Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Global Group Work and Guavas

For ten years now I have been teaching in NYC. At first I was amazed at the diversity of the student body. I grew up in Levittown on Long Island. The town is a model of a post-war white suburb of NYC. There were no ESL students in my classes in the 80's. I went to public school k-8 and private school for HS. I honestly had no contact with anyone who was culturally different from myself.

While attending St. John's University I still tended to hang out with people who were similar to me. I was a member of the Irish Society on Campus and would socialize at Irish bars in Woodside and the Bronx in the evenings.

When I first walked into a NYC classroom I was amazed at what I had missed growing up. I was excited about the resources and wealth of experiences my diverse student body brought to my room. Simply listening to American History through the eyes of former citizens of various nations opened my world up. I definitely learned so much more from my first students than I was able to give them.

My level of original awe has dimished recently. I am still always looking for opportunities to allow cultural perspectives in the classrooms. However I have taken for granted though the diversity of NYC.

Today was a rebirth in me though. I realized today how lucky I am to be teaching in NYC. Today I sat in PD reading a memoir written by a Puerto Rican author, then discussed the excerpt with four other teachers as prompted to by the facilitators. One of the teachers as a child spent her summers in Puerto Rico knocking premature fruit from a tree , one grew up in the Philippines being disgusted at the smell of overripe guavas (she liked them to armpits) , another grew up in Ecuador who has not eaten a guava since she left her homeland, and the third was raised in El Salvador who claims US food looks nice but he can taste the chemicals in the fruit. The experience made me realize how special it is to teach in NYC. And there was me who quite frankly could not pick a guava out of a line up.

It was truly a memorable moment and something that I believe could only happen in the NYC Department of Education (or Phoenix) during a professional developement session. One of the teachers in the group referred to connectors in Malcolm Gladwell's “Tipping Point”. Education seems to be the connector here. We are going to accomplish great things here at QHST.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Brown....You're Irish???????????