I am often comforted by the fact that God not only looks on the outside of a person but most of all concentrates on our inner selves.
“The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7b
Good to know, right?
And I wonder if we, as teachers, should follow His example more closely as we look at and evaluate our students. Who knows what each child is carrying around on his or her shoulders? (illness; family death; divorce of parents; peer pressure; abuse; hunger, etc.) How can you tell if each student is performing at his/her potential or is operating with handicaps that are not visible to the rest of us?
How quickly do we judge students’ abilities and motivation at the same time we ourselves are being defensive when others are critical of our teaching? We demand more evidence and second opinions when administrators, parents and students label our work as inferior; however, do we give our students the same benefit-of-the-doubt approach? Something to think about…
About 25 years ago as I worked on my Med at HBU, I was assigned a “big book” project by our then literacy professor, Dr. Ruth Ann Williamson. At the time, I was teaching senior English at Westbury Christian School, and as all senior English teachers know, criticism of the content material can be excessive at times, especially if it’s not written in modern English. The Canterbury Tales is an excellent example of wonderfully entertaining literature that is difficult to understand and often grumbled about by the students required to read and evaluate it. And so I devised an assignment to add some interest in this historical piece of fiction. Each of us, including me, the teacher, would write an original “tale” to add to Chaucer’s collection. As you may or may not remember, each tale had to have a lesson or moral, and I knew just the moral I wanted my tale to include. The text is below, and there is an Animoto video linked here: The Teacher’s Tale.
The Teacher’s Tale
By Dr. Eloise Hughes
Loosely based on The Canterbury Tales By Geoffrey Chaucer
The journey proceeded the day was gone.
The way to Canterbury was weary and long.
The group made camp at a convenient place.
The were tired after a trip of grueling pace.
The host decided a story was needed;
The tale of the teacher was now to be heeded.
She sat by the fire, the pilgrims around,
Patiently waiting for her to expound.
The teacher, a large old lady with spunk
Pulled out a book from her bag full of junk.
“This volume,” said she, “is full of adventure.”
The pilgrims scoffed, wanting her story to censure.
“Once upon a time, a long time ago,
I showed this same book to some students I know.
They, too, were skeptical. In fact, they moaned,
‘Not another story from old England!’ they groaned.
“But when I opened the book and began to read
from an author who closely followed Bede,
They were introduced to a variety of pleasures.
Who knew that books could be filled with great treasures?
“Merchants, knights, nuns, farmers and wives…
The characters made the plot exciting with their lives.
Riddles were solved, and love was extolled;
Villains were thwarted, and heroes were bold.
“The stories contained teachings and morals
Learned from mistakes and even from quarrels.
The students were aghast! They’d really had fun
When the reading was finished, and all the work done.
“The pupils had come to a surprising insight—
That sometimes, MAYBE, the teacher was right!
So, you see dear pilgrims, if all of our stories were put
Into a volume that was someday old, all covered with soot,
“And students asked to study it thought it bland
Were surprised to learn that pilgrimages in old Engelande
Were made up of a variety of people, all classes…
Religious, scholarly and poor, both lads and lasses
Sharing their lives, dreams, souls, and rhymes,
The future folk could better understand our times.
“A book must be opened, its chapters to share
With adventures and thrills beyond compare!
And so dear pilgrims, you, too, can discover
“A book should never
be judged by its cover”
And here are photos of the book I created; remember in 1990, the only way to cut and paste required scissors and glue! The prints included are actual replicas of those published in the first editions of The Canterbury Tales.
Just like I wanted my students to give The Canterbury Tales a chance, I need to remember to give the same consideration to students, parents and all the others with whom I work before I make unfounded quick judgments!
by Dr. Dina Flores-Mejorado
I had the pleasure of attending a webinar on a federal law entitled the “McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Improvements Act.” This law was enacted in 1987 in response to the growing number of homeless families in the United States. Homeless families now number 3.5 million and 1.5 million of those are children. I felt it was important that everyone should be aware of this law in order to help as many students as possible.
