What does it mean to work in a system that fails you and your kids?: A beginning teacher's journey through the Chicago Public Schools

January 13, 2014 1:24:24
Kaltura Video

This ethnodramatic performance tells the story of a beginning teacher's first year in the Chicago Public Schools and her efforts to make a difference in a third grade classroom. January, 2014.


>> Hi, I'm Robin Jacob [phonetic]. I am an assistant research professor at the Institute for Social Research in the Survey Research Center and the School of Education, and I'm very pleased to be here to introduce this performance. It's part of the 28th Annual Martin Luther King Day celebrations. And it's the first of a two-part series on educational disparities in the U.S. The next event will be held next Monday, in the same place, at the same time. So I hope to see many of you at that second event as well. This event holds a particularly special place in my heart. I have spent the last 10 years of my career studying the problems of urban education reform and the problems of urban schools. And in particular, this -- the excerpts from this interview were conducted in 2004 which was shortly after I conducted my dissertation research in the Chicago public schools. So I know a lot about the Chicago public schools during this period of time and I'm really looking forward to seeing the performance. So I wanted to quickly introduce to you Dr. Charlie Vanover [phonetic] who is the writer and director of this performance. Charlie is an Assistant Professor at the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg. He - in addition to this particular performance that we're going to see today - he's also written and produced two other plays. One called "Chalkboard Concerto" about his experience as a beginning teacher in the Chicago public schools, and one called "The Teacher and the Power of the Word" which was recently published in the "International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education." The main performer today will be Jennifer Jean Smith [phonetic] who is -- works with me in the Education Well Being Program at the Survey Research Center. She's the Research Process Manager there, but in addition to all the work she does to keep my grants managed and going well, she's also a singer, a song-writer and general performance artist. So I'm really excited to see this aspect of Jennifer besides her prowess with the quantitative stuff. And then also we have Jessica Compton [phonetic] who is a second year MPP student here at the Ford School, who is going to be participating and conducting the interview part of the performance. Jessica used to work at the Urban Institute, and when she was there she told me she conducted over a hundred different interviews in 23 cities and 18 different states. So this is something that she has a lot of experience doing. This performance and the activities that are going to take place on the 20th are sponsored by the Institute for Social Research in the Survey Research Center, by the Ford Schools Center for - sorry - Diverse Societies and Public Policy, and I also wanted to make a special thank you to Brian Jacob and the Education Policy Initiative here at the Ford School since Brian and the Education Policy Initiative helped to organize the event. So I'm going to turn it over to Charlie now, and thank you all so much for coming. >> Dr. Charles Vanover: Okay, thank you. And thank you for having me. [ Applause ] So I just wanted to say before I give the dedication and then we move on, that what we're going to do today is I'm going to talk about the data a little bit and sort of how I conducted the interviews and what I learned from doing them, oh just a tiny bit. And then I'll ask you to comment on them and to ask questions. Because what we're doing is actually not a play, although it is a play, but an ethnodrama. And the difference is that an ethnodrama's based on research. So plays are created from other plays. They refer to a life in theater. This ethnodrama mostly refers to other research and it's really a privilege to be able to do it here with Robin and Brian because they did a lot of the research that really does connect up to the play. And so the idea is that we'll be asking you to ask questions about the excerpts, about the performance you see, in order to -- again, the idea is to help you ask better questions and how to think about again, the title issues of the series which are the educational disparities which really do influence the life of our nation and really do shape teachers' work, children's work, family's work. And so here what you're going to see is the voice -- not only the voice from the classroom but at least a tiny bit I hope during the performance, you'll get sort of the feeling of the classroom and the feeling of somebody working within a system where those disparities are real and actual. And it will give you a sense of the tangle of life that people face and people experience, that then creates the you know -- then is measured by quantitative research, then is measured, analyzed through interviews. But it will give you a sense of just the personal experience that they people like Robin, people like Brian study. And so again, if you want to learn more just about the Chicago schools and at the time Robin's research, Brian's research, on the Chicago Consortium for School Research website, it's really a great place to start. Melissa Roderick's research on the Chicago Consortium and actually one other good study on that website is Allensworth's study on "The Schools Teachers Leave." And so again, that we talk about again some very important issues for our nation and that connect up to the issues in the series. But again, I won't be giving you -- what I won't be giving you is any answers, any claims. We'll just be asking questions. Okay, so before we start, I want to do -- take the time to do this which is to dedicate this performance to my friend David Johnson who started with me at the -- in the Educational Leadership and he was actually in the Educational Policy Program in the University of Michigan, and who we connected with I think in the first 10 seconds that we met each other in our first pro-seminar. And Dave was just a wonderful friend and a great colleague. And so of the many reasons that I mention him, one of them is that you know, there's a lot of -- being an academic, there's good and there's bad things. But maybe one of the best things about being an academic and work doing this research and this life is a chance to create like a friendship where you're both friends in your personal lives, you're connected in your professional lives, but that I was always interested in Dave's opinion. I was always interested in learning from what David said. And so in this one -- in this piece, there will be a lot of moments for interaction. And so those moments for interaction are to encourage you to reach out, encourage you to talk, and just to remember you know, what a blessing it is to be able to have people to talk about. And again, for me to give thanks to you know, have the opportunity to meet someone like David Johnson, to be friends with him for as long as I was friends with him, and he died actually -- like the last time I saw Dave before he got sick was in the play that I built up for my dissertation. And then he died a couple of weeks after my second semester as an assistant principal. And here's the thing. Even though he is gone for now, almost 3 or 4 years, I actually miss Dave more now and I'll grieve for him, but I would give anything to call him up. I would just -- it would just be great. And so all these inner -- moments for interaction, they're there for you to develop your connections, to build bonds, and that is in the research about ethnodrama. That is one of the big effects, that it helps create a community and helps create connection. Okay, so I will start now. So I went out to the school. I went -- I was a very junior researcher in the Studies in Structural Improvement. I mattered as much to the study probably as my little pinky finger. And actually the fingernail too. So I was a very, very minor player in a very, big and important study. And I left that summer in the summer to study in the Summer 204, and I went into the field, back to the system where I had worked as a teacher for 8 years to study how teachers made a difference. You know? And I wanted to capture the good news and help people see the honesty and the courage of sort of the ordinary people who worked in that system. And I wanted to help people learn to see the teachers in that system the way that you know, that I did. And so I created this interview instrument and it's based on both Patricia Benner's [phonetic] work and then someone that's well-known in Michigan, if not as I've discovered in other places as much as we would like him to be, which is Weiss's book, "Learning from Strangers." So if people are interested in qualitative research or doing interviews and even if you're doing family histories or things like that, it's a wonderful place to start. And Weiss's idea is that the interview is a collaboration. It's sort of a connection between two people. And what you'll see as we perform this interview is that collaboration, is that connection. And