Sunday, May 24, 2015

The end is only the beginning (BAL Blog Post #11)

I can't believe it's almost over.  This has been such an amazing year where I have learned so much from you, and I have been trying to meditate and master balance.  3 day weekends have a habit of bringing you the balance and time to reflect that you need.  In fact, if we went to a 4 day work/school week each week, I bet we'd all actually be a lot more productive.  Families would be healthier, stronger, together more often.

But I digress.  Our year together is coming to an end, and I will honestly miss the time, space and communities we have built together.  my 2nd period class is always lit with videos like this: "Stromae - "Papaoutai"", 3rd period I will always remember for our arguments and discussions, like the one about Kendrick's "hiiiPower", 4th used to be a huge class with Ms. Cotton, one of my favorite days was discussing Biggie's "Juicy", but we've also had so many memories as a small but spirited crew!  Oh, and 7th period, I especially enjoyed the silence with you.   We made it through narrative essays, poetry, Beloved, my maternity leave, a (still unfinished) zine/newspaper and A Raisin in the Sun.  Through it all, I tried to weave in current events around police brutality, race and class in the U.S. and link it to our history through the texts we were reading.

One of the most difficult, high-level texts we read was from Michelle Alexander's book "The New Jim Crow", and we learned about the Reconstruction Era - after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, and the laws began to change to convict freed slaves of any number of inane laws in order to maintain dominance.  She makes the direct connection between the Black Codes and laws of this time period in beginning the modern prison system, and the prison industrial complex (in which prison is for-profit and someone is making money off of every jail cell that stays filled).  I hope that I have begun to get you to question what you see in the media, and consider that violence against black people has always been a custom in the United States, and that while police brutality is still a huge problem, this has been going on for a long time.  

I don't think you'll necessarily think back on this year and say lovingly, "oh, annotation! so glad I met you!",  but I do hope that you fondly remember some of the conversations we had, about books, about life, about trying to change and shape our world into a place that is rooted in equality and justice. About dreams and making ours into realities.   Because your dream has been deferred, but you do not have to sit back and let it happen.  Take your future back.  I dare you!

(please leave as comments your reflections on my class.  this will be an ongoing and open assignment until the end of the year, as I want to hear about moments you'll always remember, things you enjoy about my class, what I need to change next year so you'll stay awake, which books/songs/topics you liked most, your ideas for improvement.  my class is only good because of you, so help me make it better for next year's you.)

I don't say goodbye, I say, "you won't get rid of me that easily". Until we meet again (in the hall next year, while I'm pushing my mobile classroom around!)

xoxo
Ms Lauren

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

I can't help but to pass by your post at night when I'm trying to get my life together. I pass through the blog to check for any homework or updates but I find myself calmed for a moment while reading them. I actually find myself for a moment that I don't want to respond because if I don't I won't get credit for it or because I will absolutely die if I don't receive a hundred percent in your class but because I simply want too. Words like this always gets me thinking and calms my mood of going 1904320 miles per hour doing assignments, studying and trying to get my life together to peace almost. It's weird, I know, but when you speak about real world things and connect them to history and literature it brings me back to reality. I think that the connection between the literature, history, and today has been the most influential, calming almost and inspiring thing about your class. In your class which is VERY rare of me I'm not thinking about my grade but i'm actually contributing my input because I feel strongly on the topic and not on my grade. Thank you for that ... it kept me sane most days when life got out of hand for me. Although it may not seem like it but for the first time in my high school life I cared more about the actual class, the people in it, and the discussions than my grade. Yea, I still worked as hard as I could for a 100% and will continue to do so but i won't be leaving an english class with just a 100% this year, i'll be leaving with an open mindset, and a newfound appreciation for not being right at something thanks to alice lol. This may not seem major, but for a person like me, this is huge. So, thank you for that Ms. Lauren and I hope you had a wonderful memorial day!
-Janée Ciara

Robert Dangelo said...