This law is part of “No Child Left Behind” which was reauthorized in 2002. Prior to the enactment of this law, some 50% of homeless students were unable to attend public schools due to the various requirements for enrollment like birth certificates, immunization records, proof of residency, utility bills, and so on. Most districts have policies that detail how to follow the McKinney-Vento laws; however, many districts do not follow that policy. Teachers and principals may unknowingly be violating federal and state laws by turning students away. When administrators and teachers do not follow this law, students are excluded from enrolling in school and they lose an average of 4-6 months of academic progress for each move. HOW DOES THIS LAW HELP STUDENTS? Homeless students receive immediate enrollment without records. It provides school stability so that homeless students can attend the same school for a whole year. If the students do not have transportation, the “SCHOOL OF ORIGIN” is a provision within the McKinney-Vento law that provides transportation. In addition, they also receive support such as child nutrition, school supplies, and Title I services.
All personnel must be taught to “see” homeless students because their families in transition are not going to come and inform everyone they are homeless. The new middle class homeless includes many teachers, realtors, lawyers, engineers, retail workers, and more. These families do not know how to access workforce services, food (SNAP/WIC) cards, public transportation, or Medicaid. 40-70% of all homeless people are children, and they are in our schools. In Texas, two-thirds of districts reported 83,224 homeless students which were identified by schools reported to TEA in 2010-11. The Urban Institute estimates that about 10% of all children in poverty will experience homelessness in the next year. In 2011, 1,751,180 Texas children lived below poverty level – 10% would be 175,118.
Federal law and Texas law now mandate identification and coding of McKinney-Vento students in the Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS). Many districts use a “Student Residency Questionnaire” (SRQ) to determine the student’s housing status and any students who may be eligible for McKinney-Vento are then referred to the homeless liaison for further conversation. By federal law, it is the responsibility of the homeless liaison to determine eligibility for homeless services and records students’ identifications in the PEIMS records. A homeless liaison should be knowledgeable about all the laws and local rules that are relevant to homeless and highly mobile families. For instance, they should know all the local shelter policies and procedures along with being able to train others to help identify and serve homeless students.
Many people ask the question, “What constitutes homeless?” The Federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act says that children and youth who lack a fixed, adequate, and regular nighttime residence are homeless. For example, children living in shelters awaiting placement in foster care; families or youth living in campgrounds or parks, living in cars, or abandoned buildings; families or youth living in airports, bus stations, or train stations; and families living in doubled-up situations. All district personnel need to understand the barriers homeless students face; For example, lack of continuity in education; transportation and attendance problems; poor health/nutrition; poor hygiene; social and behavioral concerns; reactions/statements by parent, guardian, or child; and lack of privacy/personal space after school. All district personnel need to advocate for homeless students’ academic success through modifications; arrival times; curriculum; uses of technology; field trips; extracurricular activities; and having food over the weekend.
ALL school/district personnel need know the district’s homeless liaison and the “signs” of homelessness. Remember, NEVER use the word “homeless”; always say a student is “McKinney-Vento eligible.” If possible, add information in your weekly/monthly newsletters on how to access workforce services or food cards in your schools area. Display McKinney-Vento posters in both English and Spanish in the lobby of the school. Keep in mind that HOMELESS does NOT = HELPLESS or HOPELESS.
If your school would like to request posters or need additional guidance/information, please visit “TEXAS HOMELESS EDUCATION OFFICE”.
Their staff includes:
They can be reached at:
Charles A. Dana Center
The University of Texas at Austin
1616 Guadalupe Street, Suite 3.206
Austin, TX 78701
Call toll-free in Texas: 1-800-446-3142
Send faxes to: 512-471-6193
Listed below are several references and additional resources:
Gray, S. (2009, March 10). Report says 1 in 50 kids is homeless. Time, http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1883966,00.html
James, B.W. & Dill, V.S. (2012, November 14). McKinney-Vento Webinar.
National Association of the Education of Homeless Children and Youth www.naehcy.org
National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE) www.serve.org/nche
National Law Center for Homelessness and Poverty www.nlchp.org
United States Department of Education; McKinney-Vento Program www.ed.gov/OFFICES/CEP
National Coalition for the Homeless www.nationalhomeless.org
Bullying Prevention Manual by Donna Clark Love (281) 467-4861
Traffick Stop, Tomi Grover, Ph.D. (214) 418-8318