The New Zealand mosque shooting had particular resonance for my students. My school is for newcomer immigrant English Language Learners and many of our students are Muslim. The day after the shooting, a girl who is not Muslim came in with a poster she had made on her own stating “We stand with our Muslim neighbors.” It was the first of several events last week that showed me a new level of leadership among my students.
Our school is housed in a building with five other public high schools. Students from one of the others schools decided to organize a student walkout on Friday in response to the New Zealand shooting to protest hate crimes, gun violence, and show support for the victims. It would be peaceful, no longer than 40 minutes, and take place on the athletic field. Students from our campus had participated in last year’s walkout around the Parkland school shooting, and it had been safe and organized. All seemed fine.
On Tuesday, my assistant principal called me: “Julie, did you know that our students were planning on walking out tomorrow– Wednesday, not Friday? Apparently there’s a big thing on social media. Continue reading
I find my students touching, and often cute. However, in thinking of them as “cute,” I don’t always see their wisdom.
Three 12th grade students approached me a few weeks ago. I call them my “movers and shakers.” They are active in student government and always looking to plan new activities.
“We want to have a ‘Glow in the Dark’ party,” said Stephanie.*
“Yeah! Kids are getting stressed out studying for Regents exams and this will be fun,” added Hassan.**
I did what I often do with kids: I told them I would think about it and get back to them. Continue reading
At the High School of Language and Innovation, part of our teacher hiring process is having the candidate deliver a 15-minute demonstration lesson (a “demo”) in front of one of our classes. A candidate can nail an interview but the demo is often the most telling part of the process because we see what the person would be like in front of real students.
I wrote in an earlier blog about the comparatively low number of Latino boys in my school who are graduating on time. When I expressed this concern to my leadership consultants Ariel and Shya Kane, they suggested that in every demo lesson, we include a significant number of Latino boys and take special note of how the teacher engages those boys. This suggestion has been invaluable– rather than looking narrowly for a certain “type” of candidate, we’ve shifted to simply seeing who our students become in front of that candidate.
Since summer school classes are smaller, we have sometimes needed to add boys from other classes.