was going to be hard but I can get through that.  The hard thing was leaving my new friends.  Time for me to say the final goodbye to my roommates.  I said bye, hugged them (hand shake) and told them I was going to miss them.

So I went back home and they did too.  When I got picked up, my mom was excited to see the pictures and know about what happened on the trip.  Since I forgot to tell Mr. M thank you for taking me on this trip, I called him.  I told him, "I am very thankful for taking me on this trip."  He said, "It wasn't me that gave you this opportunity, it was you."  I still said thank you, he said you're welcome, and we hung up  this trip started to get to my head that I learned not just how to be confident in words, but also confident in what I can accomplish.


P.S. Yes I did have jet lag after the trip.

*I have no idea what building he's talking about.  he was in DC, not New York.

Four years ago: Updates

Five years ago: Class Pets!

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Teaching Money Management

Today, the 15-year old I work with asked me why I didn't have a nicer car.  My car is a 2000 Corolaa with a bad paint job.  It gets me where I'm going but it isn't pretty. 

Him: So, I don't mean to be rude or anything... I mean, your car is fine, and I'm just wondering... if you can afford a car, why don't you get a nicer one?

Me: Well, I could get a newer car, but I don't really want to make car payments when I own this one.  I don't want to have to pay every month for a new one.

Him: But you have a car so I know you can afford one.  Why don't you want a better one?

Me: This one works and I don't have the money to buy another car all at once, so I'd have to make payments.  That means for years, I'd be paying money each month for the car and if I don't have to, I'd rather not spend that money.  I still have some student loans I'm paying off so I don't want another payment.

Him: OH!  It would be like you were digging yourself in a hole and getting in more debt!

Me: Exactly. 

Him: So maybe after you paid off everything else, you can get a new car.

Me: Maybe.

Him: I'd get a BMW.

Four years ago: Counting Down

Five years ago: The End of an Era

Friday, April 01, 2011

Underage Prostitution

The community seems to have finally understood that there's a problem in Oakland.

I can remember - clearly - when I realized that there was a problem.  The principal of my school - who was a teacher there for a long time - got solicited by one of our former students on the corner.  Heartbreaking.

Three years ago: Testing Stories

Five years ago: Dark Angel