Pam is very animated, and fond of bright patterns. Here is how our group meeting with Pam went:
Pam taught 7&8, 5&6 too, also taught music through a kind of mishap, the saying no that is mentioned later.
“The first part of being an ally to your students is being an active listener even when they aren’t saying anything” Inactions say a lot, coach students how to act for themselves.
Ronnie asked how you set yourself up as an ally to your class: Pam says: be sneaky, on your first day be open about your agenda. Let students in on what you’re teaching, if a student wants/needs to see a lesson plan, let them see it.
Students don’t always know what they need to ask for, like asking for some quiet time to rest and recharge- this shows that she cares. She did this with her 7th (maybe 8th) grade students that had very strenuous days, and her students were very grateful for it. They did not know what they should ask for in regards to taking a moment to relax, or perhaps if they could even ask her for such a thing.
Different ages/students have different needs.
Her 7th grade students drafted a requested a schedule change for a recess after lunch, this brought in argument skills, drafting skills, and teamwork. A valuable lesson for all students, and they got the recess, and Pam got recess duty.
An 8th grader, Melissa, wanted to play football, couldn’t because it was a male only sport, told she could play volley ball instead, sat down with Pam and drafted a letter to the district to ask to be able to play. Ultimately denied because of Title 9, but knew she had an ally in Pam, and she learned how to get support from peers and request these kinds of things.
We’re often unaware of how far we will need to go as an ally.
Denise, student Pam’s first year of teaching, would talk with Pam a lot. Denise was committed to a mental hospital, and asked that Pam come to visit her and bring her books. Pam did this for her regularly, and in November of that year, was called to court to testify if she felt Denise should be removed from her home. She did think so, and parents found that if there was an instability in the home they could get Denise back after she had been removed from the home, so they filed for a divorce they never intended to follow through with, sources later showed. Pam had a spring conference with mom whom pam had testified against in court. But Pam realized that she needed to cross any line to be that support for Denise, because it is ultimately about what is best for the student. Received a letter later, she is happy and successful.
Didn’t make it to year 5 of teaching middle school because she could not say no. She said yes to all things, volley ball, speech, drama, writing, spelling bee, all coaching. Pam was at school every day from 7AM to 9PM, then she grading and lesson planning on top of that. It is hard to say no to the students. But, you have to be an ally for yourself, schedule in time for yourself, schedule time for your friends. Schedule these things like a meeting with your boss, because you need to take care of yourself, and if your not an ally for yourself you can’t be an ally for your students. You can say, “Thank you for asking, but no, I cannot at this time,” or, “With all do respect, no.” Have time for a life. To be an interesting teacher you need to have an interesting life. Overall, take care of yourself.
I loved meeting with Pam. She is a great source of knowledge and wisdom about the life of teaching. And I think she’d probably be a great resource for anything and everything if I was to ask her about it. So, I’d say the meeting was a success, and I really hope that I have the good fortune of having a class with Pam in the future, or at the very least, working along side her.
Signing off, not so anxiously, Jaile.