Claire teaches third grade at an inner-city Philadelphia school. Sister Nikka taught aboriginal students for a year in Taiwan. Scholastic discovered their blog here and asked them to write New Teacher: Two Sisters Tell Their Stories.
Monday, March 1, 2010:
How does your school begin the day?
Taiwan, 8:10 a.m.
I walk into the beautiful grassy entrance way of my school in Nan Ao, greeted by hellos from students scattered about the school grounds who are picking up leaves and sweeping. There are a few teachers dispersed amongst them. Everyone is cleaning and working together. There is music playing. In a few minutes, they will line up in the school courtyard to formally greet each other and begin the day.
All 200 students stand completely still and face the flag. A student band plays a solemn national anthem while another group slowly raises the flag. The students, in unison, bow towards the line to formally greet one another. Then they turn to their teachers, bow, and say, “laoshihao,” Hello, teacher. -Nikka
Philadelphia, 9:22 a.m.
Packed together on cafeteria benches, students scramble to finish their breakfasts. The school climate officer begins to quiet the room. After several rounds of “SHOW ME YOUR QUIET SIGNAL,” (a peace sign) the school climate officer leads the staff and students through two recitations. First, the Pledge of Allegiance. Second, the school rules.
“School rule number one. There is no violence at our school. Violence will not be tolerated. If you feel that you have to be violent you will leave the school. If a teacher or a parent loses their mind and becomes violent they will have to leave the school.
“School rule number two. We have a beautiful school. Do not litter. We pride ourselves on our beautiful facility. Keep it clean and beautiful.”
“School rule number three. All students must be accompanied by an adult at all times. There are no hall passes. An adult is your hall pass. The only place you may be by yourself is the bathroom stall.”
As the climate officer reaches the end of the rules, students are still making their way into the cafeteria just in time for school to begin. -Claire
Claire’s school has no recess for fear children will be hit by stray bullets. On the other hand, Nikka had a student who wanted to grow up to be a beggar.