Share Your Stories

Are you an educator with a success story? Please feel free to email me – I’d love to hear what you have to say.

2 thoughts on “Share Your Stories

  1. I am a NYS licensed reading specialist. I earned that title at SUNY Albany in 1999. For the last nine years I have been working with mentally challenged adolescents at a NYS children’s psychiatric hospital. Most have them come to us broken, the need of belonging, not fulfilled.
    There are eight teachers, each reponsible for teaching a different subject. There is no one with whom to collaborate. Our professional development is given by consultants, who were not faring well in a public school, but they are safe enough to be in the community and go to homes, many dysfunctional, but at least they are not in a locked facility. Many of our kids have been robbed of their youth by the trauma they bring with them. They act out by self-injury, drug use and aggression to whomever irritates them. Too many have lived most of their lives in hospitals, foster care and residential treatment centers.
    Many are not ready to learn. They don’t trust authority fifures because they’ve been mal-treated, put aside, and not heard, so they opt out of attending school.
    I want to talk with teachers who can give me exceptional ideas on how to get every kid addicted to reading and writing and wanting to grow intellectually, wanting to know what they don’t know, believing that gaining academic skills along with therapy and medication can give them a bright future.
    I’ve facilitated poetry clubs and drama clubs at the hospital. I will summarize the results with one example. One of the most dangerous kids I’ve ever met was angry because I had cancelled the club because I couldn’t get another staff to supervise. He passed the hallway for well over an hour refusing to talk to anyone and finally broke down, “Don’t you get it Ms. Lieberman, poetry club is the only thing I look forward to here, the only reason I get out of bed.” The kids always bonded and loved sharing and talking about each other’s pieces, They woud not tolerate rudeness. They also loved listening to and reading poems by published authors and learning about how to create rhythm and voice. The present group of kids chose the club are totally disengaged, have inappropriate boundaries, and I have to keep myself from looking at the clock.
    Anyway, I am very down because it is so hard to reach too many of these kids. There is a forgotten population to the experts. I’m sometimes flounder and find it so hard to work with a classroom of about 6 kids, all with different diagnoses, with an age difference as much as five years, who either are, if they live with a parent, in different grades in school and with reading levels ranging at least two or more years- but also, lest I forget, more importantly, their different strengths and weaknesses in reading and writing.
    Some kids love my classes because I make them think, and lots hare my classes because of my enthusiasm. Some walk out; some won’t even come in. Others want to stay for an extra period.
    Anyway, I know this is lengthy, but after reading the first chapter of your book, I wish I had a mentor like you, so the majority of the kids would succeed as did your students.
    =Bonnie Lieberman

  2. A couple of thoughts from a teacher who retired from an inner city comprehensive high school. Bravo to you for understanding that a safe school environment is necessary for learning to happen. I worked with a principal who maintained a safe environment because of his singular dictatorial methods. Unfortunately, the school returned to chaos after he left.
    My inner city experience made me realize that I had bigger lessons to teach apart from my subject area which was Math. Your method speaks to that issue as well. Collaboration and consistancy are the keys to success.
    It hit home when I read that you were written up for too many suspensions. As a Union Rep, I needed to cajole teachers into doing Incident Reports when they were assaulted. Why? Because administrators did their best to make them believe that it wasn’t in the teachers’ best interest because they must have done something to make the student strike out. There was no follow up for the teacher or the student, both of whom could have used some preventative help. Administrators simply deal with statistics and too many incident reports or suspensions make them look bad at the downtown offices. Superintendents should have a regular rotation into the classroom because they just don’t get it.
    Your book also takes some of the isolation out of teaching in a difficult situation. Even though I worked in a different state, the students in your book ring true to my experiences to a scary degree.
    Great Job, Mr. G.
    Joan Wright

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