Chaos In The Classroom

Passed on from one of Huckleberry Ed's good friends who is a classroom teacher

Passed on from one of Huckleberry Ed’s good friends who is a classroom teacher

By Huckleberry Ed
(Clarksdale, Mississippi) 

In Huckleberry Ed’s estimation, one of the most severe problems and hurdles to overcome in properly educating a child today in the Mississippi Delta and all over America has to do with utter chaos in the classroom and the home. Too many students live in houses void of silence, order, and they are filled 24/7 with confusion and chaos.

Huckleberry Ed was a licensed educator for the better part of ten years, but spent many years prior to entering the pedagogical field involved in training in the corporate world. He taught in alternative schools, Special Education, Middle School, High School, Elementary School, Community Colleges, a juvenile detention center, and has tutored children from 1st grade to college age!

He is several classes and a dissertation short of a doctorate in Higher Education and has several degrees in sundry areas. He mentions those not to toot his limited horn, but to establish for the reader that he has at least rubbed shoulders with educators, administrators, students and their parents/guardians.

Huckleberry Ed was a poor student as a child. He likely was “eaten up” with ADHD, minus the hyperactivity designation, had trouble staying on task and daydreamed constantly, but he did listen in class and was respectful to his teachers. In other words, he was not disruptive, nor were his fellow students in the classroom, whether it was public or private school.

Two years and about a month of teaching in the Delta broke Huckleberry Ed down, and he decided to pursue other endeavors not so draining and demoralizing. Why demoralization he says? Well…

Educators have incredible tools today that we can use to educate a child. We are aware of the different learning styles children have and we are adept at structuring our pedagogy to reflect those styles. We know how to differentiate instruction for children based on their learning styles, strengths and needs. We are given hours of “professional development” to enhance and augment our ability to teach every child in our classrooms. But….

It is not enough if a classroom is filled to capacity with students possessing poor reading skills, undiagnosed or unrecognized disabilities, distracting items such as bracelets running up and down the arm, and children possessing little or no critical thinking skills.

Our homes today are filled with every electronic device imaginable: TV’s in every room, stereos, cell phones against every ear; we are inundated with over-stimulating products and lifestyles.

Students have a hard time switching gears from an over-stimulating home life to the classroom where a sense of order and an environment where listening and paying attention are vital for success.

There is often little reflection time available as many kids ride buses today. Ask a bus driver what the long ride to school is like with kids vying for attention. Students leave home wound up, wind up even more on the bus ride to school, and hit the schoolhouse door “loaded for bear.”

And, the teacher is supposed to manage all of this while teaching differently to each child based on his or her needs.

Too many pundits, politicians, education administrators (some–not all–who obviously forgot what it was like in the classroom or who have become accustomed to a salary often twice the size of those they supervise–Huckleberry has not a problem with this–management should be paid more, but not if the administrators do not administrate effectively and support their teachers with compassion and empathy) and armchair theorists seem to want to blame the classroom teacher for poor performance on high-stakes standardized test.

There are weak teachers in every school system and district, but by and large most teachers are fairly well-trained, give a damn about their students and their success, work many more hours than what the school day warrants and they work daily with children several levels below their grade level in reading and math. Not an easy “row to hoe!”

Children come to school tired from the confusion found in their homes, thereby making it difficult for them to concentrate and to stay awake. Discipline is often lax because teachers are castigated and evaluated poorly if they send a child to the office repeatedly or occasionally, as it is seen as a sign that they cannot manage their classrooms.

Too many parents do not back up the teacher’s attempts at discipline, but take their child’s side even if their child is obviously wrong, all the while knowing their child does the same thing at home. All of this is bullshit!

The very future of the Delta and America hinges on what occurs in that classroom. Huckleberry Ed will be writing very soon about the achievement gaps between American students and their counterparts the world over.

If administrators and parents will allow the teacher to administer meaningful consequences, then the child’s behavior will improve and the consequences for poor behavior will serve as a deterrent for other children. Then, and only then, will the environment be conditioned for learning to begin.

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Comments

  1. Charles Bertram says:

    I would add that until something is changed in the homelife of these individuals, nothing will change. I too have fought the good fight. I have become frustrated and jaded. Please remember, when comparing U.S. students to other countries, many of them do not educate “everyone.” Should we end compulary education in America? Is it successful?

  2. Love the image “I will not takle in class”!

  3. Alex Lundy says:

    I can remember my late Uncle’s lament at luncheon one afternoon around the time the Clarksdale city schools were integrated back in ’72 and old Mr. Kincaid defiantly donated the land that Lee Academy now stands upon that previous summer – something about – “…That beautiful old building being laid siege to…given away to be destroyed…” (meaning the Clarksdale High School building). Of course, myself being too young to understand then now know the cavernous clang of culture shock that must have resonated in its empty hallways that summer as it anticipated one student population fleeing and one invading. Sad to note his truth that rather than being awed into respect by the elegance of their new-found educational surroundings and cultural opportunities it was taken more as a rightful due. Now even this understanding is lost. The Delta schools are miserable employers. What else can its product be?
    –A.

  4. Huckleberry Ed- You are dead on time with your evaluation of the Drew public school nightmare. I graduated from this establishment when it was one of the highest rated school systems in the state. The only thing left to do is fire up the D9 Cats and turn it into a vacant lot.

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