Learning As Leadership

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Sep 21 2011

Thanks for the Advice

If one more person tells me that the solution to classroom management problems is to have my kids write a rap or let them analyze Tupac lyrics, I’m going to scream.

If I had a dollar for every time a well-meaning friend told me that, I’d be a BILLIONAIRE.

1. I am a Teach For America teacher and have dreamed about teaching inner-city kids since “Dangerous Minds” came out. Of course I am capable of coming up with engaging and “cool” lessons where kids get to rap.
2. Speaking of which, I’ve seen “Dangerous Minds”.
3. P.S. Believe it or not, not all kids like to rap.
4. Believe it or not, teachers have to teach things other than just rap.
5. Believe it or not, kids don’t suddenly become silent and perfectly behaved just because you told them to rap.
6. The novelty of “Ohhhhh, our teacher is letting us rap for an assignment” wears off with kids in about 2nd grade.

ANYWAY– thanks for the ideas, encouragement, and advice people. BUT yeah, just stick with, “If you can make a difference to just one kid, then it was worth it,” and “Why don’t you see if LeBron James will come be a guest speaker in your classroom?”

7 Responses

  1. Fiona

    Have you ever tried a paperslide video? I am a student teacher in a middle school language arts classroom and we had them answer questions about themselves and use their creativity with drawings to make a paperslide video. The school wrote a grant and had received iPads, but you can use a video camera, instead. Here is a video of a paperslide with zombies. It is the example we used in the class, but you can always look up youtube and paperslide and find other results.

  2. Fiona

    I forgot to add that you can use this to have the students summarize a chapter or book report, etc. This may be more interesting to your students than the rap. You know your students better than other people, just find their interests and use it with your class.

  3. Gary Rubinstein

    Is it just educational outsiders who have given you this advice to have the kids rap, or were you encouraged to do that by TFA?

  4. @Gary– Mostly outsiders. I’m not saying it is bad advice, it’s just cliche and oversimplified advice. People give me this advice as if it is the most novel idea ever. Obviously having an engaging class that is relevant to students is important, and that is the message that TFA sends.

  5. aea107

    I thought this post was going to be about the racial implications of your well-meaning friends assuming that your low-income students could only connect to rules if they were conveyed to them through hip hop music. Maybe the next time someone suggests Tupac to you, you could ask them if they’d suggest that if you were teaching in a high income community. That’s just me, though.

  6. Delta Alum

    You fishing for stuff on TFA Gary?

  7. @aea107– To be honest, I don’t think most of my friends are suggesting it for racial reasons. I think they WOULD suggest the same thing if I taught in a high income community. But I do think there are racial implications here, which I’m sure we can all infer. I think it’s the whole “Dangerous Minds” cliche that I mentioned. But I don’t think my friends or racist or ignorant for suggesting I teach through rap.

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