then again, you'll see the interviewer sort of helping the person that I've interviewed which was a first year teacher in the Chicago public schools, tell her story. And so that's sort of how the play will begin. And so if you look at the next page, Excerpt 1, a story about Arthur, in order to emphasize that collaborative part, I actually had the teacher who was Halsted Horn [phonetic], she had never taught in CPS before that time. And I had her come into the interview with a story already written. So she came in with the story already written, the excerpt about Arthur, and then as you'll see what happens, you know, mostly I sat and I listened. And I would help her out by mumbling in agreement or things like that which is part of Weiss's techniques. But mostly I just let her tell the story. And you should understand that it wasn't sort of any day that I interviewed her. I interviewed her maybe two days after the end of school. And so as a result, she -- this is her first year in the public schools. It's her first year as a teacher. And her stories just sort of flew out of her body. Right? It was like, it's just rushing right out of her. And so she talked about this student Arthur, for 20 minutes. And there is no teacher that I interviewed for that study who spoke more about a student or for whom that student was -- what's teaching all about? Connecting with him, learning about him, that was what it was all about. And so to make a long story very short, after a long journey what I did is eventually I created this play. And the way that I created this play is -- there's different ways to create plays. There's different ways to do it. In no way is what I did the only way. But what I did is I wanted to do something very simple and do something that I could stage most anywhere so that I could be free to really you know, go and let people connect to this work. So what I did is I just took -- I did four interviews with the teacher Halstead Hoin [phonetic] and literally what I did is I just erased. So I just take out of about -- this is almost 6 to 7 hours of tape, I erased down to about what you'll see is 30 minutes of play script, which is probably even shorter than you know, even with maybe 20 minutes of tape. And so that's my only contribution in a sense. So there's a -- it's -- here are the teachers' exact words spoken in the exact order that they were spoken, and then because she repeats herself and goes on, certain incidents come up again and again, and you get sort of a deeper and sort of stronger insight into what she felt were key parts to her year, and that were examples where she made a difference, obstacles she had, or really again, because I mostly sat and let her talk, things that she needed to say. Things that she needed to describe. And so -- and then it's a tough story. So I wanted to say that again, an ethnodrama, it's a tough story and people are unsure of the people that are in all this work, whether you should [inaudible] as this one. And so you should know that from get-go that what happened to Halstead was just -- is sort of something that I want to -- a term that people use in education policy that I'll refer to a couple of times, is that Halstead had a modal teaching, beginning teacher's experience. And what that means is, is that she experienced things that are common, but we wish could change. Things like happen that happen all the time, but we wish did not. But she was - and I want you to understand this - she was not a modal teacher. And by that I mean that she wasn't an ordinary teacher, so she had real difficulties. But what's so powerful about her interview, was that she responded with grace, with courage, and that she -- she learned to speak and to think about her life in a way that -- which showed real connection. So honestly, an ordinary teacher maybe like myself in the Chicago public schools. I was not the greatest teacher. They would not be able -- what they would do if they were in this situation is they would complain. They would tell stories about the kids that were angry, a lot of anger, and a lot of disappointment would come out. When you see Halstead's story, she's always reaching out. And so that's one of the reasons that I wanted you to -- I thought it was reason to tell. She's always connecting to people like that. And so you'll see that part of it. And so what happened to Halstead and what I learned about her interview is that the aspects that we would like to change and that are unfortunately all too common, started when she first was a student teacher in 203-202. She got her student teaching. And what happened again and it's amazing when I tell people this, that it was even a problem then, she had a really -- when she was assigned her student teaching, her student teacher did not allow her to teach any tests and subjects, because he was afraid that she would lower her test scores. And so he's assigned to be her mentor. He's assigned to be her guide. And instead, she has to watch him teaching these really critical subjects because he doesn't feel comfortable. And so she comes into the classroom much less prepared than she did. She taught a little writing, but she was not really given the opportunity to really you know, earn her stripes or be [inaudible]. And then -- so then she comes in and if you look at Excerpt 4 -- actually not. Let's do Excerpt 2. I'm sorry. "The Timer." Excerpt 2, "The Timer." What happened again, and this is again, and it's hard to say because this is part of [inaudible] teacher, this is part -- the things that go on that you're not proud of. What happened to Halstead was that she was assigned the most difficult class. Essentially what the people in her school did, is they -- and again, this happens. They dumped, at least from what you can tell from the interview and that's all I got. So understand, all I got is her story. So this is a story that I tell about her story. She was dumped into a classroom with 16 boys, 5 girls. Of these students, many of them were known characters in the school. From a narrative it changes a little bit but I think that about half the students had flunked the previous year. So these were very, very vulnerable students. These were students that in a just world would get the best teacher in the world. And instead, the people in her school, they assigned her. And so -- and I think with the idea being that she wouldn't make it. That she didn't have the resilience to survive this, and so why give her a good classroom when she's not going to make it? And then what happens is that Halstead makes it through the year, and not only that, she's at a big school. And again, if you want to learn about these schools, there's a lot of research. But the Allensworth article is a good place to go. And there were 10 -- a group of 10 beginning teachers that started at the school. By October, half of those -- so in a month, half of those teachers had left. And then by -- what happened was again, to use a CPS term, and again, this is from her narrative, something got in the water that year and about a big chunk of the staff left as well. And so that by January, Halstead is the leader of her third grade. She is now -- and she -- what she is doing is she's trying to hold down the fort while the new, new teachers come in. And note that these aren't the new, new teachers that were hired in July. These are the new, new teachers that are hired in January. So they're not likely as strong as the people they replaced. And she's trying to keep everything going. And so her world, because her class was so difficult, what she did is everything she did was problem solving. She literally came in and her day was figuring out what's happening, what's going on, I've got to do this, I've got to do that, this is what I have to do next. And her whole life was, "This is how I have to do next." And then one other thing that I think really - in my opinion - contributed to her resilience, was that Halstead was a Buddhist. And her Buddhism actually called her out of her. She used to work as an actor in Chicago. Her mom was a teacher. She told me that she never wanted to be a teacher. That's what she told everyone. And then she was subbing in a little school. There's a Buddhist temple within walking distance. She started walking to the Buddhist temple to meditate, and her Buddhist practice moved her out of this life in the theater as a working actor, into CPS. And so then Halstead told me, and I believe her, she woke up every day at 5 in the morning, and she meditated and then she got to school usually before 7. And then she kept herself calm till her kids walked in and you should understand that her first week in her school, because she had been given this classroom, she had 20 fights. And so again, if you've -- imagine your first job -- day on the job, and you have 20 fights and you have to manage this and you have to figure it out. And in many ways, you're alone there, trying to figure it out. And so it's out of that effort that she creates the year. And then I want to go on, and again what's so hard about this, and why it's a good -- it's a piece that really gets to you into the heart of you know, the educational disparities, its shape, our system, and the tangle of life that again, creates the things that