In 2007, after twenty years of working as a television writer, I decided on an impulse to become an English teacher. It was the end of the writer’s strike, and I was making proclamations that I was going to drop everything and do something meaningful. I’d seen the inspirational movies about idealistic new teachers who marched into a school and shook things up with their no-bullshit awesomeness. I would never have admitted it to myself, but on some level, I imagined standing on top of a desk reading poetry out loud while my students wept quietly, inspired.
Within a month, I had a job at an excellent charter high school in South Los Angeles with a student body that was 97% Latino and 3% African-American. 96% of the students were eligible for free or reduced lunch, meaning that most of them lived below poverty level. I would get my teaching credential in an intern program where, instead of student-teaching, I would go straight to my own full-time teaching job, taking the required credential classes at night school. And so, on a sizzling September day five years ago, with no training in education, I stood for the first time in front of a classroom full of teenagers and realized too late that I had no idea what I was doing. Continue reading About This Blog