No lie I am really going to miss this class because it was my first class in the morning and I would see people down and tired because its 9 Am and I would come all happy and making others laugh even Ms.Lauren and I always talked about Lil Snupe and Naruto.

Anonymous said...

Your class has allowed me to be outspoken with my classmates and you about the topics we have discussed in class.I enjoyed your bubbly and goofy personality early in the morning to keep us up and going. I truly admire your effort to allow us to speak about real world things and not just brush it off like if its not happening, thats one of the things I'll miss about this class the most. I may not miss annotation guides or interpreting quotes every morning but I will miss the bonds I have made with my classmates through those things.
~ Kimberly A.

Unknown said...

I was in your class the whole year and I enjoyed learning about how to improve in performing the first semester and learning about a different country culture in the second. In the first semester I liked the idea of the student government and helping you out while you were away. In the second semester I really like listening to music and watching dances from Africa. Even thought I didn't really speak in your class, I did enjoyed being in there.

Alina Almanzar

Derrick RICHARD said...

Your class has allowed me to become a more better poetry and better writer. Like for example I like the idea of student government because it was kind of a better way to interactive with the students and give the people a chance of what they want in class. This class has been so memorial. It feel like that this class was the best class int the world. Derrick Richard

Anonymous said...

Devin Natera says.... i Was in your class the whole year and i was astonished by how well you teach English and by how passionate you are for the subject the first semester we learned about racism and other things that affect our community like Redlining and the Jim Crow laws that try to keep Black people separated. Then in the second semester we learned about techniques and other ways of answering the multiple choice so thank you

Anonymous said...

Devin Natera says.... i Was in your class the whole year and i was astonished by how well you teach English and by how passionate you are for the subject the first semester we learned about racism and other things that affect our community like Redlining and the Jim Crow laws that try to keep Black people separated. Then in the second semester we learned about techniques and other ways of answering the multiple choice so thank you

Anonymous said...

Debbie Says...


I've enjoyed learning new things in your class, watching videos, and discussing. My favorite discussion is when we were talking about which character in the Raisin in the sun has changed the most. Your class has gave me an outlet, a place where I can think about wanting a change to society, with all the discrimination, violence, and racism.

Jesus Jimenez said...

JESUS JIMENEZ SAID ...... Well my reflection on your class is that i like it no i love it. Its honestly interesting because i hate reading but you made me like reading i dont have a problem with it anymore. Im actually reading my first book called night and im starting to like it. You made the subject reading interesting and when i came to your class in the beginning of the year i thought your class was gonna be another reading class that ill be bored in not doing any work. But what i love the most about your class is that you connect reading to History and I love history so i LOVE that combination you do or maybe not history but events or social events that happening right now. YOUR AN AMAZING TEACHER.

Anonymous said...

This class was and still is the highlight of my day. I learned so much about things that I wouldn't have without this. All the bad things that have happened like Micheal brown case, Erick Garner case and many more, i learned about it this class and i always felt heard when it came to discussions and its fun to hear what others have to say and i mean who doesn't love a good debate about something everyone feels so passionately about. Also you always know what to do and talk about in order to get us interested and that's something that makes everyone excited for this class, knowing that they'll have a say on how the class will work and being able to think outside of the box and not get judged. This class makes everyone open up and i wouldn't change a thing in all honesty.

- Farielly Valerio

Luz Al said...

I really enjoy being in the class, coming every single day to class and having different quotes in the class to discuss and hear others opinions about it. Maybe next year you could add more music into the class related to the topic but from different origins. Hope to have you next it was a pleasure to be in this class.

Linda. O said...

What i mostly enjoyed about this class was the argument we have about police brutality which sometimes makes to speak up but i just don't say nothing. The do now that we have every morning which is very interesting to write about and the two most important memory i have is the help for regents last year which i found it really helpful and the day of the silence that was awkward but very entertaining.

kevin p said...