other forms of research measure. If you look at Excerpt 4, this is -- we're actually going to perform this. So it says in the program that we're not, but we're going to put this in. And so on the one hand, when you see Jennifer perform this excerpt as a teacher, you'll see that Halstead connected with the students. That those students -- really good evidence that they believed in her. Because kids are only going to come through for you if you come through for them. They will never come through for you if you don't. And so, in this way, the kids come through for her. That she was -- she went to an in-service, she left her classroom. When her administration -- they didn't have a sub. They divided all the students up. They forgot to lock the door. And so what happened was the school was so out of control, again like half the staff had left, that students were sort of wandering the halls. And so I just want to say that in elementary school, little kids wandering the halls, that's the end. Right? That's like you know, there's nothing. That's just the end. Little kids in the halls, you're done. And that year is over. And so they trashed her room. And not only did they trash her room, she was to keep her behavior down, she said she did five or six incentive prizes and different types of things like that to get the kids you know, from one day to the next, from one week to the next, from month to the next. And so they stole all of her incentive prizes. So all the prizes that she had collected for the good kids, the bad kids snuck in her room and they stole. And then what happened was that the kids saw this and they told the administration that this happened. And so the administration called her parents, and the kids themselves stay home and they took care of it. They cleaned it up. They reached out and the parents told her, that the kids didn't want her to be embarrassed. That the kids really cared about her and -- reached out. And then here's the hardest part of all of this. And the really hard part of the story is that -- and again, it's really, it's a hard issue. The next -- that parent-teacher conference was a parent-teacher conference at the end of the year, where she has to tell the parents of the students that those students had flunked their school year. And what she told me and she did not tell me this till the end of her interview, that her last interview, her fourth interview at the very end, and we actually have that scene so you'll see it, that of the students in her classroom, 4 passed the CPS [inaudible] exam. And 16 failed. And so the way the system worked at that time would be that all of them were taken into summer school, and then it's the idea that some of them are going to pass and some of them are going to flunk again, and they're going to have to do third grade again. And then the issue is that some of them had already been there once. And so they would literally take third grade three times. And so some of the parts of the play talk about that policy which was again, if you know and again you can look it up on the webpage, that Chicago did what they described as they "ended social promotion." And they decided that if they kid didn't meet a certain tested level, they were going to flunk that kid. And in some schools, in the more extreme cases, they just kept flunking the kids. It's almost sort of an [inaudible] thing where we're just going to flunk these kids till they wake up. And then that doesn't always work for little kids. And so then one of the great, at least the way I tell it, one of the good education policy stories is that the research that [inaudible] talks about, that changed things somewhat. That, that policy relaxed to somewhat. And so what Halstead talks about right at the end of the interview, is that she doesn't have to put all of those kids back in the third grade. That at least the kids that had done third grade once or twice or three times, they didn't have to do it again. And so again, it's one of those difficult shifts where you have to think about well, what does it mean to work in that system? What does it mean to grow up as a teacher working within this type of bureaucracy where that again, I don't think it's a controversial thing to say, some people would say it, but I don't think so, that it's really not ethical to just use a test score alone to flunk a kid. It's really not an ethical policy, but it was done. And then what does it mean, and again this is -- so if you can see the gong. One of the things that I'll do towards the end is sort of gently ring the gong to remind you that you're here to ask questions. Again, the biggest claim would be that I'm sort of opposed to social retention and you can look up the research and decide yourself. But to ask questions. And so as I sort of ring that, just try to think about, "Well what does this mean? What does it say? What do you want to think about? How does that work?" And so, also because again -- again, as a religious person, and again I hope that doesn't offend anyone, I do believe that Halstead was called to the system. I do believe that by doing her Buddhist practice, that was a good route for her and you should know, she is still in the system. She is 10 years into the system and if you -- you know, she is one of the teachers whose classroom you can sponsor and she does all that social networking. That's not her exact name of course. But she's still there. And so try to think about you know, those questions, "What does it mean?" And things like that. So that said, what I'm going to do right now, is I would like you for two minutes, to look through the excerpts and I've been asking everyone to read these excerpts for a while. And then think about -- pick an excerpt and think about a question that you have on it. And find a partner in which you could talk about that. So find a partner that you can talk and again, we want sort of groups of three and four. We don't want groups of -- bigger than that. But find someone, pick an excerpt and then just think about some questions and then we'll ask people -- after we go through like a little of a protocol, we'll have Robin and she'll like write your questions down before we start. So you're really, again like I said, interacting with the data, thinking about what this means, and again, like I said, to me the best part of my life as an academic is those times when we're with the data and trying to really ask good questions. So you've got two minutes and see if you can sort of think about what questions do you have, either about the show or the theme of the series, "Educational Disparities." So it doesn't have to be necessarily about the show. So two minutes. [ Inaudible background conversations ] We're going to start. So does someone have a question? So questions? Questions from the audience? Questions from the audience? Come on. Yes? >> Okay, so my question's a little all encompassing. So I really appreciated your presentation and to all of the data and everything that's going to be presented, but I was a little bit confused as to how all the different stories kind of connected and what the foundation of these were? So we're talking about disparities. Are we talking about socio-economic status, race and equality? >> Dr. Charles Vanover: We're talking about again, so this is the voice of the classroom, right? And the idea is, "How is all of these different disparities transform into an individual's experience? What does it feel like to work in a system where these disparities are not ideas in our minds? They are real structures on the ground that shape what happens in your classroom, in your life." So could you -- yes. >> What we're asking over here, we were kind of wondering what the route of the anger came from? Was it anger towards the education system, that they were being mistreated? Is it anger that was coming from their homes and bring it up into the classroom? So we were just curious and wondering what was the root cause of this anger? >> Dr. Charles Vanover: That's a great question and I don't have the answer to that question. It's something that people have written about enormously. And so yes, if we could just have that question on. More questions? Yes? >> We were wondering a couple things after -- well looking at I think mainly Excerpt 3, but just how much actual teaching occurred and how much was just crowd control in this class? And then she talks about breaking down and crying. How do you recover from an incident like that and get credibility and sort of authority back in a classroom? >> Dr. Charles Vanover: Yes, so how do you recover from not being prepared to do a job? Again, that's really difficult, right? So you know, the classroom she received, if there is any justice in the world, a really great teacher would be assigned to work for these kids. Instead it's again, the disparity is that it's sort of an ordinary first year teacher that is doing her best. So what does that mean? And again, I think that that's really a good question. Yes? >> We had a couple questions. One is, "Where did she come up with - mentioned Buddhism - but the emotional reservoir to recover from that first week?" You know, 20 fights in one week is extraordinary. And then the second is, "What structures or support system did the school