I lost my passion for teaching because of the teacher I worked with, Lorela Graham, passive-aggressively pushed me out. Lorela began by criticizing my clothes and hair, rather than help me build better lesson plans or practice performing the lessons before teaching them; she preferred me do her paperwork and grading. I was given the upcoming week’s outline on Sundays, leaving 6 hours to personalize lessons for an entire week. She “hazed” (her word) by having me out of the room following students to gather data on their behavior in an effort to remove them. Lorela’s life problems (such as her son’s college suspension related to drugs) were taken out on me, erupting and swearing at me after school hours.
Lorela and I had different educational philosophies. She did not believe in connecting student lives to curriculum, that students did not have agency and shouldn’t engage in dialogue with the teacher. She preferred comma placement over critical engagement, and avoided student imagination. Lorela was about results, through lessons that were easily duplicated yearly, which is little more than playing school. The unresponsive teaching reinforced the status quo, and for a homogeneous student population that is a dangerous proposition because college becomes an uncontrollable culture-shock upon discovering not everyone has the same background, opportunities, and financial resources.
My conflicting philosophy was that connecting ELA to student lives creates global citizens capable of compassionately understanding human values, creative experiences, and skills in conflict resolution. ELA analysis of language can be used to question the socially constructed self, giving students the ability to deconstruct attitudes towards culture/ethnic groups, and transform into democratic agents prepared for civic choices towards societal change. Stories have the unique ability to present students with influences inspiring students to re-imagine the world from another cultural perspective and appreciate culture-originated solutions, to find unique solutions based on multiple perspectives.