This had been one of the most enjoyable English classes that i have ever had it didn't feel like an English class because of how fun it was. This is a very open classroom where people can always speak there mind. In this room i feel safe to express anything that is in my mind. Ms you did an amazing job at always motivating us to do work and even when we talked always would calmly say to stop talking.

Briana S. said...

I will always remember the whole class discussion we had in the beginning of the year that took up the whole class period. It was a discussion after Mike Brown and Eric Garner cases about police brutality. Mr.Restrepo came in and also participated in the discussion and it made him tear up because he also has a son who is a minority and he fears for his sons safety. I also enjoyed watching the videos in class and connecting them to world problems. Next year in the beginning we should start with a book of our choice.

Adama said...

I was not in this school for the whole year but i enjoyed this class. It was less stress than the other classes. I enjoyed the books we read and the movies we saw. I like the fact that you did not give us too much work. I also like most of our discussions which really made people think. My favorite thing about this class was reading and watching Beloved i like the book and the movie. It was very interesting and the book had a lot of points.

Onajah J. said...

This class year was really interesting. I'll always remember our discussions when we began to disagree with one another. How we'd always have to prove that we were the ones that were right. Overall, when the class clown wasn't annoying everyone with his obnoxious bursts of randomness, it was enjoyable. This class was never boring to me, and everyday I wanted to come in and learn something new or read new texts. Basically saying, Ms.Lauren you don't have to change a thing about the way that you teach, cause it's always awesome. I particularly ,liked though, all the songs that we got to listen to, especially when it had a message that I could relate to. But I also agree with Briana, we should start with a book of our own choice. I think that will open up peoples minds more.

Chante said...

This class year has been very interesting. I really like when we used to read Rasin in the sun and people was reading it was very fun, and the Beloved book even though i didnt really read it, but i watched the movie and it made me want to read the book. I don't really think you should not improve anything because you are doing such a great job at teaching :)

Anonymous said...

i love this class. it was stressful and it was a class that we was able to open up about anything and be ourselves. i love how passionate you are about poems and the things that you teach. i enjoy the books we read and the movies or videos we see. once i leave the doors to go to my 8th period class i always think about this class and all the questions you ask it really makes me think. even though i laugh a lot in your class i always enjoy coming here because being able to be open and be yourself is the greatest thing a teacher can do and you taughtme so much im so thankful for being in your class
- Yulidal HernandezKin

Unknown said...

this class has gone by great last year i had lots of trouble in ELA but this class has poke me up a little and now i fell more confident about ELA even though ELA is my worst subject. it was great that we had time to discuss things that was going on in the present like the Eric Garner case or the Micheal Brown case and it was a good thing because most teachers in this school talk about most about the past and its not only about the past its about the past, present, and future.

Daniel batiz said...

Daniel Batiz said..... i love your class ms.lauren this class makes me understand in a whole different level is like the quotes you have brought to us is useful in everyday life it makes you see things another way from other.i always have a great time in class meeting the a teacher like you was a blessing i say that bacause you give me tips and when ever i need your help with anything

Unknown said...

I loved this class. This class is the highlight of my day. I love your method of teaching Ms.Lauren i will forever remember your exceptional class & skills you taught me. I appreciate the choice you allow us to have that no other teachers allow. In addition, i feel very comfortable in this class. In conclusion love you ms.Lauren .

Anonymous said...

This class help me improved the way I developed a essay and how to set it up. I liked the way the class is setup because the do now help us structure a Q26 essay and it also help us break down a quote to part making it more understandable. In addition the book we read on this class help me use it on the regent and they were good source of information to support they gave me to agree with the quote, also the way I learn to structure a Q26, Q27 and Q28 to make it understandable. This class in my opinion don't need to improve because the way is set up is the right way to make a student past the regent and be successful on literature. Thank you MS.Lauren for being a great teacher and teaching me new skills.

