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 Spring Break 
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For Spring break I did an Alternative Spring break in Washington, DC. We went to an inner city Elementary school and worked with the kids afterschool program. The school and community was 100% black, when we arrived we were probably the first "in person" white people they had ever seen.
There was so much that I learned and noticed but the thing that was mainly interesting was how the teachers and kids interacted. The teachers were so nice to us individually but then when they interacted with the students they were nothing but mean, dicators, yelling, embarassing the kids, singling them out, etc. It was really hard to watch - I wanted to cry for these young kids. The kids however - never behave, they physically fight in response to anything, and don't listen to ANY authority.
When we were turned loose with the kids for some after school programs, we tried to be nice, positive, people. But soon we realized that this would not work. We soon found ourselves treating them with the same negativity the teachers did.

What is the solution to this awful cycle??

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Jill Parsons


Tue Mar 28, 2006 9:51 pm
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I think the solution has to start somewhere. From reading your post, it seems like the students reacted to your positive interaction in a negative way because that is what they were used to. You said the teachers, people they see every day, treated them horribly and said awful things. Teachers must be role models to their students. I bet if the teachers did not act cruely towards them, they may not act as tough.

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Lauren Shook


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Tue Mar 28, 2006 11:22 pm
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Did you notice any change, any improvement in the students' behavior by the time you left? Were you working with the same group every day?


Sat Apr 01, 2006 11:21 am
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We noticed a little bit of change by the end of the week but that was really just the way they felt about us. The teachers, however, did tell us that the students were acting better in the daily classroom activities which made us feel like we were really helping out. It was an eye-opening experience, especially for an educatoin major.

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Jill Parsons


Sun Apr 02, 2006 4:35 pm
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Wow, Jill that sounds like an amazing experience. I remember you saying in class that the kids got bullied for being on task. Peer approval is so important to kids, maybe that may have something to do with the bad behavior? Maybe if the teachers would constantly praise the kids who are doing what they are supposed to do and reward them, the other kids might try to do better also? I think sometimes its easy to get caught up in the kids who are misbehaving. It might help to focus on the well behaved children and let them lead by example?

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Samantha McCrary


Mon Apr 03, 2006 4:00 pm
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Well see that is just the thing - the teachers would constatnly praise the kids that were doing well, but that was just what the other students were waiting on to see who they could bully. I found that if I praised the students who were on task secretely, just between me and the student, it seemed to be alot more effective, and they appreciated the approval much more.

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Jill Parsons


Tue Apr 04, 2006 6:34 pm
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I think one thing that is important is to every now and then, just pull back and look at your actions towards students. Working at a daycare with 2 year olds, I obviously had to constantly regulate behavior. But one day, I took a step back and realized that I spent most of the day frowning and making negative comments. I focused so much on bad behavior that I wasnt' enjoying the kids or my job. I also noticed other teachers who seemed to always be mad at the kids and I thought "Gee, do I look and sound like that all day too?" So I tried to smile more, be more patient, and play with children more. I really enjoyed the rest of my time there and I think had better relationships with the kids as well. Once they found out what behaviors pleased me, they wanted to continue those behaviors. If I always acted mad, then they knew there was no pleasing me and what was the point in acting well if they were going to get the same treatment?

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Laurie Tate


Tue Apr 04, 2006 11:22 pm
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