I am a doctoral student whose work in schools left me puzzling over concerns about access in traditionally underserved communities. Why is it, I wondered, that students in the most challenging educational contexts often have the least access to information that can empower them? A former TFA corps member in Harlem, I held positions as a teacher coach, textbook writer, and education analyst in Upper Manhattan and the Bronx. My research interests include looking at how communities receive information about educational initiatives and how local media interprets No Child Left Behind. As a mentor, I work with new teachers in the areas of community-building, classroom management, and culturally responsive pedagogy.
When I was a kid, summer school was a four-letter word. Rumored to contain the toughest criminals or the hardcore slackers, public school in the summertime was the last stop on the loser train.
Fast- forward to my years as a teacher in Harlem. Adamantly refusing to teach during summer months, I had stopped in for some planning for the following year.
And boy, was I shocked!
Summer school was a serene, peaceful version of the regular school year.
In other words, it was like a different school.
President Obama’s national push for early care has propelled a resurgence of attention to preparing young children for school.
In recent work with families with young children in West Philadelphia, I’ve heard parents remark candidly about early care. Head Start, a national initiative that places 3-, 4-, and 5- year olds into centers for early childhood, is often a good option when seeking out-of- home care for young children.
When I started college years ago, most people didn’t quite understand the World Wide Web: we logged on at the library, inadvertently sending mail from other people’s Hotmail accounts. Without the benefit of Google, our web surfing was limited to bidding on Ebay and the occasional foray onto music video Web sites. The web was still novelty—interesting, but not altogether very useful.
In a recent visit to a school, I watched an eighth-grade math teacher move with his students through a lesson on quadratic equations. About halfway through, he called on a student to answer. That student then selected the next participant, and so on. It was a fun way to keep the class on their toes, because no kid knew if he would be called on next. After watching the entire class, I inquired about how the teacher had come up with the system.