Christopher Echavarria

Anonymous said...

as i sit here trying to get all the thoughts i am thinking out, one memory seems to keep popping up,i remember the first day i came back to Bronx letters i was about half hour late and really nervous i remember walking in to scared to introduce myself to anyone including you, and as we all sat down and you began to talk i remember feeling a sense of joy because i knew you would be that teacher, that teacher who wants to get to know all of her students so that she may properly teach each one of them, that teacher who wants to know what we want to gain from this class, and i was right,you helped me break from my shell maybe not outside of your class room but inside i dont second think raising my hand, i enjoy your class because its not just a room i have to sit in for basically an hour, its a place that i can express myself and have interesting conversations about real life stuff. youre by far one of my favorite teachers in BAL. so thank you for the first day when you asked us what we wanted to gain from your class because walking in before you asked that question i myself had no idea. the next set of 11th graders are going to be lucky to have you as a teacher. -MELODIE

Anonymous said...

i dont think this class needs any changes. is perfect as it is
-zoila v

Anonymous said...

I don't think there has to be any change in this class. I actually learned to like this class a lot. But I feel like you should enforce rules more... like one mic so that people can actually listen to you.

But overall YOUR A GREAT TEACHER !!
LOVE YOU MS LAUREN <3

Ashley R says....

Anonymous said...

I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE YOU MS.LAUREN !!!!!

Kaylah Sylvester said...

I like the way this class is. I don't think this class needs any changes because a teacher makes a class the way it is and since we have a cool and amazing teacher the class is perfect the way it is.

Anonymous said...

Devin Natera says.... Ill start off by saying that this was an amazing year and i learned so much. I've gained a larger amounts of knowledge that i can use for days, I mean i know so much that im about to explode!!!! There are new ways Ive learned to anyalze text and there are new ways to read multiple choice question. Thank you MS. Lauren

Sarank Diakite said...

Even though we had our ups and downs i won't change anything about our class because i have grown and improve in this class

Unknown said...

Honestly I feel like this class has helped me a lot to know how to express myself freely without not being myself and helping to learn how to cope with others around me and I really love the way you teach a lot because it's really simple and easy to understand and thank you for being there as a caring and supportive mother for us ( BAL U.P. Squad ) when we need you the most💯😫

Unknown said...

Hi Lauren! I'm not 100% sure that you'll get a notification for this comment, but I really wanted to reach out to you. I'm in the MAC program at the moment, as well as Jeff Stanzler's AIC class - I'm the mentor for the Blue Game, so we have a few of your kids in our world. All of that aside, however, I wanted to say that you are one of the most refreshing and inspiring voices I have come across in a long time. I don't even know where to start! I want to talk to you about your writing and your interest in the "Write a House" project here in Detroit (which is where I live currently, and where I struggle to tackle my own privilege every single day while still becoming part of this community). I want to talk to you about your students, who seem so passionate and incredible and engaged. I want to talk to you about J Dilla and that weird giant tire that I see every single day on my drive home on 94.

But to regain some focus, I could really start with Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow, a book I am dying to read with my students in the spring. I'm a history teaching candidate, you see, and I'm trying to design a unit on the Civil Rights Movement that isn't bounded by its typical limits of time and space. I want to create an in-depth study of the ideology of universal human rights, of race-making, of the beginning of institutionalized segregation, of the school-to-prison pipeline, and of Third World liberation movements. I don't know that I would have the time or the ability to work through the entire book during this unit, so I'm curious how you approached it with your students. Currently, my idea is to work through the introduction with them, so they get the gist of her argument while keeping it at a manageable size for some of my more easily discouraged readers.

I don't want this to get too long, but I do want to say that I really appreciate your use of a blogging platform as a way to interact with your students beyond the classroom. Judging by the comments here, it works! I have experimented with small bouts of student feedback during the brief moments I have on my own in front of the class, and find it genuinely rewarding so far. Your work inspires me to keep pushing forward with mine. Students should feel that their voices matter in how a classroom works and how it is run. They should feel that their voices matter, period. It is clear to me that you have achieved that with yours.