My student teaching and first teaching job in the U.S. were both at inner-city schools. Most of our kiddos came from pretty tough neighborhoods. My first graders knew more about rap and gang gestures than me. Some of my older students were bigger and scarier than me a (although I never let them know it). They often came to school in torn-up hand-me-downs clothes and some serious “hand-me-down” stress.
My first teaching job was at a school with a large group of refugees from East Africa. These are actually the munchkins that got me the job at the school. I loved them and wanted so much for others to recognize what these little dears had been through and continued to go through living in the ghetto’s of Phoenix. They were a tough crowd. My job was to teach them to speak and read English–not an easy task when many of them showed up for school ready to punch someone’s face in.