have in place formally or didn't they have in place or what is more typical for a first year support for a new teacher?" >> Dr. Charles Vanover: Well that I can talk to a little bit because I can refer to the interview. And so in the interview, again if you just look at the excerpt, what does she do? She calls her friend. Right? So after her first day, where she's had all these fights, what does she do? She calls her friend and her friend tells her what to do, and she follows what her friend said. Right? So, and that's always what goes on with Halstead. She's always reaching out. She's always connecting. And so I've done this play for rooms full of beginning teachers, and what I say at the end is, "That's the fundamental lesson is find people that can help you. Find people that you can talk about those issues." And then in the school, if you look at Excerpt 2, what happened was that the principal then, after that first week and she made it through the week, sort of becomes on her side. And so I don't have this as much in the play because these are things that were like related to two or three rounds and then finally were cut. But there is some -- she gets a mentor. The assistant principal that you hear about a lot, that assistant principal reaches out to her. So they take the one boy that was always fighting with Arthur out. Arthur actually is for good, for bad, and this is a common experience, staffed in the special education. So she gets a little bit of help, but a lot of it is just her own you know, emotional capacity while again, a lot of people around her are leaving. And so at least that's the one little answer. The bigger answer, I don't know. Maybe one or two more? Yes? >> My question was more about the system. And so we were looking at Excerpt 5. And I was wondering with the homeless girl and having to repeat her because she missed so many days of school, because she's living in a homeless shelter, I see like there's a very big disconnect between Social Services and the school system in kind of like how -- like what is that disconnect there? Like what can be done there? What's the role of the teacher in kind of bringing these two services together to make promising students, like the girl here, actually be able to succeed? >> Dr. Charles Vanover: Yes, and remember that she's already flunked once. And what Halstead said is that she was one of the ones that flunked again. And so she's -- that's her second -- this is her third time you know being retained. She's in the shelter. She's all I know about the student actually is this little excerpt. That's all I really know. That's the only time she's spoke about her I think because again, from a -- what they don't tell you about being a teacher that's so hard is that you create these relationships with kids and then they go. And so, the teachers that I work with that try to help think this through and analyze it, one of the things that really happens is that that experience again is a common modal experience. You have this kid. You're sort of working with them. Are you doing everything the kid needs? Well maybe not, but you're making some progress, and then they go. And there's no closure. They're gone. And that's again, is a really hard part of the system. It's again, it's contributing to again the original question about, "What are these disparities? What's happening there?" Again, what we don't have is not a theory of such things. We just have the personal experience of working inside of them. One more and then we're going to start. >> So, my -- I have sort of a two-part question which is, within a lot of these urban schools, do they -- you've talked about how there are the -- there's the allocation of trouble classes to early -- to inexperienced teachers and that kind of thing. Do they do a lot of experimental -- do different schools try experimental setups are allocation schemes or that kind of thing? And if so, has your study taken data from a lot of these different -- any sorts of different structures and compared the two? >> Dr. Charles Vanover: Oh I mean there's again, there's a lot of research on these things. But again, all I have is her story. And all I know is that there's some schools that are more equitable and some schools that are less. And it just -- in a sense it's up to the leadership influences thing. It just depends. A lot of times it may vary. It might be actually kind of equitable and no one's really even thinking about it. In this case, again, it is a bit of a CPS tradition sometimes and people in my focus group talked about it, to give the first person sometimes a very difficult class. Anything else? Okay, we're going to start. And again, to sort of -- because we're talking about Halstead and we're thinking about her practice, and I wanted to recognize the spiritual part of her practice, I wanted to start with an opening prayer that is from her Buddhist prayer. So if you look on Page 2, you'll actually see what is called "An Opening Prayer." You are welcome to repeat that with me, or just read it, or you know, think about -- pray to some other god, or whatever you wish to do. Pray to you know, whatever. But I wanted to sort of start again to recognize Halstead's calling by starting with this prayer. [bell] "So the passions of delusion are inexhaustible, I vow to extinguish them. The number of beings is endless, I vow to save them. The truth cannot be told, I vow to tell it. The way cannot be followed, I vow to follow it. Through generous actions may I obtain enlightenment to benefit all sentient beings." [bell] >> Okay, [inaudible] corner up. This is the Chicago Teachers Union Quest Center, and I am interviewing Halstead Hoin. This is her first interview. It's June 24th, 2004 and we're going to start. Are you ready? >> Okay, so do you want to hear a story that I wrote about a particular student because I had to keep a journal and I share it and they'll be some stuff here? Arthur is a special child. Arthur is a very small, wonderful boy who was born addicted to crack. He was adopted by a wonderful man who then got very sick and died while Arthur was in my room. The first week of school, I broke 10 to 20 fights involving Arthur with another little boy. And in fact, they were the two smallest boys in the class. I then figured out that these two were mortal enemies and should never be in the same room together. The other boy was moved to another room and I left with Arthur. Arthur had personally prided himself on the demise of two fully certified teachers and a whole slew of subs the previous year. At times I saw this kid get so out of control, it would take 2 to 3 or 4 adults to restrain him and remove him from the classroom. Everybody agreed this kid needed special services in a self-contained room. He had never been referred and this was a third grade classroom. The case manager of my school told me, I cannot refer him for special education, because she was already too overwhelmed. This changed the day Arthur told the assistant principal he would have her shot for removing him from my room. Getting angry at this kid did not work. He could get a whole lot angrier back. I was stuck. I had to figure something out because he was here until March, and I had 20 other kids that had to work harmoniously with Arthur, and he with them. >> Okay so -- okay actually could you just expand on that story? Could you tell me a little bit more about him? >> Sure. I have this here. This was the day he told the assistant principal that he was going to have him shot. He just came in really angry and he told me that he was not going to do what I told him to do. >> Right. >> And so, the assistant principal, and she was brand new to the school too, she just sort of chased him around because he was like this little kid. So she just picked him up. And you know, in the beginning I would call his grandmother and in the beginning of the year, and she would just tell how terrible he was. She had raised six kids of her own and she had never had one like this. And it wasn't until later at the staff meeting that I learned about his being born addicted to crack. And then I really didn't completely understand it until then that it was this woman that Arthur's father lived with that -- he was the son and he was this great guy who adopted Arthur and just took him in and loved him. And when I went to that man, Arthur's father's funeral, it was just so obvious that this man was a pillar of the community and there had to be like 2 or 300 people there. The church was packed and everyone just had wonderful things to say about him. >> Do you know how he died? >> He was on kidney dialysis for a year or two. I don't know what came of that but it just wore him down. I don't even think even Arthur was living with him the whole time he was in my classroom. He was just too sick. Truthfully, I'd never really got Arthur to do much academic work. It was more about a personal relationship with him. >> Okay. >> I just felt really good that I didn't bail on him you know, because there were definitely days when I was like, "I am not going back. I am not going back." But you know, having a computer in the room, that was really a big turning point because Arthur, he really, really -- he's really bright on the computer. And that's when I