I finished reading this moving post by a dedicated teacher this afternoon, and it has spurred me to reflect and react. Please read the post before continuing as it is the context for the rest of my comments. http://tinyurl.com/ydpmfbx
In the next few months, I begin my journey in earnest at a school that has a poverty rate well above the school with 30% free and reduced lunch that the other blogger described in his school, but I am very optimistic that all can and will learn.
I recognize the barriers that the Mr. Ferriter describes, but I am proud of my school district for realizing the need to keep class sizes down, provide door-opening technology to all students, and focus on bringing background knowledge and new vocabulary to all in a healthy dose on a daily basis.
Nothing about teaching in a school with high poverty is easy, and it is true that the realities of life are in our face each and every day as our families try to satisfy their basic needs or have an incident that makes bankruptcy a reality. These schools do require individuals that find their work a "calling" and not a "career". A calling requires sacrifice, incredible work ethic, and a sense that the smallest steps forward for our most difficult students are the first steps on the road to success. I applaud the blogger for realizing that this working wasn't his calling, but I know that I must see this work as a calling and support my staff in this mission.
One of the most important tasks that we have in front of us to start the new school year will be to answer the question, "What will it mean to have a successful year?" I hope much of this conversation will drift into realms that lie beyond data and test scores, and we remain dedicated to the whole child and the calling that we wake up for each morning.