My First Year, Chapter 2: Back to School Night

backtoschool2.jpgFor those of you following the story of rookie teacher Andy Kwok as he makes his way through the school year at EXCEL High School (McClymonds),  there is a new installment in today’s Trib, as well as a two-minute video posted online.

Also: His blog, My First Year, has been expanded to include six beginning teachers from across the school district. The teachers hail from Westlake Middle School, West Oakland Middle School, Esperanza Academy, Alternative Learning Community, EnCompass Academy and East Oakland PRIDE.

You should check out their beautifully written and unflinchingly honest first postings. And, of course, you are welcome to share your stories, support and advice. I’m hoping My First Year will become a constructive forum for educators to exchange ideas and bits of wisdom. Even for non-educators, like myself, it’s a compelling read. 

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • sharon

    I have strong advice for individuals entering the teaching profession. Get a copy of “Impro: Improvisation and the Theater” by Keith Johnstone. He is the father of improvisational theater and a genius when it comes to analyzing minute components of human interaction.

    You only need to read the book’s chapter called “Status” and you will learn how body language and tone of voice can subtly raise, or lower, one’s status in the eyes of students, and it most certainly does. This phenomenon is related to Baker’s comments to Andy Kwok on 9/14/07.

    How status is transacted in your classroom will determine if you are going to sink, or swim, and how quickly. Individuals in a classroom must acknowledge everyone’s proper level of status before teaching of content can begin. This is especially true if you are teaching middle or high school.

    I have had children in OUSD schools for 15 years and together they have experienced at least 73 teachers. What they have observed about their teachers (of course everyone talks behind the teachers’ backs) confirms everything about the dynamics of “status transactions” that Johnstone describes.

    Some people display a higher status more naturally than others. However, it is possible to learn how to project a heightened level of status. An excellent book where you can learn about the different rules of status in urban “street culture” is “Code of the Street” by Elijah Anderson.

    The education of teachers should include a substantial amount of training in these concepts long before they are sent to a classroom. Sadly, I don’t think it does. If you are a new teacher, please don’t gloss by this message because I know it will help you. Spread the word.