started realizing how bright his kid really was and you know -- he could find things. I would give him internet assignments and he would look things up. And then that day that his dad died, you know, that really stands out for me. He came in and Arthur was pretty normal and he -- I mean not normal. >> That's weird. >> That's a bad term. But he was really calm. And he sounded very sad today. And I said, "What's wrong?" And he told me his dad had died. And I just gave him a big hug and the kids -- so four periods a week they go to another teacher for computer or music or whatever. And Arthur, he didn't want to go. He didn't want to go to the outside classroom. And I said that that was fine. He could stay with me. You know, I said it was fine. Just anything to keep him calm because you know, I've lost a parent. It's an upsetting thing. Well the reading specialist comes in and she's just like, to him, "You can't be here. You have to go to your other class." And she started sort of getting really direct with Arthur and telling him, "No, you're going to the other class. You can't stay here." And you know, I pulled her aside and I said, "His dad just died," you know? And "I don't mind him being here." And she's all like, "You're very nice but that's ridiculous. He has to go to this other class." And that just whipped him into a frenzy. And you know, she's like, "You're going to this class." And he says, "I'm not going to the class." "You're going to the class." "I'm not going to the class." And honestly, I didn't know what to do because she was my superior in that school and I'm not supposed to keep them out of their extracurricular activities. And then he's in tears at this point. And so she drags him down to the classroom and that ate up 15 minutes of my prep right there. >> Of course. >> And you know, and it was fine. I was sitting at my desk doing my work and he was sitting there and it just whipped him into a frenzy and -- and by the time she got him down there, it was time to bring him back. I went to the funeral on that Saturday. I was the only Caucasian in the church and people were sort of looking at me. And I felt the need to explain myself but I learned a lot about this man that had adopted Arthur by going to the service. I learned a lot about the family. >> What do you feel you learned about in that experience with him? >> I just learned that Arthur was with a really kind family because my experience with his grandmother had been, you know, I'm calling her up to say, "He bit me. If he bites me again, I'm going to file a police report." I watched Arthur through the whole service. It was a long service: like almost 2 hours. And he sat still for 2 hours. And I have never seen him do that. So you know, when something's important to him or -- I don't know what it was but you could tell like the people he was sitting with, the other members of the family, they treated him a certain way. And he even had a different name too. They called him Paul and we called him Arthur at school. And I never quite figured that out. So many people got up to speak about this man and eulogize him, I just can't even tell you. His father was definitely a community volunteer. I think he had adopted two kids and had three of his own. You know, I'm just sort of watching Arthur sit there and listen about his father. It was just amazing to sit there and see him sit still for two hours because I had never seen that. And you know, honestly after that experience, he was so thrilled that I had come and I was really thrilled that I had gone. And his grandmother, she said, it meant a lot to her too. >> What about him in the classroom? What was that? >> My classroom, the other kids by the third week, I mean they knew him. They had been in school with him since I think like since the second grade and he had sort of been the prime reason they lost two of their teachers. So, you know at first the kids are all like, "Arthur's doing this. He's doing this. He's doing this." And you know, and I would try to do the stuff you learn in the manuals. You know, pull two kids aside and be like, "Well what happened? What happened?" And eventually I just realized that these kids needed to sort of accept the fact that he was the way he was and that they needed to deal with him differently as well. I had kids that sort of never figured that out and a lot of them were pretty relieved the day he got moved out. A lot of kids were kind of relieved. Oh and there was this one little girl -- he was looking for someone to take care of him. And some days he would sit -- I mean because see I only had 5 girls and 16 boys. So someday he would just sort of sit with himself and all the girls and they would take care of him. And they'd fix his paper for him and they'd sharpen his pencil. And they just sort of nurtured him. And that's what he wanted. He was just really looking for some contact. Some physical contact. Some nurturing from the girls. And they really liked taking care of him, until he did something as he got angry or pushed them or went over the line, then they were done. But I remember that little girl, she just loved sitting by him and he would defend her and he'd open doors for her and he'd give her his computer time. It was just really sweet. And you know, I know he's in a much better place being in a smaller classroom with more one on one interaction, you know, with the special ed teachers because he really just needs attention. He just does. >> So I guess right now, I'd like to take a step back a little bit. Could you describe some moments about the year -- over the year where you really learned something? Where you learned something about teaching, especially about your students. Just any big takeaways you could share. >> Well, a huge thing that I learned was just staying in the moment because you know, that was the most important thing. I had to stay really mindful of the moment because if I -- like if I started worrying about 20 minutes from now, things could get out of control really fast. And I also learned that I am not above poor behavior. I was guilty of like telling kids to shut up. I was guilty of locking kids out of my classroom. And I mean, that's absolutely something I never thought I would be capable of. And I did it. So I was really grateful to have this journal, you know, to reflect on because sometimes I had to just be like, "Okay, okay. You're the adult in the situation." And that was something I just didn't even think I was going have to worry about. >> Right. >> But it turned out to be one of the most important things I had to worry about. And a lot of people, like they tried to be helpful you know? But their idea of being helpful was bringing me a book on discipline and which you know, yes that's helpful, but I'd just been through 18 months of coursework and I've read and I've done projects and I've volunteered in classrooms. And I've spent a lot of time and you know, but I need to know what works in this school because all these great discipline programs, they're wonderful but if they don't have support beyond a classroom, that the school is just chaotic and out of control, no matter what I do, I mean that's going to trickle down. >> The chaos, that feeling out of control, do you have specific examples you could share? > Absolutely. I have a million examples. My room was located next to this upper grade DD room. And my floor was all third grade classrooms except that one room. And they didn't even have a teacher. They had a series of subs. They had a teacher's aide that was pretty constant, but even that changed. And so like, it was just constant disorder and disarray. They'd be out in the hallway. They would cuss at me. They'd cuss at my kids. They'd threaten my kids. And they were -- you know and we were actually told to teach with our doors locked and -- which to me kind of defeated the purpose of community. It was like, well -- and even if you did have your doors locked, you still had kids banging on your door. They had to hire 10 new teachers this year and by the fourth week of school, 5 of them were gone. And by the end the school, there were 4 of us left. Two of us are coming back next year. And all this year we would just look at each other like, "Are you kidding me?" You know, like that was our thing. We'd look at each other and be like, "Really?" Like, "You can't be serious. You want X, Y, and Z to happen while all of this is going on?" I want to read something from my first week. >> Okay. >> I did not expect this much anger to slap me in my face. I must have broken up 10 to 20 fights. I cried every night for 2 to 3 hours. I forgot everything I'd learned at school. Thank goodness one of my cohort members from my master's cohort walked me through my week. This school is an emotional place. By Friday this week, I had broken down in front of my class. And this was the first time I questioned whether I could do this. I feel like I have been dropped into a war zone. I did not know places this sad existed and now I spend the majority of my time here. And it's quite an adjustment. >> Thank you. So I guess stepping away a little bit again, I'm curious about some of the positives that have come out of this. Is there a particular event that you have that you could share with me about -- something that's really been positive about teaching and all of this experience? >> I think going to my friend Arthur's father's funeral, really embodies to me what teaching's all about. You know, I was just like, "I'm going to care about you. I'm going to do the best I can for you. You are important to me." And then you know, like my husband, he came to my classroom once to meet my kids, and he asked them what they liked about this year, and one of the little girls raised her hand and she said, "This is the first year a teacher has ever been nice to me." And I was like, "Oh my God, that is so sad." Because you know, she was a good kid but she had to struggle and she was repeating third grade. And she had struggled. She had missed so much school and I just think she couldn't stand her teachers. They yelled and you know, I yell too but at least I had a reason. I would explain like how, "Why do you think I'm yelling right now?" And they'd be like, "Because we're not doing what we're supposed to be doing?" And I'm like, "Yes." And you know, I just tried to minimize things this year too and -- oh, there was this one day, when I was absent because I had gone to a math workshop. And I was really proud of this. The sub walked out at 9:30. And I'm not -- I'm proud only because I was like, "See, this is not just me? This was an intelligent person." And they were like, "I'm not dealing with this. I'm leaving." And well, and they left my room unlocked because they had to split my class up and they didn't lock the door behind them. And so then I was you about this posse of kids that would roam the halls? Well, they knew my classroom was unlocked. And they just went up there and they like stole all the incentive prizes and they just trashed everything. But when I got to school the next day, my room wasn't trashed. And -- because three of my really good kids, they stayed after school and they cleaned up the whole room. And -- you know, so I just guess that's part of what it's about. Like, just touching the kids you can and knowing that's the best you can do. And that others -- you know, but just really appreciating the fact that you can touch some kids and I know I was crying all last year, but mostly it was sad things. But that day, I was just so proud of them. And then the next day, it was like parent-teacher conferences and one of the moms, she came in and she said, she told me everything. She told me how they'd stayed after school and she said, "They just didn't want to embarrass you with the parents coming in. They didn't want you to be embarrassed." I had one girl who's also repeating. She lived in a homeless shelter and she was my best student, like not academically, but behaviorally. Just so appropriate. Never inappropriate. But she missed so much school because of their living situation. You know, there were times that she just couldn't get to school and -- because I don't think the shelter was near us. And so they had to take a bus and the school -- they used to give them reduced bus fares but like, they were out of them. So I would often slip her money, you know, just so she could get to school. And she was also repeating the third grade but she was smart. I mean she had the skills and I just wanted her to get through and pass, and she's still going to have to go to summer school which makes me so sad. And I don't know, it's just really weird. Her mother withdrew her, like withdrew at the beginning of last week and-- >> Okay. >> -and I think it's because they had to go somewhere else. They had to go to the suburbs. But she's missed so many days. She's missed like 50 days of school. And so there's no way I could pass her. And no matter what she does, you know she might get to take the ITBS - the High Stakes Exam - but I don't know. I have a feeling she's going to have to do something just so she can go to the fourth grade. And that's just so upsetting because she was such a sweet girl and by far, my most appropriate, most behaved student. And just with every teacher that dealt with her, you know? And just always really wonderful and respectful. I used to use these tickets, these exit tickets, at the end of the day and ask the kids like, "What did you learn about math and reading and life?" and she wrote one day, "I learned that this class is really mean to you." She was just such a doll. Just so sweet. And I learned a lot from her because the other kids, they were kind of resentful of the treatment that she received, but it was like, "Hey she doesn't get this treatment for any other reason than she always does what she -- she always follows directions." >> Right. >> "She always makes good choices. She always does what she thinks is best and she never tries to hurt someone." Oh and I had this other standout kid, Frederick. He was 12 or at least he turned 12 in my grade. He had failed third grade twice and he was an extremely angry kid because he was so much older than the other kids. And he was like a bully. And his mom was a bully before she didn't know me. There was this one day I had let out class at like 2:35 instead of 2:30, and she was telling the other adults that she was going to like beat me up. And I was like, because like, "Who did I think I was keeping the kids in?" And but I'm really proud because I forged a nice relationship with her ultimately. He had never been staffed for special ed services and he was trying to go on and he was still in third grade. And it was like, "Are you kidding me?" He had severe health problems. He had asthma and he this nebulizer for his asthma and he had severe gastrointestinal problems and he missed like 70 days of school. >> Wow. >> And a couple times he was in the hospital. He -- you know, he'd get to go in for like an allergy shot or an asthma shot and it would go badly and then he'd be in there for a couple weeks. And one day he had four wisdom teeth taken out and he was out for like two weeks. But toward the end of the year, we had forged a nice relationship. And in spite of the fact that he had this total anger fit like the last day. But it was because of his summer school status. Like, we didn't know at that point like his special ed status and we didn't know if was going to get retained again. And he kept asking me and I was like, "I don't think so but I can't tell you." And he just lost it. He just freaked out. And it was so sad because I had to lock him out of the room and he had helped me make all the plans for the party and I was like, "Well, you didn't get any of this because I had to lock you out of the room." But he did calm down and he came back to the office that very last day of school and we found out that he didn't have to go. And so he had big smile on his face. Totally different kid. But he was another infamous kid in the school and I felt really good about how I dealt with his family because I could very easily see where he was headed in that school. I really encouraged his mom to transfer him because I could easily see him ending up in that upper BD classroom. That first day, we got into the room and things were going okay. I had the chairs like, you know, in a circle and everybody was sort of sitting there. And I was going through the whole thing about how I wanted school to be fun for them. And then, and it gets a little blurry but -- and remember how I told you that Arthur and this other little boy were always fighting? >> Right. >> Well at one point, there was just this big pile of kids, just this huge fight. And I just remember going, "Oh my God, what am I going to do?" And so I went home that night forever. And I was just like, "I can't do this. I don't know what to do." And so I called one of my friends and she was like, "No, no. You're going to go back tomorrow. You're going to go in and you're going to do this and this and--." And we had learned these creative name tags were the kids like, they show you different things about themselves. And she was like, "You're going to do the nametags," and she like just laid out the whole day for me. And she said, "You can do this. You're going to go back and you can do this." And the rest of that week, and I know I came home crying every night. And it's kind of a blur but the last day of that week, and I don't know remember exactly what happened but I wandered into the principal's office and she just looked at me, and I just started crying hysterically. And you know, I'd heard so many terrible stories about my principal, but she was really nice to me. She took me into this small room and she said, "So what have you done positive?" And I was like -- and it's true. I hadn't set up any positive incentives. And I was like, I just had forgotten everything from my student teaching and I was like, "Oh yeah, okay." And then the principal told me, we were supposed to get these clocks, these timers. And we hadn't gotten them yet but she gave me hers which was really big of her and she said, "I think that if you start timing them, you're going to be able to keep them on task." And it was true. And I thought it was ridiculous but I tried it and it worked. >> How would you time them? What would you time them on? >> Well like, for things like lining up, I'd say like, "Okay, I'm going to give you two minutes, and in two minutes we have to be lined up when this