*Rita's dedication to teaching for 40 years is inspiring. Having come from parents who were both educators she knew from the very beginning just how dedicated she needed to be to make a difference.
* Her plug for human connection is very true. She quoted Carver as saying, " All learning is understanding relationships."
* Our jobs are," Tough but not impossible." Is also true. However, keeping a pack of crackers in your desk for students who are not fed properly at home as well as a wash cloth and soap for those who need it is a tricky subject. Sometimes, parents are offended and are not on your side even though you have the kids' best interests at heart.
I brought in my daughter's trendy Aeropostle winter coat for a student of mine who refused to wear a jacket outside in the dead of winter. She kept begging to stay inside. She finally came out and told me that her mother bought her coat at Wal Mart and she wasn't ever going to wear it. She loved the coat! She was so happy on the day I gave it to her. However, her mother was offended and called our school's guidance office and said that if I wasn't going to give all of the kids then don't give her kid one. No surprise that this same parent didn't help with any homework at home. The human connection that I made with her daughter as I did sneak her other items during the year, was strong. Her scores did soar.
* Another strong point Rita makes is of building self-esteem and academic achievement at the same time. I would love to make a powerful literature connection to Sahara Special written by Esme Codell. This novel, written by a teacher, touches the hearts of her students most who come from unstable home lives. These students were placed together and not in the other 5th grade classes. They felt safe in Miss Pointy's class room. Sahara, the main character mentions how relieved she is that no one mentions the fact she repeated the 5th grade with another student who is in the room. The class was very small in size - another concept we know to be true in helping kids who need it most.
* I have had experience with a wonderful opportunity my son had. His school system put in place an intense 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade class combined. Twelve students were in the class with a teacher and two educational technicians. All PT,OT, and speech was brought to the kids instead of children being pulled out left and right. The first thing day my son came home from school and said, "It's the perfect palce for me. My teacher knows how I learn." If I hadn't experienced this myself, i would not believe the story. My son gained 2 years growth in math, 3 in reading, and became a strong speller. WE had the opportunity to have him exit the program by 5th grade and chose not to because of how much more we thought he could learn. He dropped speech the following year.
In middle school he made honor roll all three years and was in all regular classes. Now of course we are the type of parents who helped him at home every night for hours all year, so I know this factors in. He has a 94 average as a senior in high school. This program is not longer funded.
* So I agree about human connection -but money and funding for the right programs go hand in hand.