Opinion
Education Opinion

The View from the Bronx, Through New Lenses!

By Ilana Garon — September 09, 2013 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Hi readers! Welcome to the blog. In case you’re just tuning in, my name is Ilana, and I’m a teacher at a public high school in the northeast Bronx--where I’ve been working in the same building for nearly a decade. Generally I teach English, though occasionally I’ve taught math and other subjects in emergency situations (such as once when the students threw a stapler at a math teacher’s head on the first day of class, and she quit on the spot--that was about six years ago.)

A little over-view of what I’m doing: I am our small school’s dedicated 10th grade English teacher. (Note that this does not mean I work with dedication, though I hope I do--it means that every student in the 10th grade has me as his or her English teacher.) My sophomore roster consists of four classes--one Honors-level, and three Collaborative Team Teaching (CTT) classes, wherein a Special Education teacher and I co-teach together every day. We alternate different methods of doing this, so as not to be talking at the same time--usually we take turns being the one to speak at the front of the room (doing guided notes, some lecturing, questioning the students, etc.), and the one to circumnavigate the room helping the kids when they’re doing group-work. The sophomore classes will be reading a bunch of novels, including Sherman Alexei’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, and a Shakespeare play (probably Othello). In addition to these, the Honors class is going to read Montana 1948, by Larry Watson, which I taught last year for the first time with great approval from the kids.

This year I also have the addition of an 11th & 12th grade combined AP English Literature and Composition class. I haven’t taught this course in a while, so it should be an interesting challenge. Historically, our school (like many inner-city schools) had not had great success with AP exams, though we still very much felt that taking AP courses was a worthwhile endeavor for our students, intellectually and academically. However, this past year, a bunch of kids earned passing scores on English Language and Composition, which is exciting and really raises the stakes. These students will be starting the year with Oedipus Rex, discussing Freudian Literary Criticism, and reading Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Peter Shaffer’s Equus, and Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, among other things.

(Note that I really like geeking out about what books the kids are reading; for an English teacher, this is the equivalent of making green and purple fire with elements in the chemistry lab.)

Also, while I am usually known by my curly pony-tail, Harry Potter glasses, and disciplinary tactics of questionable efficacy, this year one of these things is going to change: my glasses! I am sporting a new pair, which does not make me look like Harry Potter anymore. The students all agreed this was a major improvement.

For the most part, in writing this blog, I’ve been interested in talking about how the top-down policies of the Obama administration’s Race to the Top and (more locally) NYC Department of Education impact the running of our school and my class. In short, I talk about policy, and use classroom examples of its effects. That probably will not change. Some things I’ve been interested in of late include teacher recruitment and retention, teacher evaluation systems (and the fallacies in the current ones), student discipline, Common Core-related issues, and my favorite soap-box issue, the lack of alternatives to college prep. I also talk about things in the news that are interesting and relevant to the experience of teaching Bronx high school students (which I’ve also written about in my book, which came out last week--you should read it immediately if not sooner.)

I’m looking forward to sharing this year with you. All the best!

The opinions expressed in View From the Bronx: An Urban Teacher’s Perspective are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Data Webinar
Education Insights with Actionable Data to Create More Personalized Engagement
The world has changed during this time of pandemic learning, and there is a new challenge faced in education regarding how we effectively utilize the data now available to educators and leaders. In this session
Content provided by Microsoft
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Accelerate Learning with Project-Based Learning
Earlier this year, the George Lucas Educational Foundation released four new studies highlighting how project-based learning (PBL) helps accelerate student learning—across age groups, multiple disciplines, and different socio-economic statuses. With this year’s emphasis on unfinished
Content provided by SmartLab Learning
School & District Management Live Online Discussion Principal Overload: How to Manage Anxiety, Stress, and Tough Decisions
According to recent surveys, more than 40 percent of principals are considering leaving their jobs. With the pandemic, running a school building has become even more complicated, and principals' workloads continue to grow. If we

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education California Makes Ethnic Studies a High School Requirement
California is among the first in the nation to require students to take a course in ethnic studies to get a diploma starting in 2029-30.
4 min read
FILE - In this Jan. 22, 2020, file photo, Democratic Assembly members, from left, James Ramos, Chris Holden Jose Medina, and Rudy Salas, Jr., right, huddle during an Assembly session in Sacramento, Calif. Medina's bill to make ethnic studies a high school requirement was signed into law by California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday, Oct. 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
Education California Requires Free Menstrual Products in Public Schools
The move comes as women’s rights advocates push nationwide for affordable access to pads, tampons, and other items.
1 min read
Tammy Compton restocks tampons at Compton's Market, in Sacramento, Calif., on June 22, 2016. California public schools and colleges must stock their restrooms with free menstrual products under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, Friday, Oct. 8, 2021.
Tammy Compton restocks tampons at Compton's Market, in Sacramento, Calif., on June 22, 2016. California public schools and colleges must stock their restrooms with free menstrual products under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, Friday, Oct. 8, 2021.
Rich Pedroncelli/AP
Education Florida to Dock School District Salaries for Requiring Masks
Florida is set to dock salaries and withhold funding from local school districts that defied Gov. Ron DeSantis' ban on mask mandates.
2 min read
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, at the Doral Academy Preparatory School in Doral, Fla.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, at the Doral Academy Preparatory School in Doral, Fla.
Wilfredo Lee/AP
Education More Than 120,000 U.S. Kids Had Caregivers Die During Pandemic
The toll has been far greater among Black and Hispanic Americans, a new study suggests.
3 min read
FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021 file photo, a funeral director arranges flowers on a casket before a service in Tampa, Fla. According to a study published Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021, by the medical journal Pediatrics, the number of U.S. children orphaned during the COVID-19 pandemic may be larger than previously estimated, and the toll has been far greater among Black and Hispanic Americans. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)