clock goes off," or "I'm going to set the clock for 10 minutes and you have 10 minutes to go in the wash room." Or then I'd like take it down to 8 minutes and you know kind of make it a challenge. And it also had this thing where you could put it on the overhead so they could watch it and they loved that. And like if I let one of them hold it, they loved looking at the time. About 4 years ago, I started going to the Buddhist temple. And that was another big influence for me becoming a teacher because I would go, and I would take these meditation classes and it was -- you know, because I was fighting it. Like I thought, "I wish I was a movie star." I was not a successful person. So the Buddhist temple, it just sort of helped me see the nobility and the goodness of just going and doing a good job in the classroom. And that that's a noble life. That's a good life. And you know, I did get really stressed out a lot but I think it could have been a lot worse. I mean I did meditate every morning and I tried to go in the morning calm. And because you know, some of the teachers, they would come in so frazzled. They'd come in at like 8:35 and they were late and they were frazzled. And at least I tried you know to meditate every morning. And I just -- I had a routine that got me there calm and I'd get there early and at least feel on top of it for a little bit of the day. >> So what was your morning routine like for this, to get ready for the day? >> Like, I'd get up at like 5 and meditate for 20 minutes. And then I'd get dressed and eat some breakfast and have some coffee. And then I had a friend that we did the 25 minute commute to school. And it's just really nice to get there early when things are quiet. You know just -- it's also a really good way to know what's going on in the school. So like, if you get there early enough, and one of our assistant principals, she would get there at 7, and she would just have this posse of women and they'd all sort of just hung out in the office and -- for the first 20 minutes of the day. And the principal's not there yet either, so it's kind of the only time of the day that the school's relaxed. And you know, you can sneak coffee or sneak some copies in your office or whatever. And this group of women, we'd just be gabbing it up. >> Was there anything else, any other lessons you took away from practicing Buddhism? >> It's just like the concept that you just have to be constantly mindful of the moment. And just sort of be mindful and aware of what's going on. And just realizing that, because you know everybody has a part of themselves that they wish they wouldn't show, and I definitely showed that to my kids more than I would have liked. But just getting past it and moving on and not letting it keep you stuck. [bell] So you know, I just said to myself, "Okay, this was a really unusual, outlandish, extraordinary year and you know hopefully, we're not going to see this again and--." So I decided to come back. And a huge contribution to that was the discontinuation of the No Social Promotion. You know, we had like a lot of 15 year olds at our elementary school and they've all been promoted and graduated. So supposedly, everybody's going to be in an age appropriate situation next year. >> Wait. So now the Social Promotions -- can you explain that? >> Well that's why I had a 12 year old in my classroom bullying every kid because he'd been through third grade twice, and he still didn't know what he needed to know. And he finally got staffed this year in my room and that's when I told his mom. I gave her a copy of the Stephen [phonetic] Report because the school didn't even give her a copy. And you know, I said, "You need to take this to the school that you want him to go to, or go to the area officer and say that they're not meeting his needs." Because this would be the year that he would go to that upper BD room, but it's been disbanded and most of those kids are graduated and they're somebody else's problem now. See, I only had 4 kids out of 20 get promoted. I can't even imagine that. I think 7 of the kids that went to summer school this year, had already been retained once. And so I'm pretty sure they're going to get promoted on, but I don't know. And I mean, there's like 10 of my kids that they either passed summer school or they didn't, and they're back in third grade. >> Okay wait. So you had 21 kids last year. Only 4 of them were promoted. So this means that 17 went to summer school and so you think at least half of those were promoted because they earned it or I mean--? >> Because they'd already gone through the grade once. You know like, they'd already repeated once so they'd gone through the grade twice. >> So do you know who those kids were? Were they retained or moving on? >> I couldn't tell you at this point. I do know there's two kids in particular that I just will not deal with again. But some other kids I think I could handle having again, but there's two of them that I won't and they can't make me. I mean, it hasn't happened yet. [ Silence ] >> Dr. Charles Vanover: So if you'd like, you can say the closing prayer along with me. [bell] Throughout my many lives and until this moment, whatever virtues I have accomplished, including the merit generated by this practice and all I would ever attain, this I offer to all sentient beings. May sickness, war, famine, and suffering be decreased for every being as their wisdom and compassion increase in this and every future life. May I clearly perceive all experiences to be as insubstantial as a dream fabric of the night and instantly awaken to perceive the pure wisdom displayed in the arising of every phenomenon. May I quickly attain enlightenment to work ceaselessly for the liberation of all sentient beings. [bell] [ Applause ] So, two minutes and then we'll ask you to -- we'll do a concluding discussion with our facilitators. And again, as I said, our facilitators are great experts in the Chicago public schools. Truly if there is such a thing, they are it. And so if you have questions, it's a real honor to have them. So about two minutes and then we'll have a concluding discussion. [ Inaudible background discussions ] >> So going into your selection of the [inaudible], did you pick one person out of 3 or 4? Was this sort of random and she just turned out to be exceptional? How did you find this person? >> Dr. Charles Vanover: I mean it's [inaudible] the story that the beginners turned out to be much more difficult to recruit than we anticipated. And so I -- by the end I was using what is called - politely called - snowball sampling techniques, which actually means, calling everyone you know and trying to find a teacher that will talk in the study. So and I don't say that she's a representative teacher, although again I would say that some of the experiences are sort of modal, right? That's she's again, she's a beginning teacher going into a big elementary school with a lot of problems as a first year teacher. And that's a common [inaudible] sort of modal story. >> How many teachers total did you interview? >> Dr. Charles Vanover: I interviewed 12 teachers, 4 times each. And so I got 5 beginners, and then I got 7 -- and again, we're doing plays on them -- like one play's going to be at Penn. One play's actually going to be on Friday at Fort Lauderdale on a group of expert teachers. And these were really, really skilled, urban teachers who had at least 7 years in the classroom, and had passed what was at that time a prestigious teachers' exam. And so these were people that really knew a lot about teaching and were able to you know, connect up with the students better. Dee Dee, and then we'll go on back. >> I was curious about -- you said that she has remained as a teacher for 10 years. And I'm very curious, I mean I'm reminded of Brian [inaudible] comments to me many years ago that the biggest challenge in the system is the instability and the churn. And then learning from you know somebody at Penn that the modal year of experience in the classroom now is 1. That most teachers leave. And so I guess, what was the secret to these teachers persisting in your experience with the research? >> Dr. Charles Vanover: There's a lot of research on the topic. So there's actually as they say in the teacher education research business, the new thing this year is there's a lot of studies on teacher resilience and different factors. The connections that she makes are important. The fact again, we -- you don't get so much of it. So one of the things we had to cut is the leadership did come through for her later on. So on the one hand, they set her up. On the other hand, they are actually sort of supporting her and most of the beginning teachers who made it through, they had people in the schools who looked after them. And so for the experts, I think that they were you know, people crazy to teach. I mean I don't know -- I couldn't tell you, you know, there's -- I don't have any answers to that. >> So I worked in education evaluation in Boston public schools, very similar issues happening. But I was wondering if the performance and evaluation of the teachers was at all affected by the performance of the students? And if teachers were dismissed if their students could not pass a grade? And if that