"Education is not a product: mark, diploma, job, money; It is a process, a never-ending one." -bel kaufman

Monday, June 28, 2004


the personal essay

exam day.
i'm procrastinating on getting my grading done. keep getting distracted. one of my students' essay is about the day he started bombing (doing graffiti) in chicago. and i think about when i first began teaching here, he never used to write. since then, i let him graf on my board with my multi-colored dry erase markers, and he's head of the graffiti section for the school magazine. i think he's slowly finding his voice, discovering that he can write about what interests him and that he's good at it.

i'm proud of my first period. the remedial class shows up all other classes! tight business.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004


Letter of Intent

To Whom It May Concern:

I intend to continue as an English instructor at Antonia Pantoja High School for the following reasons:

I hope to create a comfortable educational environment for the students, in addition to offering the knowledge and skills needed to enter into higher education, the workforce, and adult life our society. Alternative education by nature is not standard schooling, so I do not intend to "school" our students. My primary goal is to achieve a comfortable classroom environment, one where students can be free from the pressures, distractions, and intimidation of the world they face on the streets.

I hope to improve my skills as a teacher. This is my second goal as a member of this school. There is not a single school day that passes when I do not learn something from our students. The best way to learn how to teach is to teach. After teaching at Antonia Pantoja High School for six months, I know my weaknesses and I know how I need to improve.

I have built and fostered a strong relationship with my students. I see them as pupils and I see them as individual characters. At this time, I cannot envision myself teaching at any other school with any other students. I am proud of my students’ accomplishments and I have aspirations for each of them to succeed in their personal and professional lives. My third goal is to help my students gain confidence in themselves.

Finally, I hope to see Anotnia Pantoja High School become one of the best schools in Chicago. This was not one of my intentions when I began as a teacher. I had never heard of the school and part of me did not know what challenges I would be facing; however, because I have found myself in the middle of a huge school transformation, I will do my part to improve the structure and quality of Antonia Pantoja. I hold no regrets and I wake every weekday morning for my newfound love of teaching.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004



so to start of on a good note, here's some history on chicago's logan square artists back in the day:

a few of my classes are doing oral history projects on chicago during the 50's, 60's, and 70's. to give them an example, i'm showing them the book Yes Yes Y'all: an Oral History of Hip-Hop's First Decade.

unfortunately, most of my seventh period class hasn't taken the project seriously so i am dropping the assignment and we're going to do simpler book work, worksheets, and essay practice. i don't mean to be doing it as punishment. they don't seem to understand how the freedom to work on a long-term project doesn't mean fool around during class and avoid doing the homework. more than 50% of the class has yet to choose a topic and has shown some sort of animosity towards doing an independent project. futhermore, i feel my patience thinning. i think i need to approach this class with a new perspective.

something i wrote immediately after seventh period:
so today was difficult and writing helps me calm myself. i wish i could be more inspirational, but i know that i cannot please everyone. and i know that i will learn from the difficult ones, the students that fight off work and resist the challenge of school. i have to step back and examine my approach, re-think the way they learn.

i do have much to be happy about, to rejoice in my successes and continue pushing the students who i have engaged.

i met a student's mother on thursday--Jasmine's mom. after talking with her for a minute, i told her that despite the D that Jasmine has in my class (mostly because of absences), she is one of the students of whom i am most proud. Jasmine is creative, sharp, and fun to have in class. her mother responded by informing me her daughter said i was one of her favorite teachers and that Jasmine has had very few teachers that she has liked in school.

so while i am frustrated and exhausted today, i cannot forget that i am making a difference in some of these student's lives.


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