Title I (or why I’m drinking beer with my dinner)
Title I (“Title One”), a provision of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act passed in 1965, is a program created by the United States Department of Education to distribute funding to schools and school districts with a high percentage of students from low-income families…To be an eligible Title I school, at least 40% of a school’s students must be from low-income families who qualify under the United States Census’s definition of low-income, according to the U.S. Department of Education. (courtesy of wikipedia)
I am a school counselor working in a “Title I” elementary school. I just started this job last month, and already I’m turning to alcohol to help me unwind. I await your intervention. In the meantime, let me share some of what I have learned in my brief time at this school:
- There is a difference between getting spanked, getting hit, and getting “whupped.” I do not know what this difference is.
- Mohawks are back in style. Also, the boys like to have swirly designs shaved into the sides of their heads. And the Hispanic boys like to frost the tips of their hair. The coolest boys have mohawks, swirls, and frosted tips. Who knew?
- School lunches are still full of carbs.
- The counselor before me had put the county social services’ number on speed-dial.
- Kids are way bigger now than they used to be – the fifth graders tower over me, and I am not joking when I tell you that many of them have boobs or mustaches (strangely, the short ones have the mustaches).
- While it seems like a smart idea to retain kids in first or second grade because they are not reading or writing well, the cost of this is having 12 year-old 5th graders, full of hormones, disrupt the learning of average 10 year-olds. It is a real problem.
- I don’t like 5th grade.
- I thought it would be hard to teach classroom guidance because I am sort of shy and not at all comfortable speaking in front of groups. It isn’t hard. What is hard is keeping the kids under control for my 30-minute lesson. I have a new-found respect for teachers.
- Kindergarten classrooms smell like pee.
- During a lesson about “courage,” I asked the kids (4th grade) if any of them lived in bad neighborhoods so I could point out how they showed courage by coming to school even if they were scared to leave their homes. This led to an intense discussion in which every child wanted to share stories of things that scared them in their neighborhoods. When I tried to move on (seriously, every kid had his/her hand up), the kids swarmed me like bees trying to get me to listen to them.
- If I could clone myself, it would be great.
- In one class, I asked the kids to write down on a note card one thing that they were afraid of, another activity related to courage. Immediately the coolest boy in the class waltzed up to the front of the room and handed me his card, on which he wrote “nothing.” Total bad-ass. FYI – swirls in his hair.
- In the same class, a quiet girl handed me her card and held it up for me to read before placing it in the bucket – it read “I am skared of my my father.” I read it, looked at her, she looked at me and nodded, I nodded back. Got it.
- Homelessness decimates a child’s education. Kids come and go throughout the school year, leaving behind trails of intervention paperwork, friendships, and broken relationships.
- Homeless kids do not look like what we imagine: poor little kids huddling with their parents on street corners. No, homeless kids might live in motels, domestic violence shelters, or be scattered among various relatives. Imagine trying to focus on homework when you don’t know where you will be sleeping tonight, or if you will stay with your mom or end up on your aunt’s couch.
- There are teachers who live and breathe for Title I. Then there are teachers who want to get the hell out of it. Burn-out is very real.
- I haven’t made up my mind yet. But I totally have the best job in the school. shhhhhh…
I am participating in project52, in which I post a photo each week based on a prompt. This week’s prompt was “drink up.” check out all the great entries here.