sort of influences social promotion policy and [inaudible]? >> Dr. Charles Vanover: It was the beginning of that movement. [Inaudible], wouldn't you say? >> Yes, I mean at that point and time, teachers were not being dismissed or evaluated based on their students' performance. It was all kind of indirect pressure from principals and administration to move kids along. But there was not direct link between the students' performance and the teachers' performance. >> Dr. Charles Vanover: And then -- and here you should know that you don't know her value added score or anything like that, so it could very well be. And we don't know. I don't know that the kids that she got were so low, that even if she did a good job, she would fail. I mean, we don't know. I cannot tell you and you know, even with -- it would be very difficult to really understand that. It's a hard question. It's something that again, that people in ed policy, they're constantly trying to understand those issues. Other questions? We have time for a couple more. Yes? >> Yes, and there were two points that really struck me. One, was the moment where I think it was the reading teacher comes in and she tells Arthur he has to go to this other classroom, and another moment where she says -- you know, she comes in the morning. It was great. The principal wasn't there so it was the calm of the day. And it really brought me to the aspect or the concept of collegiality. And so I'm just wondering, how much did that come up in the interviews when some of the psychological distress was because of the relationship with other teachers or administrators? >> Dr. Charles Vanover: Wow. In the beginners, the beginners connect in their school. The Teach for America teacher that I interviewed, she would talk about how her best friend was a security officer that was assigned to her eighth grade room. And she and him, they bonded, right? I mean he had her back. And she was sort of a good looking Teach for America type of student so you could sort of see how that went. The experts I have to say, and it's not what the national board would have wanted me to say, but they were -- a lot of them were isolated. That a lot of times what they did including like probably the teacher who I can't make a play of because there's no drama in her story. It's just all like, it had to be a dance or something. She walled herself out -- off though. So she says that she does this and that but really what they do is what unfortunately teachers have always done, they wall themselves off. They disconnect and then they're just this 20, 30 kids. This is my universe. I am going to be the rock for these kids. And then again, I mean one of the things I know as a former teacher and what I tell my students is that, you know, there's nothing better than being that person. I mean, you can't imagine like your 20, 30 kids and you're the rock for them. And every day, you matter to those kids. And you really, tremendously do. And so it's a things that is hard to -- it's hard to describe but it's a great feeling. It's a great feeling. A good day in the class and a good day in the work is a really great thing. And so we're striving to someday represent that. But mostly the data I have is mostly the struggles. It's mostly, I mean, I would like a better story actually, but the story that I got was either this or people stronger, but still isolated, proud, doing it but walled off. You know? "I am the rock for here," would be very much what I got. Way in back? >> I'm just curious, like in any of your interviews, you heard from those teachers where they were getting support from you know like the McKinney-Vento Act or you know from liaisons that are aware of how those policies you know, play out in the schools or you know, in special education services. It sounded like there was a lot of frustration with this one play in particular where she was told straight up, "Hey sorry, you can't put this kid in special ed because we can't help him?" >> Dr. Charles Vanover: Well, I will talk and then I will ask Robin to talk about that. This was right before what is known in the business as RTI came into effect which was the special ed reform. And so under the previous system, and some teachers actually wish it would go back to the older system, but what -- even though it was a terrible system. As you see, what used to happen was that they would -- there would be way more kids than could ever be tested. They would just sit there and then like in Arthur's case, they sort of waited for Arthur to fail, and then they removed him from the classroom and they put him into another room. And you know in our narrative that it's kind of passive. Right? That she's not like implementing this intervention or things like that that you would hear about nowadays. And so -- but maybe, do you have a sense of like how did this special education system at that time work? >> I mean I don't have a great sense of it either. It's not necessarily my area of expertise but my sense was that -- I mean the level of many of the children was so low -- the performance was so low that the bar for being referred to special education services was incredibly high. And people would tell stories about like moving to opportunity and things like that where children were moving from low income communities and higher income communities. And the second they got into those higher income communities and those schools, they were immediately referred to special education services because compared to the student body that was in the school, in that school, the were clearly in need of services. But I think that you know, there's only limited funds and you're relative to everyone else who was in the class. That was kind of how kids got referred. And they had to meet a pretty high bar or a really low bar, if you want to put it that way, in order to actually receive special ed services. >> Dr. Charles Vanover: And then it -- the life course impact of being in special ed wasn't great, right? So it wasn't something that really all that much benefited the kid to be put in this special room. Right? And that's another thing. I mean there's some kids it would benefit, but a lot of them you know, it didn't -- it wasn't really what the kids needed. And that was also just one of the issues. Yes. >> Well and then that was actually my original question from the beginning is, "What interventions did they have in place in order to help the kids?" I mean other than just keep on them making repeat. Do they just repeat the exact same curriculum the exact same way with the exact same -- you know, and the exact same teacher? There was no other interventions ever? >> Dr. Charles Vanover: I'm going to ask [inaudible] to [inaudible]. >> And Brian you can jump in if you remember more than I do. But yes, at least at the beginning part of the policy. That was it. It was, "You went through the year. You went to summer school. If you still didn't pass in summer school, you went back to the same grade and you did the same thing as before. And I mean, that was part of I think what came out of my dissertation research. We used to say, you know "More of the same is not going to help these kids." Like summer school was great and [inaudible] but sending a bunch of kids back to just do the same thing over again that didn't work the first time around, was not particularly effective. But I don't think the school system was really prepared and had thought well enough in advance about what they were actually going to do with those kids once they didn't make the bar at the end of the summer. >> Dr. Charles Vanover: Yes? >> So actually this is a two part question. In the interviews that you've conducted, did you get an idea of the makeup of the classrooms themselves? Like the racial makeup of the classrooms? And the second part is, did any of the interviewees or any of the teachers say that their race or gender was a factor in the experience in the classroom? >> Dr. Charles Vanover: Well in my data, I mean they were all teachers in high poverty schools in Chicago which meant that it was all minority students. One teacher taught maybe less poor kids and that's it. There's either Hispanic or African-American and that then again, one of the things we caught was that Halstead actually has a story about how she was trying to teach them race and say, "Look, I am white. You know, I want you to know that I am white. I understand this." And try to have that conversation with them. And in some ways that benefitted, but she's also I mean, having that conversation requires a lot of skill, right? And you can -- again, there's a lot of research in that, that it really to be -- to guide a kid like that, that has again, suffered from the disparities as you know, your original question, right? Who suffered from these disparities you know, to help them give them the teaching they need to become a strong member of their community, that requires you know knowledge and skill. And it's just a long process. >> So Charlie, I think we probably should wrap up and we can continue the conversation. There is a small reception and refreshments outside. And so, thank you everybody so much for coming. >> Dr. Charles Vanover: Thank you so much. [Inaudible] tell you thank you so much. [ Applause ]